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Ideas for Celebrating Diversity in Your Workplace this Holiday Season

Holidays, already? In New York, Rosh Hashanah typically kicks off the holiday season. This year, it is so early, it’s on Labor Day! It made us think about our conversations with our clients about celebrating Diversity during the holidays. We find that employers often don’t know where to start with genuine inclusivity in the workplace.

One of the things we suggest is to create a holiday calendar geared toward the holiday traditions closest to employees’ hearts. With some careful thought and planning, this is a win-win for you and your team. Build on your retention skills and put some smiles on the people that contribute to your bottom line! If the goal is to remind your team that you respect and value who they are, there are surely plenty of opportunities to do so. In Hospitality, we tend to show love with food and thoughtful service. What better time to do so than the holidays? Think of “holiday party favors,” or “themed family meals” when you plan this calendar, giving employees something thoughtful, and impacting their special day.

Start With Your Team

How do we pick and choose what we will celebrate and acknowledge in the workplace? We suggest that you start with your team. We work long hours and sometimes spend more time with our teams than our families, so we tend to know these details. For example, if your back of house team (or front of house team for that matter) is predominantly from the Dominican Republic or of Dominican descent, know about their holiday traditions. One of their country’s biggest holidays is Christmas Eve. If there is flexibility on the schedule, offer the day off. If your restaurant is open, even a small gesture of a card or small gift is really appreciated! We suggest chocolates. Another idea is to make Puerco Asado and Moro de Guandules for a family meal that week. Embracing your employees’ cultures reminds them that you value their traditions. For the employees on your team who celebrate the Jewish holidays, honor the traditional foods of the high holidays by giving simple gifts. We love honey and apples for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. Some ideas include an apple corer, green apple honey sticks, raw honeycomb or a honey dipper. A simple party favor bag with a bow does the trick! For some holidays, there is a period of fasting. For these occasions, we recommend giving something that keeps and can be eaten once the fast is broken. One holiday that comes to mind is Yom Kippur. Give a loaf of Challah Bread!

Spring & Summer Holidays

We want to mention that while several holidays are between September and the New Year, there are also holidays that fall in Spring and Summer. The great thing about this is that no two holidays fall on the same day; there is room on the calendar for everyone! Keep holidays throughout the year on your calendar as well. For example, Muslim employees observe Ramadan and other Islam holidays in late Spring into Summer. Buddhists celebrate the Chinese New Year in late January. The key to knowing how best to recognize which holidays is knowing your people.

Create Your Own Holidays

When we take the opportunity to celebrate the whole team, we create a sense of belonging and acceptance. We find that over time, when employers put some thought into this, their employees start to look forward to it each year. You can create your own traditions within your business, showing that you actively embrace Diversity and model respect. Here is a list of holidays to inspire a holiday calendar for your team!

  • Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year, September 6th - 8th: Apples & Honey

  • Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement, September 15th, 16th: Challah Bread

  • Halloween, October 31st: Candy gift bags

  • Dia de Los Muertos, November 1st, 2nd: Tequila or Hot Chocolate

  • Thanksgiving, November 25th: Pumpkin Cookies

  • Hanukkah, November 28th - December 6th: Hanukkah Gelt or Hanukkah Candles

  • Christmas Eve, December 24th: Chocolate Truffles

  • Christmas Day, December 25th: Cookies

  • Kwanzaa, December 26th - January 1st: Cornbread or Kwanzaa Candles

  • New Year’s Eve, December 31st: Sparkling Wine or Non-alcoholic Cider

  • New Year’s Day, January 1st: Whole Fruit gift bags

  • Three Kings’ Day (Dia de los Reyes Magos), January 6th: Kings’ Cake

  • Chinese New Year, February 1st, 2022: Assorted Teas

  • Ramadan, April 2nd - May 1st, 2022: Scented Candles

  • Eid al Fitr, May 2nd - May 3rd, 2022: Dates, Almonds, Pistachios, Honey


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