CEO attacked me in an all-staff email, I can’t give my employee satisfying answers, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Our CEO attacked me in an all-staff email for scheduling a happy hour on Rosh Hashanah

I work at a nonprofit in lower management. Two folks who report to me and I report to a VP who reports to the CEO. One of my reports recently received another job offer. We countered but he still chose to move on, highlighting some concerns about how we’ve been handling DEI recently. I share those concerns and made that clear in the follow-up discussion with senior management about his departure. It was very clear to me in those discussions that the CEO does not agree that these are problems we need to address.

There was a tense staff meeting where our CEO does this thing where he doesn’t really have an agenda and asks people to talk and ask questions. My departing direct report asked a lot of questions. They were good questions, but I definitely noticed the CEO’s hackles going up.

I then sent around a goodbye happy hour invitation to all staff from my team and the other team involved. The CEO responded directly to me telling me that FYI, I have scheduled this happy hour over Rosh Hashanah.

This is not a holiday we get off or a holiday that has been raised as a scheduling issue during my tenure here. But I apologized profusely and suggested to my CEO another time when he could say goodbye to our departing colleague. I checked in with our interim DEI director, who saw no problem with me going ahead with that date, and I emailed back to all staff, apologizing for any implication that I didn’t want to include people, but commenting that it was the only time that worked for the relevant teams and that we’d be happy to set something else up if folks wanted an alternative.

Our CEO responded to my email (and all of the staff). He accused me of disrespecting his religion and for over two paragraphs explained why he could not believe that I was this disrespectful and that I was forbidden to spend any company money (which we had not asked for) on a happy hour that was so offensively scheduled. He added that this was clearly a violation of our DEI plan since it was religious discrimination.

Am I missing something here? I’m an atheist and am definitely not an expert in any of this. But this is a day that we are legally required to be in the office. We have never been offered an alternative to that. Our Jewish staff have to use a vacation day if they want to celebrate the holiday. And I am getting criticized for scheduling something on that day. Obviously, in an ideal world, this would be a day the company just gave everyone off so that we didn’t have to interfere with the practice of our colleagues’ religion. And had our CEO in his initial email told me that I needed to reschedule the event, I would have tried to do that. The way this went down honestly feels like a trap.

There are two separate things going on here. First, yes, organizations should avoid scheduling things on Rosh Hashanah and other major religious dates. That’s true even though your staff doesn’t get the day off (which is true of pretty much all non-Christian religious holidays at most organizations). But separately, your CEO’s reaction was wildly over the top — if he had an issue with the scheduling, he should have talked to you directly, not sent a scathing all-staff email raking you over the coals. It sounds like he disliked being questioned publicly about DEI (an issue he apparently hasn’t been very concerned about before now) and decided to respond with this attack. It reads very much like it’s coming from a place of spite (you made him uncomfortable on DEI issues so here’s what you get) rather than genuinely raising an issue with you. (One key piece of evidence: if he wanted to genuinely raise it in a non-spiteful way, he’d do it in a private meeting with you, or you and the DEI director, not in an angry all-staff email.)

I do think it’s a problem that you pretty much blew off the CEO when he raised the scheduling concern to you initially! At least you should have circled back to him and told him you proposed going ahead with the date after consulting with the DEI director, and given him a chance to weigh in. It does seem disrespectful that you didn’t do that when he’d told you it was a concern for him. But his reaction is so over the top that it’s clearly not about your actions.

2. I can’t give my employee satisfying answers to her questions

I have a newish report who is very thoughtful and asks a lot of questions about the work she does. This is the only client that she and I work together on. I know that she is working hard to understand our work and go above and beyond, which is really great, but this is a client that we can’t go above and beyond with due to the volume of work and a low billing rate that’s not negotiable. When she asks me why we do a certain process and if it’s open to changes, the real answer is usually either “I don’t know and I don’t want to look into it because we can’t get paid for that” or “We’ve always done it this way and setting up a different process will take longer than continuing the current process.”

