People across the world will be celebrating Lunar New Year, Chinese New Year  and the Year of the Rabbit this Sunday. Lunar New Year will take place from the 22nd January into early February.  Whilst many of us benefited from the time off in the December and January bank holidays, not everyone will be able to take time off to celebrate the Lunar New Year this January.

How can your workplace consider everyone’s beliefs and cultures in the build up to Race Equality Week?

Lunar New Year is celebrated across Asia and the East/Southeast Asian diaspora. Though commonly known as Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year is the correct term to use to describe the festival in a more general context. Though the ongoing pandemic has created concerns for family members hoping to travel for celebrations, organisations can show solidarity with their employees that celebrate.

The 5 Day Challenge

Race Equality Matters’ new solution- the 5 Day Challenge– can help to tackle race inequality in the workplace. The first day of the Challenge is an ‘eye-opener’ that encourages people to reflect on their assumptions, actions and attitudes towards race in their professional and personal lives. It asks participants:

Race Equality Matters 5-Day Challenge

When you or your team organise social activities, how often are everyone’s opinions, concerns and beliefs taken into account?

The Lunch Break Bonding survey, with over 200 organisations, found that 75% of employees would enjoy their workplace more if there were more social/team-building activities. 

However, workplace social activities can often be isolating for certain individuals that do not feel included in the workplace culture. Whether for religious reasons or homelife commitments, some social activities can often exclude employees. 

A 2020 study found that more than 10% feel excluded by work socials/drinks, with another study indicating that many feel obliged to attend drinking events even if they do not want to attend. Creating a diverse organisation goes beyond the confines of the workplace and requires a holistic approach to inclusivity, including social activities.

How can work social activities reflect and engage everyone in a workplace?

The Lunar New Year can be celebrated within the workplace through cultural education on the meaning of the festival, with resources available on Inclusive Employers. Whilst social activities or ‘lunch and learns’ can be a fun team-building exercise, this does not directly create change or genuine inclusion. Since the pandemic, east and south-east Asian people have been subject to greater racism and hate-crime, and awareness of this has been promoted by Kimi Jolly– executive director of the support group and helpline ESA Scotland- since 2022:

“People from east and south-east Asian communities have experienced a huge increase in verbal and physical racially motivated attacks yet, up to now, there has been no support tailored to them in terms of language, cultural awareness and being able to record their ethnicity accurately.”

Therefore, comprehensive educational awareness could be promoted by your organisation instead. For example, many Chinese names  hold symbolic significance despite often being Anglicised in a western context, and therefore education and emphasis on correct pronunciation could stimulate genuine improvement for your organisation’s inclusivity.

The CIPD 2019 report, Building Inclusive Workplaces, found that inclusivity goes beyond the office walls and requires a whole system refresh:

“Organisations need to take a systemic approach to inclusion, appreciating that inclusion isn’t about allowing ‘different’ people to ‘fit in’. Instead, inclusion is about creating an environment where everyone is appreciated for being individual.”

Whether your guidance looks to use a more diverse celebration calendar (starting with the Lunar New Year) or encourages participatory suggestions from all in the organisation, every aspect of an organisation ought to uphold a commitment to inclusivity. 

Workplace culture prevails outside of the 9 to 5.

Start your journey today.  Download the Five Day Challenge Guide. #ItsEveryonesBusiness

Banner Photo Credit: San Fermin Pamplona – Navarra

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