With the festive season almost upon us, I am always mindful of the importance of being culturally agile when bringing people together and the significance of religious holidays to different cultures. It can be quite easy to offend people unintentionally at this time of year.
So, I thought it might be apt to discuss acknowledging religious holidays in the workplace and how best to navigate this topic in a respectful and inclusive way.
Religion is a key component of how people and societies make sense of their existence and provide meaning to their lives. Religion can also act as a moral and ethical guide for behaviour and is a defining element of many cultures. It is only natural then that some of the practices and beliefs people have as part of their religion intersect with the workplace. As many workplaces exist within a cultural setting dominated by one particular group, it is increasingly necessary for businesses and leaders to adopt an agile and aware approach so they can be inclusive and supportive of their staff.
Here are some of the tangible actions we can take to navigate this type of challenge in the workplace.
Some suggestions are:

  1. Be Ahead of the game – Use a diversity Calendar that notes the important dates from many religions, so you are able to be aware of timing and scheduling for meetings, busy periods etc. There are numerous one available on the internet.
  2. Be Inclusive – find the shared values within religious holidays that can be used to unite and connect people regardless of individual religions.
  3. Be Flexible – Allow staff time off during important celebrations and be aware of when they occur during the year so major conflicts can be avoided
  4. Be Aware and respectful- When organising parties ensure that non-alcoholic beverages and religious dietary requirements are considered.
  5. Be mindful
  6. Recognise and Educate- use the opportunities of religious celebrations and holidays to highlight the benefits of diversity and allow people to appreciate cultures beyond their own. Perhaps encourage an education session on the particular event.