I hate giving her such unsatisfying answers when I know that she wants to do well and I will say something like, “I know this is an unsatisfying answer, but we can’t spend time looking into this so I need you to just do what I’m asking. Let me know if you have questions about that, but anything outside of this process isn’t going to be relevant to this client.” I’m worried that shutting her down with this particular client will be discouraging. Am I saying the wrong thing?

Have you explained to her why you’ve determined that this approach (non-inquisitiveness and no changes) is necessary with this client? That’s actually a pretty interesting topic and would give your employee insight into a different aspect of your team’s functioning — i.e., she might not learn the answer to the question she asked originally, but she’ll learn how you make that kind of client management decision and why, and that’s valuable. Then once she has that baseline understanding, you’ll be able to refer back to it when it comes up in the future. (And who knows, once she understands it, she might be able to make suggestions that do fit in the framework you want her to use.)

Also, if you haven’t been explicit that you want her asking those sorts of questions about other clients, make sure you’re clearly encouraging that.

If you’ve already done all this, then you should be fine to continue what you’ve been doing.

3. Interviewer wanted a 2-hour “deep dive” into my life

I had a first interview with a hiring manager at a software start-up today, and it was going okay. I was feeling a little up in the air about it, but after I asked at the end of the interview what the rest of the process would be like, I immediately knew I was out.

My interviewer listed out four more interview rounds with different stakeholders and then a final round of what he described as a two-hour “deep dive” with him, that could get “very personal” discussing scenarios in my life and work and explaining how they impact how I work and the decisions I make. This felt wild to me and I emailed the recruiter to withdraw my consideration.

Is this normal? Is this a thing I should expect while interviewing for a mid-level tech role?

No, a “very personal” two-hour “deep dive” into your personal life is not normal or something you should expect. A deep dive into your work and how you operate there, sure. But if he was clear that it would also include your non-work life, that’s seriously overstepping and strange.

(And good lord, if they don’t already have a good feel for you after five previous interviews, something is wrong anyway.)

4. Drinking out of brewery-branded pint glasses

I work primarily from home and I also drink a ton of water/coffee/tea/seltzer/etc. throughout the day. If you’ve seen the memes about women with multiple half full beverages on their desk at all times, that’s me. I also have a decent little collection of pint glasses from microbreweries I’ve visited all over the world while traveling. I never really thought about what I was drinking out of, until today when a coworker across the country spotted the branding of a brewery from her area on my pint glass of iced coffee. The pre-meeting chat quickly turned to breweries, beer, other alcoholic beverages of choice, etc. I don’t think anyone was uncomfortable, but this was an internal meeting and our organization is fairly casual and open.

It got me wondering, do pint glasses from microbreweries raise eyebrows in a work-from-home setting? I do have other plain glasses that I could use, but they’re smaller which wouldn’t be as convenient. Should I make a point to steer the conversation away from drinking and focus more on the trip or travel if it comes up again? Avoid using brewery glasses with external folks on calls? Or is this something that people wouldn’t think anything of? For what it’s worth, the logos aren’t profane or inappropriate in any way, and most of them aren’t even something you’d associate with beer or alcohol unless you were familiar with that brewery and their logo (so not like Bud Light or anything that well recognized).

Nah, you are fine.

I would give a very mild caveat if the pint glass combined with the look of your beverage made it appear that you were drinking a beer, but based on your beverages that doesn’t sound likely.

(And to be clear, I don’t mean to suggest that everyone should scrutinize their beverages to make sure they can’t possibly be mistaken for alcohol! Generally, unless the misleading signals are as strong as with the non-alcoholic beer question from last week, this is a non-issue. But since you’re asking the question, it’s an interesting side point.)

