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Fostering Inclusivity in the Holiday Season

A Celebration of Diversity

Published on

December 7, 2023


As December ushers in a sense of winter wonderment, offices across the country are often transformed into festive environments, with co-workers and colleagues bringing their unique traditions to our shared workspaces.

The season provides an extra opportunity to celebrate Canada’s diverse tapestry of traditions in a professional setting. Beyond the glittery decorations and warmth of shared celebrations lies a deeper magic— the power of inclusivity. Fostering an open and welcoming environment for everyone in the office during this time of year isn’t just a nice gesture; it's an essential to a harmonious and happy workplace.

Unwrap the Gift of Diversity

Amid our usual work rhythm, the festive season invites us to appreciate the diverse and eclectic traditions that our colleagues bring to the table. Each adds a splash of colour to our shared experience, turning our workplace into a lively mix of seasonal celebrations. A wide variety of religious, cultural, and non-denominational events are celebrated throughout the month, including:

Deck the Halls with Diversity

Beyond the visual appeal of seasonal office décor is a profound message — that every tradition, whether rooted in religion or not, has a seat at the holiday table. A display that encompasses a variety of cultures and traditions from around the world clearly communicates to everyone that every tradition is recognized and respected.

Navigate Beyond Christmas Parties

Factoring in all the unique facets of the holiday season, it’s worth considering alternatives to traditional Christmas parties. End-of-Year parties can shift the focus from Christmas to a broader celebration of the year's accomplishments. This not only accommodates diverse traditions, but also centres the celebration around shared achievements and goals.

Organizations can also consider moving their annual parties to another season entirely. At Altis, we have two yearly staff celebrations — one in spring and one in fall. This not only frees up much-needed time in December for those who may have more hectic schedules, but also provides an opportunity to celebrate our team in a fun setting with an inclusive theme that isn’t tied to a specific holiday.

Hold Thoughtful Celebrations

Inclusivity in the office during the holidays goes beyond religious and cultural concerns. Recognizing that some colleagues may have sensitivities surrounding food and alcohol, thoughtful work celebrations should consider alternatives that aren’t centred on a shared meal or alcoholic beverages.

Any food served should be accommodating of various dietary needs and sensitivities. Instead of a formal sit-down meal, consider snack stations with a variety of culturally-inspired and dietary-friendly finger foods. This allows everyone to graze at their leisure, without the pressure of watchful eyes or a communal table.

Colleagues who abstain from alcohol should be able to toast with a non-alcoholic beverage that reflects the effort and quality of the alcoholic selection provided. Consider providing several seasonal mocktails along with the usual soft drinks, water, tea and coffee.

While holiday celebrations are appreciated and welcome by many, others choose not to celebrate holidays at all. Be respectful of this choice, and never make a holiday celebration mandatory.

Other team-building festivities can include:

  • Charity Initiatives: Infuse the season with a spirit of giving by organizing a charity initiative that reflects the values of your organization. This could involve a charity drive, volunteering as a team, or supporting a cause that resonates with the collective mission of the office. Each year, Altis marks the season with our Kits for a Cause packing parties. It’s an opportunity for our team members across the country to come together and pack up winter essential kits containing hygiene and warming products for those in need.
  • Hygge Habits: Survey your colleagues for a list of their favourite books, movies, and TV shows to snuggle up with in winter, and share the results among your teams. This is something we’re trying out for the first time this year and we can’t wait to reveal our top picks – stay tuned!
  • Winter Wonderland Decoration Contest: Inspire creativity and laughter through a contest that challenges teams to decorate their workspaces in winter themes.
  • World Games Day: Organize a day of diverse games inspired by traditions around the world, encouraging friendly competition and cultural learning.
  • Recipe Exchange: Encourage teams to share recipes from their holiday traditions, creating a digital cookbook that represents diverse flavours.
  • Mindful Moments: The end of year can be a stressful time for many. Consider incorporating moments of mindfulness throughout the workday, drawing inspiration from various traditions that emphasize serenity and balance.

Keep Communication Open

Open dialogue is crucial to fostering a true sense of inclusivity. Channels for employees to express their unique needs, share personal stories tied to their traditions, or discuss concerns related to the holiday season help to ensure that every voice, from the those observing religious and cultural holidays to secular celebrants with their own traditions, is heard and valued equally.

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