Tag Archives: mutifaith calendars

Holidays & Diversity

21 Oct

Invariably when I do workshops on Diversity and Inclusion (D&I), one of the themes that comes up is holidays. With the cold weather and Halloween approaching, it makes me think of the many weeks of Christmas carols we will experience when shopping.

I love Christmas, and I love to sing – but the carols that start in November wear me down. What about those who don’t celebrate Christmas?  How does the constant barrage of Christian (and secular) holiday tunes for weeks up to the event feel for them?

Ah privilege…those of us whose holidays fall on the days work and industries shut down have it good – without realizing it!

Last week I heard that a Toronto high school scheduled its Parent-Teacher night this school year on Rosh Hashanah! Rosh Hashanah is Jewish New Year, and it started at sundown on Sept. 28th of this year’s Gregorian calendar (and ended Sept. 30th). Imagine the public outcry if Parent-Teacher night was scheduled on January 1st! There would be a few choice words…but wait, it wouldn’t even happen.

Why do things like this still occur?

I think they happen because we all have bias and don’t practice awareness of what those biases are and what blinders result. It’s hard to broaden your perspective if you don’t know its parameters. If we did understand that we all have bias and if we did practice awareness, we might (in this case) have a multifaith calendar in our office for reference, we might ask around, or we may simply do a google search to know when the big religious holidays are for the people we work with, teach, serve, or know. Because our reality isn’t everyone’s, and we don’t know everything.

Bias awareness is the foundation of the work I do as a speaker and facilitator. Without it, D&I work – to me – is just window dressing.

What important holidays are you missing? What important holidays are you celebrating in the quiet of your home or community, oblivious to your colleagues at work? 

See more.

copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity & inclusion

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