5. I’m in talks for a new position but the salary they mentioned is too low

An organization wants to bring me on board as a consultant. There is no specific role/position; rather, they are carving out something new for me as they believe I can take on a very distinct role within their team. However, they have not given me a written offer or hourly rate. Verbally, they quoted a salary which I found very low when I later converted it to an hourly rate. Should I wait until they send me a written offer to negotiate the rate? Or should I bring up now via email that the rate that they have in mind is well below what I would normally expect? On the one hand, they are creating this role for me and I don’t want them to go through the trouble, only to see me back out because of the remuneration. On the other hand, I am finding it quite awkward to approach the subject without a written offer.

I’d raise it now since they’re probably assuming you’re fine with that number if you didn’t push back when they first named it, and you don’t want them to go through all the work of figuring out the role while not knowing that’s a deal-breaker for you.

You could say, “I know you’re still ironing out details and things may change, but I did want to flag that the rate you mentioned earlier — $X — would be a sticking point for me. Based on our conversations so far, I’d be looking for something around $Y. I wanted to mention it now in case that’s prohibitive on your end.”

{ 1,009 comments… read them below }

  1. No apples and honey 4 u*

    If I were a Jewish staff member at your org I’d feel pretty disrespected tbh. You HAD to schedule it on one of the two days in the whole year that almost every practicing Jew takes off? This gives me shades of my teachers in high school telling me I couldn’t make up assignments I missed for the high holy days.

    1. Artemesia*

      And even after the Jewish CEO specifically mentioned it as a problem! YOwza. The CEO sounds like a richard here but he was right about that and doing something the CEO has directed you not to do seems pretty risky in any organization.

      1. Tinkerbell*

        Ooh, I had missed that he was Jewish – yeah, that does change the tone. (I misread it as “nobody who would have been invited to attend was actually Jewish and the CEO made a big stink about how you might offend a theoretical someone because he was peeved” – which would have been a very different thing!)

        Unfortunately, though, his answer WAS still over the top – and really isn’t something you can dig yourself out of, if he’s the type to hold grudges. You did get the DEI director’s sign-off, which is the right thing to do, but it’s possible that the DEI director didn’t realize it would be an issue either. It’s difficult for one person to be aware of ALL possible cultural/religious/etc. conflicts, which is why DEI training the whole team is so important instead of shunting all the responsibility off to a committee! If I were you, I’d apologize again… but then keep my head down and start looking for a way out if this doesn’t blow over :-\

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          It’s possible that the DEI director didn’t realize it would be an issue either.

          I think there’s an instinct for readers to cast the angry CEO as clearly-in-the-wrong-on-DEI and the departing employee with nothing left to lose as clearly-telling-uncomfortable-truths-to-power-on-DEI, and the truth may be not look like that. For example, if the DEI is concerned about acknowledging Hanukkah in a sensitive manner but completely missed Rosh Hashanah, I can see having problems with how it’s being implemented.

          (To be clear, the angry all-staff email is a terrible way to raise a point and have it be taken seriously. He undercut himself there. But LW should consider whether he has a point about the way DEI is playing out in practice vis a vis those who are often excluded.)

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            I’m definitely side-eyeing the DEI director here. If an employee comes to them with this kind of concern and they are unsure, they should do some research into the original complaint and not just wave it off. I don’t condone OPs actions from a simple “this is not how you interact with a CEO or really any public complaint” perspective, but I can see how they might have felt more empowered with the DEI signing off.

            1. ferrina*

              Also side-eyeing the DEI director. This is DEI 101- don’t schedule things for religious holidays if at all avoidable! The DEI director should have flagged this as an issue and worked with LW1 to try to find an alternate date, not said it was fine.

              Not saying to never schedule a happy hour for a religious holiday, but an attendee had flagged it as an issue and there wasn’t a comparable alternative (a 1:1 goodbye? really?), so LW should have tried to move it. Also disappointed in LW for wagging a finger at the CEO’s lack of investment in DEI, then turning around and refusing to try to accommodate a religious holiday.

              1. GS*

                Yeah – I’m like tbh fire this interim DEI director. I am so, so, so sick and tired of having to take a vacation day and people SCHEDULING stuff on my holidays. Just because we have the disrespect of not having our holidays observed by vacation calendars doesn’t mean people need to double down and schedule events, important meetings, etc. on holidays.

