74 HR MAGAZINE NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2018
how voluntary it is [and] that nothing is going to
happen if you go or don’t go,” she says.
Provide food options. “Christmas ham is popular, but many groups would not eat that ham—
Jewish, Muslim, Hindu,” Levine says. That’s why
it’s important to serve food that meets employees’ kosher, halal and vegetarian dietary needs.
However, just o;ering variety might not su;ce.
For some, even seeing certain meats next to their
preferred dishes would be o;ensive, she says, so
consider placing di;erent kinds of food on separate tables.
Consider a two-stage party. Committed Muslims don’t drink alcohol, and “they also don’t want
to be present where alcohol is served,” says Hanadi
Chehabeddine, a diversity trainer on Islam in Eden
Prairie, Minn. Many also might be uncomfortable
with secular music and dancing. She suggests planning a party with two parts, one with no alcohol
in the initial stage when leaders thank employees
and make any special announcements, and then
a more free-;owing celebration in which alcohol
is available and music is played. The schedule of
events should be clearly spelled out in the invitation,
she advises, so that attendees know what to expect
and can make their choices accordingly.
This approach wouldn’t accommodate only Muslims. The alcohol-free portion of the event might
also be appreciated by pregnant women, recovering
alcoholics and people of other faiths, she says.
Choose decorations carefully. If your o;ce
chooses to put up holiday decorations, seek ways to
make them inclusive. Consider adding educational
cards nearby to explain the religious tradition to
others, the Tanenbaum Center advises. Be aware
that red and green decorations are associated with
‘THERE ARE HOLIDAYS AND
CELEBRATIONS THAT HAP;
PEN THROUGHOUT THE YEAR,
AND YET THEY DON’T SEEM
TO GET THE SAME KIND OF
ATTENTION THAT HOLIDAYS
AT THE END OF THE YEAR DO.’
REV. MARK FOWLER
U.S. RELIGIOUS IDENTIFICATION
48. 5 Catholic
Christmas, Levine says, while blue and white are
traditionally used for Hanukkah celebrations.
Make gift exchanges optional. Employees
shouldn’t be forced to buy gifts for their co-workers,
Peterson says. At Cook Ross, all employees receive a
$20 Visa gift card from the company that they can
use to purchase a present for a colleague. Those
who want to participate sign up on a website and
receive a co-worker’s name and a list of things that
the person might like, he says.
Create awareness of other religions. Even HR
professionals at small companies can help employees
learn about other religions and holidays throughout
the year, Ahmad says. Start with an interfaith calendar. Ask employees which holidays are important to them and recognize those religious holidays
throughout the year. At Accenture’s New York City
o;ce, for example, workers participated in a “challah
bake” to learn more about the special bread made
for the Jewish Sabbath.
“When you bring people together to celebrate in
those ways, it creates better engagement,” Ahmad
says. “When people get to know and understand
one another, we know that collaboration increases.”
At Texas Instruments, employees are invited to
panel discussions to learn more about the various
religions of their fellow workers, Johnson recalls.
“They have much more in common than people realize,” he says.