Stop holiday eggshell walking
Friday, December 08, 2017
Do you feel like you are walking on eggshells during the holiday season? Did someone tell you that you can't mention Christmas and you don't know what to do?
Stop holiday eggshell walking! There is no need to tread softly or believe inaccurate silly rumors.
Clients frequently ask me if they should not even mention any holidays because they are worried about not being inclusive. This doesn't work. It can be depressing working in an organization during the holiday season of November and December where no one mentions any of the holidays while people are celebrating everywhere else.
Pretending holidays like Christmas, Chanukah, Mawlid al-Nabi and others don't exist is not inclusive. It can have the opposite effect.
Think about the holidays as a time when many people celebrate a variety of things, and there are opportunities to interact and connect on deeper levels that can result in more collaboration and creativity.
In working toward an environment where differences among people are recognized and respected, we are all bound to make mistakes.Whether or not you celebrate any of the holidays in November of December this year, this is a time when a lot of people get swept up into feeling good, helping others, reconnecting with old friends and family and working on self-improvement for the coming year.
Connect and learn
We need to be able to talk with others about our differences, assume good intentions and correct people in a kind way, if necessary. By sharing our differences at this time of year, it makes it easier to see our similarities and be comfortable asking questions. When we are more comfortable with people who are different, we're more likely to take risks and think creatively.
Awareness in the diversity of beliefs continues to grow, but many leaders and their employees are not sure how to be inclusive of others.
As we continue to leverage the diversity in our organizations and work to create inclusive cultures where everyone loves doing their best work, we are bound to make mistakes. We need to be able to talk with others about our differences, assume good intentions and be willing to learn.
While this year has been fraught with disasters and loss, people have come together across differences to offer help, save lives and provide support. Everyone needs time to celebrate, connect and self-reflect.
This is a good time for organizations to review the last 12 months. Celebrate wins and overcoming challenges, and engage and show employees you care.
Since so many holidays are in November and December, this is a good time to do research. Find out what these holidays mean, and learn about the customary observances, food, greetings and traditions.
Being able to give people the appropriate holiday greetings for their culture can help people feel included, build relationships and create more of a team spirit. Not only might you learn something new, but you also might be invited to share their celebration and eat a good meal.
6 ways to be inclusive during the holidays
Here are five ways to demonstrate diversity leadership and make this an inclusive season for everyone in your organization.
1. Provide opportunities for employees to share symbols and stories about the holidays and important events they observe. Items can be placed on display with a written description describing the tradition. This can be an opportunity to learn about different cultures and religions and the traditions that accompany them.
2. Consider having a New Year's party instead of a holiday party. This can get everyone on board with the company's mission and vision for the New Year. It's a good way to help employees get to know each other better. Use a facilitator to lead end-of-year dialogue circles where people can review the year together and collaborate on strategy and vision for success in the New Year.
3. Post holiday greetings on your webpage and internal communication platforms for many religious holidays.
4. During the whole year be respectful of special dates, when planning events and meetings. Don't plan a lunch or breakfast meeting during Ramadan if you have Muslim employees. Be aware of important religious holidays where it's customary for people to not be at work. Learn traditional greetings for holidays. Employees who celebrate those holidays will appreciate that you were interested and took the time to learn.
5. Let go of assumptions of what people know about your holidays. Educate people about the origins and meaning of what you celebrate. Invite people from different traditions to your celebrations.
Finally, remember that some people choose not to celebrate any holidays because of personal or religious beliefs. Respect those decisions, and find ways to make them feel included and share in their success.
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