                1. Gato Blanco*

                  I empathize that many religious holidays are not taken as seriously as they should be in the workplace, but I don’t think the DEI director really has (or should have) much sway on after work drinks plans amongst a small team.

                  Firing the DEI director over this seems way over the top. If I am understanding correctly, this is a very minor non-work-sanctioned gathering that LW asked about. This isn’t like scheduling an important all-staff training with career advancement implications on a holiday. It’s an informal after work gathering to say goodbye to someone who appears to be a rank and file employee who took another job.

                2. Mewtwo*

                  Yep – this DEI director sucks at doing the bare minimum of their job. This was actually a very straightforward problem.

            2. Avril Ludgateaux*

              The bare minimum the DEI director should have done is Google Rosh Hashanah, and even with very little context or familiarity with Judaism, they should be able to put together that it’s at least kind of a big deal. I say this as somebody who is not Jewish myself. I’m really at a loss to understand how a person with so little investment in DEI, could have been tasked with such a specific role, and it really does speak to the idea that this company does not take DEI seriously. I sided with the LW at first thinking the CEO was the root of the problem, but it seems to be a wider structural issue in the organization.

              And, also, I’ve said this a few times in this thread (record skip), but the CEO being A Lot and really only caring about diversity so long as it affects him directly, does not justify exclusionary behavior directed toward him. It runs completely counter to DEI ideology and practice.

            3. J!*

              Yeah, I am usually the last person to side with a CEO but what kind of DEI director says “Yeah, sure, go ahead with scheduling something on Rosh Hashana” much less after a person (of any rank) has already expressed concerns about it?!

              The DEI director definitely led the letter writer astray here.

        2. Observer*

          but it’s possible that the DEI director didn’t realize it would be an issue either.

          Well, obviously the DEI director didn’t realize. But that’s not just something you expect – it’s a significant failing. You don’t need to know about all religions to have handled this correctly. For one thing, it’s generally a good idea to check a calendar for this kind of stuff. Not “let me check when Holiday X comes out”, because no one can keep track of all the different holidays. But “Let me check if there are any important holidays going on”.

          It’s worse here, though, because the CEO specifically called it out. At that point, you don’t have the excuse of having missed because you can’t keep track. You now know with certainty that this is a major holiday and that someone is being excluded because of this. It really is disturbing that the DEI director thought that despite explicitly being told that someone WAS feeling excluded – and through something that they could easily have double checked – it wasn’t a problem to go ahead.

          1. SpaceySteph*

            Yes, this was a HUGE miss by DEI. If you don’t know the Rosh Hashana is a holiday that should be avoided, you have zero business being the director of DEI.

            1. EmmaPoet*

              Agreed! This is one of the Days of Awe, it’s the Jewish New Year, and it’s a big freaking deal. If you’re in DEI and you blow it off, then please rethink your job, especially when the CEO called this out.

            2. Avril Ludgateaux*

              Even if you don’t know off the top of your head, it’s not hard to Google “Rosh Hashanah” and find out it is indeed significant. That’s the absolute bare minimum you would expect from somebody tasked with upholding DEI initiatives and practices, even in an interim role.

          2. Anon Supervisor*

            Yeah, I don’t know a heck of a lot about Judaism, but I do know that Rosh Hoshana is a big deal holiday and would avoid scheduling anything on that day if I had Jewish coworkers. Even if you don’t think someone is particularly observant in any religion, it’s best to err on the side of caution.

          3. Some Dude*

            But my understanding is they scheduled the event with the team, and this date worked for them, ergo this was not a religious holiday any of them observed. If the intent was to have the larger team be there, maybe that’s a bad look, but if you are trying to get your department together, scheduling it on a religious holiday no one going to the event observes doesn’t seem like a huge deal.

