How to be inclusive of all faiths at Christmas
Britain is a multi-cultural, multi-faith society. It’s also an increasingly secular one. So, from a Diversity & Inclusion perspective, is it okay to make so much of Christmas? Surely, if staff get a party and days off for this Christian celebration, companies should also offer the same benefits around other religions’ key dates – such as Hanukkah, Diwali and Eid Mubarak – too. Or should they?
According to the SHRM, companies must show consideration for all faiths throughout the year and particularly during the festive season. The last thing they want is for their carefully planned celebrations to make anyone feel excluded.
The article lists six recommendations on the matter, as follows:
- HR should endeavour to increase awareness of non-Christian holidays. So create an inter-faith calendar and find creative ways to celebrate these important occasions throughout the year. Include Bodhi Day (the Buddhist holiday), Diwali (the Hindu Festival of Lights), Eid al-Fitr (which marks the end of Ramadan in the Muslim faith), Hanukkah (the Jewish Festival of Lights), the Lunar New Year (the Chinese holiday) and any other faith represented at your company.
Find out which religious holidays are important to your employees and how/if they would like to celebrate them in a work environment. You can celebrate by hosting discussions that promote mutual understanding of different faiths or by holding workshops about how to make traditional items of food from a particular culture or religion.
Don’t ignore atheists and agnostics! Be inclusive of these individuals by building awareness around human rights matters, for example.
- Create a diverse planning committee, made up of people with varying beliefs, for your end-of-year celebrations. Their input will help you avoid accidental insensitivities such as scheduling the office Christmas party during Ramadan.
- Make it clear that attendance is optional. Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate holidays and may appreciate being given your official stamp of understanding and approval to be absent. Similarly, make participation in your Secret Santa initiative optional.
- Provide kosher, halal and vegetarian food options and present each food type on a different table. And keep your traditional boiled ham and cloves at a distance from Muslim and Jewish delicacies especially.
- Consider a two-stage party. During the initial stage, when leaders thank employees and make announcements, don’t serve alcohol. That way individuals wishing to avoid alcohol feel comfortable about attending. The second stage of proceedings can include alcohol and music. Be clear in your invite about the schedule so that attendees can make informed choices about their attendance.
- Choose decorations carefully. Extend your traditional red and green Christmas decorations to the blue and white traditionally used for Hanukkah celebrations, for example.
- Offer floating holidays so that employees can take time off for religious moments that are meaningful to them throughout the year. Make sure that managers respect those holidays.
- Invite feedback. Provide a way for workers to offer honest feedback anonymously. If they choose to leave their names, make sure you follow up with them to show you value their suggestions and explain how you will address them for next year’s celebrations.
By taking on board the above tips, you’ll go a long way to creating goodwill for employees of all (and no) faiths at Christmas and all year round. Add a large dose of common sense, and enjoy the festivities!
ABL, your trusted multilingual recruitment partner, wishes you a very Happy Christmas, Bodhi Day, Diwali, Eid al-Fitr, Hanukkah and Lunar New Year! Enjoy!