By David McLauren

Did you know that thousands of people from virtually every nation and ethnic group arrive on our shores? It has truly become a multi-cultural mosaic. Did you know that millions of North Americans don’t celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday? This is because many North Americans are followers of non-Christian religions (Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, or Jews to name a few) or they are individuals with no religious affiliation at all. Because many stores tap into the cash value of Christmas with Santa Clauses, ornaments, and Christmas fanfare at your nearby mall, we could too easily overlook the depth of diversity present in America during the holiday season. In reality, many different events, both spiritual and religious, are based on tradition, and are celebrated in many different ways during this time of year.

It used to be that being inclusive just meant sending out politically correct “Happy Holidays” greeting cards and changing office Christmas parties to “holiday parties.” Today, though, celebrating inclusiveness and diversity is about more than just changing labels and titles. Celebrating diversity and inclusiveness is about using the holiday season as a time to be with friends and family, and to build understanding and awareness about others.

“Be a giver! Plan to leave each person you talk to with something of value.”

  • Take advantage of holiday parties to make new friends and grow your network, which in turn can lead to growing your business.
  • View each holiday gathering as a networking opportunity. Go prepared with business cards, an attitude of giving, and a commitment to helping others.
  • Reach out to those individuals who are alone in this country, invite them to your family gatherings, and make them feel special.
  • During this holiday season consider placing a special ad in their community newspapers, such as, “McLauren Associates wish you Happy Holidays”.
  • Read during holidays, and become an expert by researching and gathering interesting facts and stories about your target community.
  • Get to know who is in your target community, who lives within their families, the places they hang out, the music stations they listen to, and so on.
  • Hold an open house at your business centre, give away sweets, and distribute special post cards printed in the language of your customers and prospects.
  • Always work during holidays (except December 25) when your community is busy celebrating.
  • Don’t try to sell your products or services. Rather, ask questions to gain information about the person you are talking to, and learn about their interests and passions. Find out what’s special about them and how you can serve and encourage them.
  • Wear something unique that stands out and makes it easy for others to ask questions and start a conversation. Pins, custom nametags, and embroidered logos can pique someone’s curiosity and bring a question.
  • Be a giver! Plan to leave each person you talk to with something of value. This could be as small as a smile or as significant as a referral. Other “gifts” might include: information to help deal with an issue or situation they’re facing, a relevant and helpful article or book, or an introduction to someone they should meet and get to know.
  • Avoid the challenge of trying to balance a plate and glass while you shake hands and talk with others. When you’re eating, focus on that, but when networking, give your full attention to the person you are talking to.
  • Have a positive attitude about the event you’re attending. Let the host or organizer know how much you appreciate the hard work put in to making the event a success.
  • Prepare to offer ideas for unique, affordable, and fun holiday gifts that people you meet could give to their clients, friends, and family members.
  • Ask people what they enjoy about the holiday season and what they find challenging. Listen, and, if it’s appropriate, offer helpful suggestions.
  • Avoid any negative comments or conversation and maintain an attitude of gratitude and joy. It will prove contagious!
  • Make sure your holiday party isn’t a Christmas party in disguise. Decorations and food should be general, and not specific to any religion. Consider having a New Year’s party instead of a “Christmas” party. This type of event can also get everyone on board with your company’s mission and vision for the future.

This article has been sponsored by:
Women Worth Watching

David McLauren, Ph.D. is a diversity specialist who speaks five languages. He brings a wealth of education and expertise to businesses and brilliantly helps companies increase their profits and productivity through diversity. A highly sought-after keynote speaker, facilitator, and expert on diversity, inclusion, and multi-cultural issues, David consistently energizes, educates, and empowers his audiences.