Jon and I had a blast recording #HRSocialHour with Micole Garatti. On the podcast, we discussed The Most Inclusive HR Influencer List, shifting the paradigm of Influencer Marketing programs, and diversifying the Influencers in the HR community. During our conversation with Micole, she made a comment around her favorite movie that made me laugh. She mentioned this genre of movies in a way I had never considered. But looking back, looking through my privilege lens, I realized that my thoughts were very seeped in the privilege of my religion being the dominant religion in the US. What was that movie & genre combo that made me laugh?
Micole said that her favorite movie is “Elf,” and mentioned that it is a Christian movie.
Honestly, I had never thought of it that way. But upon further thought, Christmas is a Christian holiday, so yes, I can understand why someone who is/was not in the Christian-realm might categorize it that way.
After she had a chance to think about it, Micole asked us about editing out that part of the conversation. Now, we would never want to share something that makes one of our guests feel uncomfortable and have done this many times in the past. But as I had also been thinking about it, I responded to Micole and asked her why. And a conversation happened. As it should!
We spend so much time assuming how someone else is feeling about a sensitive topic. Especially one that we have been conditioned to not talk about. Remember, we don’t discuss religion and that’s part of the reason why Micole wanted that piece edited. We had a great talk. It helped me to understand where she was. So I suggested we add to the conversation because if I’m not getting it right, I want to figure out how to be better, especially when it comes down to the big holiday season that’s right around the corner!
In my corner of the world, many people struggle with calling it “the holidays,” which I’m with most who roll their eyes at the pearl clutching that goes on over that. But if I really want to be inclusive, if my office is inclusive, do I know how to do that? Being a part of the “main” religion of the United States, I have the privilege of categorizing my holiday movies and music into 3 different categories: Winter-related (Jingle Bells), Secular-Christmas (Santa Claus is Coming to Town), and Christian-Christmas (Silent Night). For someone like Micole, who did not grow up with that differentiation, all 3 of those songs fall under the same category: Christian. So if I want to host a truly inclusive holiday party, what music do I play? What movies could I show? What food do I serve?
The easy answer is to ask your staff (or your friends if you are having a personal party). Find out from them what they are comfortable with and maybe even learn about some new traditions. There might be some new food to add to your holiday potluck (just don’t add the Norwegian favorite Lutefisk, trust me).
Celebrating other religious holidays doesn’t diminish your commitment to your own. I’ve been able to learn a lot from my Social Media friends, which is good for me as I don’t have easy local access to a rabbi or cleric to help me learn in person. It was great a few years ago when my daughters wanted to celebrate Hanukkah. I reached out to my friend Jonathan Segal for advice and help and now we have a menorah, some readings and music suggestions (which includes a lovely version of Hanukkah Blessings by the Steven Page).
Creating an inclusive environment isn’t difficult and it doesn’t require a large initiative. It’s small, everyday things you do to make your staff feel welcomed each and every day. It’s not difficult to find out how to help your employees have wonderful holiday seasons and you can easily show them you care by learning to say Chag Sameach and Shana Tova.
Special thanks to Micole for taking time to talk with me and help with this blog post! Find her on Twitter & connect!