HR Blog

Happy ChristmaKwanzukah!

By Dee Yingst

“Diversity is inviting everyone to the dance. Inclusion is asking everyone to dance.”

Isn’t that a great quote?  For the life of me I can’t remember where I heard it or who said it – but it’s still a great quote and very appropriate at this time of year.

Decorating and celebrating holidays can be such fun – we just need to be sure that we don’t trample on principles like diversity and inclusion in the process. 

There are so many reasons to celebrate at this time of year. Back in November we had Veteran’s Day (11th), Milad un Nabi (The Prophet’s Birthday –21st) and Thanksgiving (22nd) among others. In December we have the ones most folks recognize like Hanukkah (starts December 3rd), Christmas (25th) and Kwanzaa (starts the 26th) but there are other holidays too like St. Nicholas Day (6th), Pearl Harbor Day (7th), Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (12th), and December Solstice (21st) among others. (Not to mention my personal favorite – National Cookie Day which is on the 4th.)

Not everyone celebrates the same holidays.  Some people choose not to celebrate any particular holiday – and that’s ok too. What’s not ok is excluding someone because they don’t celebrate the same holidays that you do. If you’re not sure how to include someone who celebrates differently than you, it’s ok to ask. Really.

No matter which holiday(s) you’re celebrating, I give the same advice on parties.  That advice doesn’t change much each year either. Here are some things to think about:

There is no such thing as compulsory fun. If you have to mandate employees to attend a company party then you have bigger problems than whether your hors d’oeuvres should be hot or cold.  A mandated event could cost you a bundle in wages for nonexempt employees too, especially if we’re talking about overtime. If it’s a formal event that includes say, a report on the state of the company, then go right ahead and mandate it. Otherwise, you’re just mandating fun – and that’s no fun.

Leave the aerobics at the gym. Unless you enjoy paying workers’ compensation claims, stay away from limbo contests, dance contests, arm wrestling, dart throwing, etc.

Hire a real bartender and stick to a drink limit. Do I even need to explain why? Some employers use drink tickets to monitor intake some just eschew alcohol altogether.

No mistletoe! Please tell me I don’t have to explain this one either.   

It’s a holiday party, not a religious event or service. We’re back to diversity again. Either the celebration includes everyone or it includes no one. It’s just common sense and will go a long way toward fostering a more inclusive workforce.

And most of all during this season: If someone wants to wish you or each other or the delivery guy/gal a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a Happy Kwanzaa or even just Happy Holidays understand that they are sharing their joy in the way they know how. Don’t get worked up over how someone expresses their good wishes, just be glad they did.