Celebrate Diversity with an Inclusive Culture

Celebrate Diversity with an Inclusive Culture

November 25, 2020

By Theresa Harkins-Schulz
Our workplaces are rich with diversity. When we create inclusive cultures, employees can be themselves, and acknowledge and celebrate their differences. As more businesses focus on diversity and inclusion, using the politically-correct phrase “Happy Holidays” is not enough. Consider these 10 tips to create an inclusive workplace, starting in December, and extending into 2021:

  1. Be curious. Don’t be afraid to ask people what holiday(s) they celebrate.
  2. Instead of hosting a holiday event in December, celebrate New Year’s.
  3. Make attendance at holiday celebrations optional.
  4. Recognize many religious holidays throughout the year.
  5. Acknowledge multi-cultural holidays using your social recognition tools.
  6. Take an interest in learning other peoples’ traditions. Ask them to share stories, traditions, pictures or food.
  7. Practice respect for special dates and plan events and meetings around various religious holidays.
  8. Display a multi-cultural calendar to help all employees stay aware of important cultural events throughout the year.
  9. Consider dietary needs and be mindful of religious dietary restrictions. Your people are your best resource, ask them.
  10. Ditch the Secret Santa and use the energy of the holiday season to support your local food bank or other charity.

Holidays that may fall in or around December

Diwali is the Hindu Festival of Lights. This five-day celebration usually falls in October or November. 

Bodhi Day is a Buddhist holiday that celebrates Siddhartha Gautama’s (the Buddha’s) realization and presentation to his fellow seekers of the Four Noble Truths. Bodhi Day is traditionally celebrated on December 8th (the 8th day of the 12th lunar month).

Hanukkah is the Jewish Festival of Lights. This eight-day holiday can fall in late November, December, or occasionally early January. 

Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus, the central figure of Christianity. Christmas is celebrated on December 25th by Christians who use the Gregorian calendar. Christians using the Julian calendar celebrate Christmas on December 25th on the Julian calendar, which translates into January 7th on the Gregorian calendar.

Kwanzaa is a week-long secular holiday honoring African American heritage. This holiday is observed from December 26th through January 1st each year by some African Americans in the United States.

The Lunar New Year is a traditional Chinese holiday marking the end of winter that falls between January or February. The Lunar New Year is an East and South East Asian celebration. In China it is known as the “Spring Festival” and marks the end of the winter season.

Yule is a Wiccan or Pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice, which takes place every year between December 20th and 23rd. Yule celebrates the rebirth of the sun, the beginning of the time when the days will become longer and welcomes the bounty of spring.

Notable diverse holidays in 2021

There are many more occasions to mark cultural diversity throughout the year, even after the holidays have passed. Here are a few more to consider:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, a noted civil rights activist, is celebrated on January 18th

The Chinese New Year is a festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional lunar Chinese calendar. It traditionally lasts for 16 days starting from Chinese New Year's Eve to the Lantern Festival.

February is Black History Month, celebrating black history and African American culture

Cesar Chavez Day is March 31 and honors the Mexican American farm worker who was a labor leader and activist

April is Arab American Heritage Month celebrating Arab American heritage, culture and contributions

The Native American Gathering of Nations occurs on April 22-24, when over 500 tribes will gather for three days to honor their culture.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting (sawm), prayer, reflection, and community.

Eid al-Fitr is the “festival of breaking the fast” with Muslims worldwide marking the end of Ramadan.

The month of May honors three diverse cultures:

  • Asian Pacific American Heritage Month recognizes the contributions and culture of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States
  • Jewish American Heritage Month honors the contributions of American Jews
  • Haitian Heritage Month is a celebration in the united states of Haitian heritage and culture

World Day for Cultural Diversity is May 21, a day that recognizes cultural diversity as a source of innovation, exchange and creativity

World Refugee Day on June 20 aims to raise awareness about the plight of refugees

International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is August 9th, and celebrates the richness of indigenous cultures as well as recognizes the challenges indigenous peoples face today

National Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15 – October 15, to celebrate the contributions, heritage and culture of Hispanic and Latino Americans

Constitution Day and Citizenship Day is held on September 17, commemorating the ratification of the United States Constitution in 1787 and also honors all who have become U.S. Citizens

October is Global Diversity Awareness Month increasing awareness and acceptance of diverse cultures, and also marks three more diverse occasions:

  • Indigenous People’s Day (Native American Day) is October 11, and celebrates and honors Native American history and culture
  • Dia de la Raza, “Day of the Race”, is celebrated every October 12th in Mexico and other Latin American countries, although in other places it is called “Dia de la Hispanidad” (Hispanic Day)
  • Dia de los Muertos, “Day of the Dead” is a three-day celebration -- strongly identified with Mexico, but celebrated throughout Latin America and everywhere with a Latino population – that takes place October 31 – November 2 to remember dead relatives and friends

During November, American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month honors the history and culture of Native Americans and Indigenous People in the United States

When workplaces include diverse celebrations, all employees feel valued, honored, and important to the organization, which strengthens their workplace experience.