The music streaming service Spotify recently announced a dramatic change in their holiday policy. “From now on, every Spotifier has the opportunity to take the holidays that matter to them. They can choose to work on a day that is a public holiday in the country they work in, and swap it for another work day instead. This means they can be off of work on a day that fits their observations or beliefs better. For example, someone who works in a country where Christmas is a public holiday, can now choose to work on Christmas Day and switch it for a day off on another date that is important for them to celebrate. Yom Kippur? Diwali? International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia? It’s their day, their choice.”
Is this the future? Are companies going to remove all references to Christmas? Will it be “winter break” and “happy holidays?’
I’ve been on both sides of the fence so often I should have a gold medal in the high jump. I now recommend calling Christmas “Christmas”—in most cases. Here’s the full story.
Diversity is more than changing words
In the past I’ve tried to be more inclusive by calling the company party a “winter party” and using winter instead of Christmas images. But pretending Christmas doesn’t exist is disingenuous. I think human resources and management can do much more important things to promote cultural understanding throughout the year. Two simple ideas:
- A calendar that at least lists the important cultural celebrations of the area’s cultural groups: Junteenth, Eid, Ramadan, Yom Kippur, etc.
- Floating holidays allow employees to take days off that are important to their culture.
These are only very small parts of a total diversity initiative.
Workforce composition matters.
Spotify is international. North Star NP clients are local. According to Wikipedia, Christianity dominates the religious persuasion of Minnesota residents (about 74%) But there is a long history of non-Christian faith (pioneers formed Saint Paul’s first synagogue in 1856) and there are now appreciable numbers of adherents to Islam, Buddhism, and other traditions. There are also atheists and this number is growing.
What does that mean in terms of recognizing a Christian holiday? Well, to me it means that the majority of your employees are going to be buying presents, having parties, cooking special foods, visiting relatives, singing special songs and wearing special clothes during December. That’s pretty hard to ignore.
Workforce size matters
Spotify is BIG–especially compared to the local nonprofits that we serve at North Star NP. Spotify is big enough to keep offices open even when many people are on leave. I see benefits to everyone taking the same days off. The work doesn’t pile up as fast!
No war on Christmas
The phrase “Happy Holidays” has been used for over 100 years, and has been embraced by many who seek to be sensitive and inclusive to others. President Trump has made a big point of being against the so-called “war on Christmas” even though his predecessor President Obama regularly publicly wished the people a “Merry Christmas.” Let’s back away from politicizing the season and just celebrate joy and peace.