            1. Some Dude*

              Edit: re-read the original post. I didn’t realize they had sent the invite to the whole org, not just the small team. If it was a small team meeting, it wouldn’t be a big deal. An org wide event on a major religious holiday, when your CEO is Jewish and you’ve been challenging him to be better about DEI stuff? eep.

              That said, why don’t we get these holidays off? Especially in cities with sizeable jewish populations. It is a little crazy-making to have a major religious holiday for a sizeable number of the population be a regular work day.

        3. Emilia Bedelia*

          Personally, if I complained about feeling disrespected because of my religion, and then someone said “Don’t worry, I checked with the DEI director and actually you have no reason to be offended!”, I would be… more offended.

          I don’t see why the DEI director’s opinion matters here. The #1 rule of DEI is LISTEN. If someone speaks up about an issue that they, personally, are experiencing, it seems like the height of tone-deafness to debate it with another party to decide whether it’s a legitimate complaint or not.

      2. Despachito*

        But if I am reading it right, OP did the very opposite – once they learned it is a Jewish holiday, they apologized profusely and offered a different date and checked it with the relevant person and all the staff. Also please note that the CEO’s mail was worded “FYI it’s a religious holiday”, not “you cannot do that because it’s a religious holiday I/other people observe”. It was pretty vague given that there may not be any people actually observing the holiday, and OP did the right thing to cover this base asking the DEI person and the entire staff for a feedback showing the willingness to reschedule.

        OP says that it was not easy to find a date fitting all, and it seems to me reasonable to not reschedule it off the bat but check before (because it may well happen that no one is actually observing the holiday and therefore it would be a PITA to reschedule it for nothing).

        What on earth could they have done differently? Barring the non-making of the first mistake, but OP says that this was never raised as a problem before and it seems logical they did not realize that it was.

        It seems to me that the CEO here has disgustingly weaponized an otherwise valid point, and it is pretty obvious why the leaving employee had problems with the DEI.

        1. Johnnie K.*

          They could have rescheduled. Which they refused to do. That’s the issue. It’s understandable that they didn’t realise the issue in advance, though alarming, but refusing to change it and telling the CEO to say goodbye some other time was out of line.

          It’s very clear that the DEI efforts at this company are a disaster and the employee who left made the right call. They’re the only one here who comes out of this with any credit. The CEO is a jerk who is using DEI efforts to attack those he has a grievance against, and the OP is either entirely clueless or has weaponised malicious ignorance. Either way, not a good look! This company is a mess.

          1. L-squared*

            But if the original date works for everyone except the CEO (who the departing employee may not really want there anyway), why reschedule to date that is less convenient for everyone else?

            1. ShanShan*

              A lot of times, with issues like religious accommodation, people who have less clout than the CEO will be uncomfortable speaking up about issues like these because they don’t want to be the annoying Jewish person who ruined happy hour for everyone.

              This is why companies need an actual program for DEI and can’t just rely on asking people informally what they’re cool with.

              Source: my entire life as a Jewish person.

              1. fish*

                Yes.

                And Jewish issues are not typically a top-line DEI concern. So it’s quite possible that DEI director might be an expert in race and gender but equally clueless when it comes to Jewish issues.

                1. Violet Fox*

                  This would not suprise me at all. I’ve had to explain to the equivalent where I am that scheduling a major conference on Eid one year, then on Rosh Hashana the next , and then a major all hands meeting on Yom Kippur the same year as the Rosh Hahsana conference was not okay.

                  I’m also honestly not sure I got through to people.

                  Even tried to suggest that we have a central calendar of important dates including major religious holidays and major important days and deadlines for our work year but noting ever came of that, even with a lot of polite pushing.

                2. yala*

                  I really don’t think they’d be an expert in race and gender issues if they handled it like this. Even if they don’t know about Jewish holidays etc, it just doesn’t seem like someone well versed in handling other potentially fraught issues would have dismissed this the way they did.

                3. Aitch Arr*

                  Late to the party, but my company just published a Global Holiday Calendar so people can be aware of holidays when scheduling meetings and so they know when a email response may be delayed, etc.

