For many in the UK, Christmas is celebrated in the month of December and is a national holiday. It’s often a time of happiness, giving and family time where people exchange gifts.
However, this isn’t the case for everyone. This might be because of faith or because it brings up mixed emotions for example if a loved one has passed away during this time.
Whatever the reason, the number one thing to remember in the workplace is to respect other people’s decisions and beliefs. So, in this #YesSheCan blog, we’re going to give you some tips and advice on how to create a safe and inclusive environment this December.
There are many holidays which happen throughout the year. Some may be religious, meaning it relates to someone’s faith or belief, and others are cultural, which relate to a group of people or a city or country.
Examples of religious holidays are:
Eid Mubarak is celebrated by followers of Islam.
Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Jains Sikhs and Buddhists.
Passover is celebrated in Judaism.
Examples of cultural holidays are:
Pride Month is in June for members and allies of the LGBT+ community.
Black History Month in October celebrates and raises awareness of black people throughout history.
Women’s History Month in March is about raising awareness of gender equality.
The biggest and most prominent holiday across the UK is Christmas. Christmas is a cultural holiday celebrated by many but it’s primarily a religious event observed by Christians to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ.
Those outside this religion or from a different culture will most likely not celebrate or recognise this holiday, but may still participate in events around the holiday such as Christmas parties or Secret Santa’s.
How you can be more inclusive
Remember that Christmas isn’t a ‘wonderful time’ for everyone
For some of us, Christmas can bring a lot of mixed emotions. A loved one may have passed away during this time or we might not have a close family to celebrate this time with.
It can also be financially difficult and bring a lot of stress and worry.
So as we organise Christmas parties and sing Christmas songs, it’s important to not make assumptions on other people’s opinion of this holiday. This means don’t push a Christmas party invitation on employees and peers or ask them what they are doing during this period if they look uncomfortable.
Instead, make those invitations optional and offer resources within your employee networks for those struggling – this can be from Mental Health to financial aid. Also be flexible to your peers and employees’ needs during this time – if they need half a day off for bereavement or personal reasons, honour that.
Opt for ‘Happy Holidays’
When you’re writing up your weekly team update email or meeting at the kettle to make some much-needed coffee, it might be easy to quickly say ‘Merry Christmas!’ or ‘I hope you have a good Christmas over the break.’
In retrospect, this is a simple and nice greeting or conversation ender for most people in the UK, however, it can leave some of your peers feeling uncomfortable or may feel pressured to say it back even if they don’t want to.
Instead of referring to this period as Christmas, swap it for ‘holidays’. It’s not taking away from Christmas and it’s also correct for your peers who don’t celebrate – you are all experiencing a holiday/break in your workplace!
Adjust your Christmas party for a more ‘giving’ celebration
Singing, dancing, and eating delicious food is a great experience for anyone, but again when singing along to Santa and other cultural and religious subjects may alienate members of your team.
There are many charities and organisations which ask for donations, support or even volunteers during the busy month of December – this is a great opportunity to come together as a team to celebrate ‘giving’.
You could arrange the food, dancing and singing with more generic party music and also set up party games that focus on raising money for important causes. Alternatively, you could set up a day where your team volunteers for a night for an organisation.
This shifts the focus away from celebrating a cultural and religious holiday to helping others during a busy month. This is a universal value that can be recognised and doesn’t go against cultural or religious beliefs – it’s a lovely and great thing to do as a team!
Maintain balance throughout the year
If your business or workplace is diverse (which is great!), then you may already hold events and activities for different cultural or religious holidays to include many of your team throughout the year.
For example, during Diwali your team may brightly decorate the office or Eid Mubarak you may abstain from eating in or schedule busy events in the office.
In these cases, it might be appropriate or normal to celebrate Christmas as you would for any other member of your team’s religious or cultural events. However, this all comes down to balance and maintaining that representation and inclusion all year round.
If your team has a good understanding of each other’s boundaries and beliefs, then you’re on the right track and you’re doing everything you can for your team.
Remember that this is a time for socialising, reflection and celebrating, so use this time as your business’s commitment to provide an inclusive workplace for all.
If you keep these tips and advice in mind during the holiday season, your team will thank you for it. Likewise, your friends and peers in the workplace will appreciate the effort you’re making to ensure they are comfortable!
We hope you enjoyed reading this blog and have learned more about D&I and the festive holidays. If you want to read more of our educational blogs, you can click here.
If your organisation needs support and help to create an inclusive and happy environment for your team, you can explore our #YesSheCan D&I roadmap here and contact us today!