DE&I DE&I In Marketing

Many Reasons, One Season: Navigating Holiday Celebrations

Whether you’re celebrating Diwali, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Bodhi Day, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve or the Chinese New Year, the holiday season is an exciting one for people across the globe. 

According to information from the Pew Research Center, over 90% of Americans celebrate Christmas. It’s not a surprising statistic given the holiday’s traditional values and vice grip on marketing. But that doesn’t mean that we get a free pass to overwhelm advertising campaigns and workplaces with one-sided holiday cheer. 

Sure, it’s hard for many of us to grasp that millions of Americans don’t celebrate Christmas, but the first step in creating inclusivity is accepting discomfort in the unknown. This discomfort indicates that learning and meaningful change is underway. Change that opens your eyes to the voices and world views around you. 

The reason for the season should be a celebration of diversity in the workplace and the unique, authentic world views it provides. Not a burden on those who don’t share the reason. Here are some key considerations for marketers during this holiday season.


Reimagining Holiday Campaigns

A key takeaway we’ve promoted to clients this holiday season is to expand the narrative. Don’t trap yourself into a corner just because your consumers have grown to expect the same content every year. 

If you’re generating a holiday campaign that focuses on traditional holiday themes and messaging, consider how you can present these ideas in a new, inclusive way. Consider the family that celebrates a different holiday and how your ads can convey community or shared experiences. Think of the families you’re depicting. Are there people from various racial and ethnic backgrounds? Single mothers or fathers? 

Meta conducted a survey across Facebook users, finding that only 41% of U.S. consumers feel represented in the ads they see. 

You don’t have to lose your creative direction, but you can and should take your inclusivity to the next level. Showcase diversity, challenge yourself and your partners to think outside of the box and find new ways to emotionally appeal to families, neighbors and communities as a whole.


How to Celebrate in the Workplace

Outside of advertising and marketing campaigns, employers look to the holiday season as a time of reflection and celebration for the year’s achievements. But if you’re going to shout out or celebrate just one holiday, it’s high time that you reflect on your diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. It all starts with listening.

“83% of people think they aren’t heard fairly or equally at work.” UKG

Ask. Simply ask your employees what holidays observe, if they’d like to celebrate the day at work or if they’d prefer to see fewer decorations surrounding a single holiday. In a study by AllVoices, 41% of people have left a job because they didn’t feel listened to.

Be intentional with the language surrounding your company’s holiday celebration and include opportunities for cultural education. One of our favorite ways to learn more about our teammates is through potlucks. A holiday potluck doesn’t just have an inclusive appeal with opportunity for learning… it appeals to plenty of tummies too! 

By including food options that meet specific dietary needs or restrictions and limiting the placement and volume of holiday decorations, employers can establish a mutual respect with their teammates. Perhaps add in trivia or a game designed to teach people about cultures and holiday celebrations across the globe. With intentional planning, a holiday celebration can be inclusive, educational, and most of all, fun!

However — and we cannot emphasize this enough — please make sure your holiday party isn’t a Christmas party in disguise. Employees and teammates will see right through this, creating a non-inclusive celebration and alienating employees that don’t observe Christmas. 

It’s important to note that if someone doesn’t want to participate or feels uncomfortable, don’t press them to join in a holiday celebration. This includes remote employees! It can be difficult to feel present in a virtual meeting, especially if a large portion of your team meets in person. Consider ways you can include remote employees or create an opportunity for them to share in the inclusive holiday celebration.  

The holidays can also be a painful time for those going through loss or who didn’t grow up around a specific holiday. Respect their boundaries and never take someone’s upbringing and beliefs for granted. 

Actions speak louder than words, but if you’re going to take action, ensure your words are lifting up and acknowledging every voice in the room. And don’t just limit learning and cultural celebrations to just one time a year! Spread them out to show your support and advocacy throughout the entire year. You’ll not only grow stronger as an individual from it; employees will feel greater levels of trust in leadership and identify office spaces as safe spaces, allowing your company to flourish. 

“Companies with ethnic diversity are 36% more likely to outperform their less diverse peers.” McKinsey

So, we leave you with two questions – 

Is your seasonal campaign representative of the faces and voices that make up our communities?  

How are you creating an inclusive holiday celebration in your workplace? 

It’s estimated that 80% of companies in the U.S. have a diversity, equity and inclusion committee or initiative in place. At MHP/Team SI, we’re committed to our committee and lifting up diverse voices in our workplace. We’re giving back through community involvement and have had the honor of highlighting local artists through our Innovative Artist Series

You can learn more by visiting our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee page.