November 22, 2022

231: Being Thoughtful about the End of Year Holidays with Jen O’Ryan

It’s that time of year again. Holidays are coming up, and while some messages and practices will be perfect for your team members’ individual needs, others won’t match up with their values, beliefs, or lifestyles. Despite the busyness of this season, it’s crucial for managers to consider how all people may be experiencing the upcoming holidays. With intentionality, managers can create an environment where people of all beliefs and practices can feel seen and included.

Today’s guest is Dr. Jen O’Ryan. Jen is a consulting editor specializing in Inclusion, Diversity, and Representation. She works with organizations to design content, culture, and processes that are welcoming and inclusive. Jen has a PhD in Human Behavior and her background in tech includes designing new experiences for customers, launching global initiatives, and leading organizational change.

Jen and I talk about the hidden places that bias shows up and how we may be unintentionally setting up barriers or making things challenging for our colleagues, and of course, what to do about it. We also go deep on how to be thoughtful about the end of year holidays which can have religious undertones and bring up lots of feelings for folks.

Members of the Modern Manager community can get 1 of 3 copies of Jen’s book, Inclusive AF: A Field Guide for “Accidental” Diversity Experts. Designed for anyone thinking about Inclusion and Diversity, AF outlines a roadmap to safely introduce meaningful and lasting change. Get it when you join the Modern Manager community.

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Read the related blog article: Design an Inclusive Holiday Party (or Anything, Really!)





Key Takeaways:

  • Create an atmosphere of psychological safety so that your team willingly gives honest feedback. Be vulnerable and admit mistakes. Keep your door open for questions or input. Ask if things work for them.
  • When designing a party (or product, marketing materials, etc), consider how different people would experience it. Imagine different ways of being in the world and what people would need.
  • Invite your team to share what holidays they celebrate and what they need to feel supported, either with time off, language used, or anything else.
  • Educate yourself on the different holidays. Bring in experts for objective knowledge and don’t make assumptions about how people practice or observe various holidays.
  • The holiday season may bring up grief or difficult emotions for those estranged from loved ones. Some people may be less celebratory and need extra support during this time.
  • Ask your team what accomplishments they are celebrating at the end of the year. Make this the focus, imagery, and language associated with your party rather than a religious lens.

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