Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah, Oh My!

On oldie but a goodie, we would like to share with you a message from our President, David C. Noland, that he shared with our clients and colleagues in December, 2013:

The holiday season is upon us and people are bustling about in eager anticipation of time spent with family, celebrating their holiday traditions.  This time of year is a great reminder of how we each come from different cultural backgrounds.  These differences should be celebrated, accepted, and should provide us an opportunity to get to know each other better, not create battle lines.

The basic definition of culture is a set of beliefs or customs pertaining to a particular group.  Each of our traditions and beliefs that go with this joyous season are part of our cultural make up.  These differences, no matter how great or small, should be celebrated.

As an HR Professional, I am asked this time of year about maintaining the neutrality of the holiday season. Rather than basic neutrality, this season should be defined by strengthening relationships with one another. To clarify, this means that everyone, regardless of their beliefs or traditions, should feel welcome to celebrate their background.  The neutral terminology stems from this desire to ensure that no one feels left out.

Religious beliefs and customs become more prominent during the winter holidays. In the workplace, it is important that HR professionals be alert to employee needs and be open to accommodations.

Make sure that managers are aware of how to handle requests for religious accommodations. To encourage the acceptance of various religious traditions and customs, educate employees on various religious customs and holidays to aid in understanding these different customs and traditions.

We all have beliefs and traditions that we hold close which have become integral parts of who we are.  Recognizing those differences can either divide us or bring us closer together.  Each of us has the responsibility, especially in the workplace, to demonstrate respect to each other.

This time of year is a great time to practice respect and dignity for everyone you come into contact with. Keep in mind that understanding and listening to someone else’s viewpoint doesn’t necessarily mean you agree with them. I encourage each of you to take the time to learn to celebrate the diverse traditions, customs, and beliefs that are unique to each of us this time of year.


HRCentral wishes you and your families and safe and joyous holiday season!

Are You Competent…With Culture?

In today’s diverse work environments, Cultural Competence is an absolute essential for success. While we know we should practice it, we don’t often don’t understand what Cultural Competence means.

Before we can fully understand it, we need to get the basics down: “‘Culture’ refers to integrated patterns of human behavior that include the language, thoughts, communications, actions, customs, beliefs, values, and institutions of racial, ethnic, religious, or social groups. ‘Competence’ implies having the capacity to function effectively as an individual and an organization within the context of the cultural beliefs, behaviors, and needs presented by consumers and their communities” (hhs.gov, adapted from Cross, 1989). (more…)