ployee base, it’s sending a message—and maybe it’s
not an intended message—that your faith doesn’t
matter here,” Johnson says.
In some workplace cultures, employees are encouraged to “bring their whole selves to work.” But
if employees are worried about hiding an essential
element of who they are, such as their deeply held
religious beliefs, they can’t actually do that.
Sumreen Ahmad, global change management
A BETTER WAY
director at Accenture in Detroit, says of her Mus-
lim faith, “[It has allowed me] to tap into parts of
who I am as a leader that normally I might not have
otherwise. I’m driven by my faith.”
Ahmad, who leads the Interfaith North America
Employee Resource Group at Accenture, says her
religion gives her a greater sense of purpose and
drives her to a higher standard of accountability
Here are some tips for holding more-inclusive year-end events:
Create a diverse planning committee. Avoid
missteps by involving people with varying beliefs
when preparing for any holiday events, says Deborah
Levine, editor-in-chief of the American Diversity
Report. But remember that not all people of the
same faith choose to observe and celebrate holidays
the same way.
Avoid scheduling mistakes. Check an interfaith calendar to avoid scheduling the end-of-year
celebration on any of the holidays that might fall
in December. For example, Hanukkah, the Jewish
Festival of Lights, begins at sundown on Dec. 2 and
ends the same time on Dec. 10 this year. Buddhists
celebrate Bodhi Day on Dec. 8.
Make it voluntary. If you’re hosting a holiday
party, don’t make it mandatory. Some people won’t
feel comfortable attending. Jehovah’s Witnesses,
for example, don’t celebrate holidays. Others may
have personal reasons for wanting to steer clear.
For instance, people who are grieving, depressed
or otherwise dissatis;ed with some aspect of their
lives can ;nd the holidays to be painful reminders
of who or what they’re missing.
Make it clear to employees that their attendance
is optional, says attorney Helene Wasserman, a
shareholder with Littler in Los Angeles. Make sure
that supervisors understand that as well. The HR
team may say it’s optional, but do employees really
“Is your boss going to be o;ended that you’re not
there?” Wasserman asks. Will you miss out on that
next promotion? “That’s why it’s vital that managers
realize—that all their employees realize—exactly
FALL AND WINTER
Bodhi Day This Buddhist holiday, which
commemorates the day that Siddhartha
Guatama, the historical Buddha,
experienced enlightenment, is traditionally
celebrated on Dec. 8.
Christmas This celebration of the birth of Jesus, the
central figure of Christianity, takes place on
Dec. 25. For Eastern Orthodox Christians, it
takes place on Jan. 7.
Diwali This five-day Hindu Festival of Lights begins
Nov. 6 in 2018 and Oct. 27 in 2019.
Eid al-Fitr This celebration that marks the end of
Ramadan in the Muslim faith has shifting
dates and can sometimes fall in December.
However, in 2019, it will start at sundown
on June 4.
Hanukkah In 2018, this eight-day Jewish Festival of
Lights will start at sundown on Dec. 2 and
end at sundown Dec. 10.
Kwanzaa This weeklong secular holiday honoring
African-American heritage is celebrated
Dec. 26-Jan. 1 each year.
This traditional Chinese holiday marking the
end of winter falls on Feb. 5, 2019.
Yule This Wiccan or pagan celebration of the
winter solstice takes place every year
between Dec. 20 and Dec. 23.
Source: Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding.
Employees at Accenture’s New York City o;ce participate
in a “challah bake” to learn more about the special
bread made for the Jewish Sabbath and holidays.