About Me

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United States
I am a M.A. in industrial/organizational psychology. Most of my experience has been in human resources and change management. My passion lies in employee assessment, organizational development and employee opinions. Website: www.IanMondrow.com LinkedIn Profile: http://linkd.in/drBYoC

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Diversity-Friendly Holiday Party

By: Ian B. Mondrow, M.A.

The holidays are a joyous time of view. From delicious foods to the anticipation of exchanging gifts. However, the holidays can be an offensive or neglected time for those that do not observe the holidays. Christmas has a tendency to obtain more attention than other holidays and thus Jews, Kwanzaa observers and Muslims are often overlooked. Just recently, my client held a holiday pot luck and my coworker decided to compose a Parody to "Twas the Night Before Christmas". Although the poem did not mention Christmas, the fact that it was based on a Christmas poem alarmed me, specifically since there were not other activities to cater to other religions. If employees feel excluded, it can have a negative effect on their commitment to the organization and their quality of work.

Given this incident, I felt it would be beneficial to compose a blog entry that emphasized how to coordinate a diversity-friendly holiday party. When planning holiday parties, I think the best mindset for any event coordinator should be "all or nothing." In other words, it is suggested that the party include all December holidays or not focus around any holidays.

Planning an inclusive holiday party is rather simple, it just takes extra thought. First off, decorations should include components from each holiday. Therefore, there can be Christmas lights/trees, Hanukkah dreidels, and a Kwanzaas Mishumaa Saba. In regards to activities, be sure that if one holiday is represented, that other activities are done to observe other holidays. The same rule applies to food. If holiday dishes are being made, be sure that the entrees of other cultures are included as well.

Hosting a non-denominational party is a simple alternative as well. Instead of holding a "holiday party", host an "employee appreciation party". This party does not focus on the holidays but rather the commitment and hard work on the employees. The decorations will not need to reflect the holiday season and employees will feel engaged by their employers.

Do not overlook the power of exclusion and inclusion. It is very easy to exclude other religions and cultures due to our own personal bias. It is important to understand that while Christmas or Hanukkah may be important to you, it may have no value to another employee. Religion is a sensitive topic for all and I imagine this post is likely offending someone. However, I want to emphasize that the purpose of any company party is not to celebrate the holiday but rather to enjoy the company of your coworkers and celebrate the hard work within the organization.

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