Celebrating holidays, observances, and national days/months – and how to do it authentically at your company 

Mar 18, 2024
min read

It seems like every day or month, there’s something to celebrate in Canada; from Black History Month to Pride to Indigenous History Month, the list goes on and on. And don’t get us wrong, we love a good celebration at Humi – but how can we ensure that when we celebrate these days and months, we’re doing it authentically?

Acknowledging and celebrating holidays and observances is necessary for fostering an inclusive workplace. But it’s imperative that we approach these celebrations with sincerity, or our efforts will fall flat. Of course, we aren’t experts – we, as a company, are continuously learning and growing in these areas as well. But we want to share what we know to educate folks about what they can do in their own workplaces.

In this blog, we’ll explore why it’s important to celebrate these days/months, and how you can do it authentically at your company. 

Let’s dive in!

Why it’s important to celebrate diversity authentically 

Celebrating diversity is about recognizing the unique identities that make up your company. It’s about showing your people that you value the different backgrounds and experiences that contribute to who they are as a person. When employees feel that their individuality is recognized, it builds a sense of belonging and trust within the company. 

One important thing to remember is that when you commit to recognizing one diversity day or month, you commit to recognizing all of them. Think of it as throwing a year-round party where everyone's unique story gets a moment in the spotlight. It's a way of showing that you're all in when it comes to supporting and recognizing the different backgrounds, cultures, and identities that make up your team. 

If you're just checking a box or using these celebrations to pat yourselves on the back without real understanding or commitment, it can end up feeling like tokenism. This is when specific days or months are acknowledged only in surface-level ways, such as a simple Slack message or post on social media, without engaging in the deeper meaning or making any real changes. This kind of approach can make people feel like their identity is being used to project a certain image, rather than being truly valued and understood.

This can also lead to feelings of alienation among employees who might see these efforts as insincere or shallow. They might feel like their cultures or identities are being simplified, or worse, exploited for the sake of appearances/reputation. This sense of tokenism can cause distrust within your team, making it harder for people to feel genuinely connected to the company.

That's why it's so important to dive into these celebrations with the right mindset. It's all about coming from a place of genuine curiosity and desire to understand more about the people you work with every day. It's about listening, learning, and growing together as a team. 

When you approach diversity celebrations this way, it helps build a stronger, more inclusive culture where everyone feels respected and valued. It's not just about the celebration itself, but about fostering a deeper sense of belonging and trust across your organization.

Crafting authentic celebrations

Creating authentic celebrations requires thoughtful planning and execution. Here are some steps to guide you:

  1. Understand the importance of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) observances
    Begin by acknowledging the significance of EDI observances in the workplace. These events provide opportunities for education, celebration, and reflection, allowing employees to connect with one another on a deeper level. Incorporating these observances into your calendar shows your commitment to recognizing and respecting the diversity within your organization.
  2. Research and inclusion
    To create a robust EDI Observances calendar, invest time in researching and identifying key events that resonate with the various cultures and communities within your workforce. Consider religious holidays, cultural celebrations, heritage months, and other important dates that hold significance for your employees. There are many EDI Observances calendars out there companies have already created that you can use for guidance as you create your own internal one!
  3. Collaboration and input
    Foster a collaborative environment by seeking input from your employees, or your EDI committee/volunteers. Encourage open dialogue and invite team members to share their perspectives on which observances are meaningful to them. This inclusive approach ensures that the calendar reflects the diverse experiences and backgrounds of your workforce.
  4. Integration with internal communications
    Integrate the EDI Observances calendar seamlessly into your internal communications strategy. Regularly communicate the upcoming events through newsletters, intranet posts, and company-wide emails. Use these opportunities to educate employees about the significance of each observance and how it aligns with the company's commitment to EDI.
  5. Employee engagement initiatives
    If you have the budget, go beyond simple awareness by implementing engagement initiatives tied to EDI observances. Host workshops, webinars, or panel discussions that promote understanding and appreciation of different cultures. Encourage employees to share their stories and experiences, creating a platform for meaningful conversations.
  6. Resource accessibility
    Provide employees with resources and tools related to each observance. This could include reading materials, documentaries, or links to relevant external content. Empowering your workforce with knowledge enhances their understanding and appreciation of diversity. (Make sure you use credible sources!)
  7. Feedback and continuous improvement
    Establish a feedback loop to assess the impact of your EDI Observances calendar. Encourage employees to share their thoughts and suggestions on how to improve future initiatives. This not only demonstrates your commitment to ongoing improvement but also ensures that your efforts align with the evolving needs of your workforce.

Leadership’s role in celebrating diversity

As with most things related to workplace culture, celebrating diversity starts from the top. Leadership should play a pivotal role in supporting diversity at your workplace. They can set the tone by joining the EDI committee, actively participating in diversity celebrations, and promoting inclusive policies. By doing so, they can inspire others in the organization to follow suit and contribute to a culture of inclusivity.

Support from EDI committees/volunteers

Engaging EDI volunteers or committee members in the process of curating and promoting EDI Observances is not only a strategic approach but also a means to tap into their valuable insights and experiences. Have them collaborate in creating the content, or have them actually post it. 

Here at Humi, we share our EDI Observances Calendar document with the EDI team monthly, asking those who are interested and able to share to chime in. It also allows those who have a connection to a specific observance or national day to make it a bit more personalized.

Wrapping up

Celebrating diversity days and months is more than just a corporate responsibility; it's an opportunity to enrich your company culture, foster inclusivity, and show your employees that they are valued and respected. Taking the initiative to celebrate diversity in a meaningful and authentic way creates a workplace where everyone feels seen, heard, and appreciated.

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