As the year draws to a close, businesses worldwide are gearing up for their end-of-year festivities and holiday plans.

However, global employment experts Remote are shedding light on the importance of inclusivity during the holiday season and providing guidance on ensuring that these celebrations do not inadvertently leave anyone feeling isolated.

Remote, a company with over 900 employees spanning more than 65 countries, emphasises the significance of embracing a global-first hiring model. While this approach can bring diverse cultural perspectives that drive innovation, it also poses unique challenges for companies with distributed workforces, especially during the holiday season.

Differences need to be acknowledged

The holiday season is traditionally a time for joy and celebration, but it’s crucial to acknowledge that different cultures observe various holidays and traditions. Some may not celebrate at all. Neglecting these differences can lead to employees feeling excluded. Studies consistently show that an inclusive company culture contributes to higher employee engagement, impacting both satisfaction and overall business performance.

Barbara Matthews, Chief People Officer at Remote, underscores the need for prioritising inclusivity during end-of-year planning. “The holiday season can mean many different things to different people, and prioritising inclusivity ensures we recognise and value diversity rather than endorsing a one-size-fits-all approach,” says Matthews.

To assist businesses in fostering inclusivity during the holiday season, Remote has compiled a Holiday Inclusivity Playbook featuring 10 expert tips:

  1. Offer ‘floating’ holidays: Allow employees to choose which religious holidays they want to celebrate with paid leave.
  2. Build a holiday calendar: Highlight different religious events and awareness days to ensure everyone is aware of upcoming holidays.
  3. Be flexible: Acknowledge employees’ commitments outside of work, such as childcare or travel obligations.
  4. Respect time zone differences: Consider employees in different time zones when scheduling meetings and allowing time off.
  5. Recognise individual preferences: Respect diverse preferences for holiday celebrations, ensuring attendance is optional.
  6. Establish a diverse event-planning committee: Ensure varied perspectives are considered in holiday event planning.
  7. Celebrate successes: Focus on recognising and celebrating the achievements of teams and individuals.
  8. Understand the holidays can be difficult for some: Respect that not everyone may be in a celebratory mood, and avoid pressuring employees.
  9. Avoid making cultural assumptions: Don’t assume holiday preferences based on religion or cultural background; instead, ask.
  10. Offer year-round education: Educate the workforce on diversity and inclusion, emphasising ongoing learning.

The playbook extends to provide five key ground rules for holiday work events, ensuring that inclusivity remains a priority. It emphasises accommodating everyone, providing options, showing appreciation, avoiding overemphasis on specific traditions, and stressing voluntary participation.

Barbara Matthews offers tips on educating employees about the importance of inclusivity. Her recommendations include leading by example, making inclusivity a core value, creating a psychologically safe environment, providing comprehensive training, and encouraging interaction and collaboration.

Diversity and inclusivity aren’t just corporate buzzwords; they are essential elements that drive innovation and performance. Statistics reveal that gender and ethnically diverse companies outperform their peers, diverse leadership drives increased revenue, and diverse teams outperform individual decision-makers.

Continued efforts

However, a 2023 report by Workhuman indicates a perception gap between HR leaders and employees regarding improvements in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. While progress has been made, there’s a need for continued efforts to make DEI a non-negotiable workplace factor.

Companies are urged to evaluate their commitment to diversity and inclusivity based on their diversity statement, language use, and workforce composition. As businesses increasingly adopt a global-first mindset, the holiday season provides an opportunity for reflection on the inclusivity of the modern workplace.

As the winter season arrives and businesses reflect on the past year, it is imperative to scrutinize and reinforce commitments to diversity and inclusivity, ensuring that these values remain central to the corporate culture.





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.