Christmas Card Advice from an Equality & Diversity Specialist
You’ve survived Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You’ve got the date in the diary for the annual festive outing with colleagues. Now it’s a countdown to some well-earned down time at home. Wait a minute though! What about sending some Christmas cards to your colleagues?
But is it that simple in our multi-cultural age? Should I be sending Christmas cards at all if my colleagues aren’t Christian? Should I be avoiding nativity scenes if my colleagues are atheist? Are Office Christmas Cards Politically Correct?…..
What appears to be a relatively simple custom starts to turn into a minefield! The good news is that it doesn’t have to!
The Legal Position
Under human rights and anti-discrimination legislation, you have the right to hold your own religious beliefs or other philosophical beliefs similar to a religion. You also have the right to have no religion or belief. Under the Equality Act 2010, it is unlawful for someone to discriminate against you because of your religion or belief (or because you have no religion or belief). An employer should seek to balance the religious or belief needs of an employee with the legitimate needs of the business and the interests of others
Recent European Court of Human Rights rulings tells us that:
“Employees may assert the right to discuss their personal beliefs in the workplace and employers should not prevent such conversations, unless to do so is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim; for example, if the conversations amount to harassment of other people.”
What does this mean in practice?
So unless someone has asked you not to send them a Christmas card it’s unlikely to cause a problem. If you were to single out people of other faiths and send cards only to them, or if a colleague has made it clear to you that they do not want to receive Christmas cards from you but you still send them one, then you could be harassing your colleague or indirectly discriminating against them.
What if it’s against company policy?
I have come across a few companies who have entered into the ‘Are Christmas Cards Politically Correct’ debate and have opted for a blanket ‘no Christmas card’ rule (bahh humbug!). Although thankfully this idea appears to be on the wane. If this is the case and you’d like to send cards, instead of breaching policy, why not canvas opinion and enter into a dialogue with your employer. Find out what the concerns are and agree a solution that’s acceptable to all.
And the nativity scene?
Some organisations take the view that their corporate Christmas cards should be “multi-faith” and depict non-religious images. Another way of looking at it, is that a nativity scene honestly reflects the occasion.
It’s not really about being ‘politically correct’, the answer is actually just open, honest communication! Talk to your colleagues about what they think. You might be surprised! After all, Christmas isn’t really about Black Friday or Cyber Monday; the most important message at Christmas is one of peace, love and inclusion for everyone – whoever you are and whatever your faith or belief.
So go ahead if you wish and send your cards. At the same time, be sensitive to those who would prefer not to receive them.
And if we still can’t agree?
Instead of sending cards, you could pool the money that you all save and donate to one of the many deserving charities that could put your cash to good use!
So whether you send or don’t send, from all the RT team, we wish you a happy and peaceful Christmas.