              2. zoobeezoo*

                Co-signed, from someone who is missing the first day of an industry conference because it falls on Yom Kippur.

              3. anonsalesrep*

                Story of my life as a Jew as well. Frankly it doesn’t seem that Judaism is ever a thought when it comes to DEI. I’ve found that most companies think that “not denying time off” for a Jewish holiday is all the accommodation they need to have. Some even feel they’re being extra flexible by allowing you to take the time unpaid so it doesn’t affect your PTO days.

                I do not agree with the CEO’s handling of the situation in the least, but the OP’s “sorry, not sorry” reaction doesn’t evoke much sympathy either.

                1. FORMERHigherEdPerson*

                  Yup, my life as well.

                  If you just look at a freaking calendar and take our holidays into consideration, dayenu.

                2. Jewish librarian*

                  Yep, this. It’s a particular problem in public services roles in academia because it’s the start of term, and a “very inconvenient time” to need to be absent from work.

                  Year ago, I had to choose between my first day of grad school and Rosh Hashanah.

                  I think because many people think being Jewish is only a religious matter, and also because many of us have white privilege, our issues are put on the back burner often, when they’re considered at all. And when we bring them up, we are sometimes questioned and told we’re centring ourselves inappropriately and taking up space… I don’t want to derail too much, but it is demoralizing.

                3. tamarack and fireweed*

                  I think that’s fair. People can be right about something even if they’re being jerks about it, and even if they’re being *insincere* jerks about it.

                  The CEO doesn’t care in the least about DEI and was being embarrassed by the leaving employee, so now he’s going on the attack … against the OP who *is* in principle on board with pushing for DEI action, but realized a critical gap in the actions they themselves took

                  Now the one reason I don’t want to pile onto the OP is that … in my experience once you’re actually get involved in DEI and try to make stuff happen, this is the *exact* mistake that everyone seems to make at least once – to overlook the inclusion needs of a constituency. I’ve done it – I was so proud of the event we organized, and even got yelled at by a major scientist because including a diversity of voices was, for him, “disgracing” science. But I received a harsh message from a wheelchair user about accessibility issues that had not occurred to us. And they were *right*. The only thing you can do is to apologize gracefully, reschedule anything that still can be rescheduled, and do better next time.

            2. KRM*

              It seems that the whole team affected said “actually this date is OK”, and the DEI office basically said “if the team says it’s OK, go for it”. OPs descriptions of the CEO not agreeing that DEI is something to work on and them getting angry in meetings about DEI immediately made me think that the CEO is using Rosh Hashanah as an excuse to pretend they ‘care’ about DEI while getting to be angry at someone who is a champion of said DEI, so they get to say that LW is a total hypocrite.
              Goodbye parties happen on dates inconvenient for people all the time. This truly seems like the CEO is acting out because they don’t agree with DEI, so they’re trying to discredit anyone who is in favor of changing their DEI policies to be better.

              1. Smithy*

                This is my take. I am a nonpracticing Jew and so very often have both the elements of sharing that I’m not Christian but then amongst well meaning Jewish and non-Jewish colleagues who ask what I’m doing for Rosh Hashanah/Passover – politely and repeatedly saying nothing. Except of course for those rare/occasional moments when I do happen to attend a Jewish celebration for family reasons and so the work questions continue.

                All to say, there may very well be “out” Jewish colleagues saying the date is fine because it is genuinely fine for them. So for a colleague as senior as the CEO to bring up Rosh Hashanah and not explicitly follow by saying that its a conflict for him does bring an added level of being disingenuous. If this goodbye party is a party that they feel it is important to attend and they cannot attend due to the holiday – please voice that. But calling out a holiday on the calendar that might potentially not be observed by anyone in question, and then later saying it’s a personal conflict is not coming to the table in an open spirit.

                1. Willow Pillow*

                  This is where I land. How many times is the answer to a workplace issue “communicate more clearly”? That was the answer to the first part of question 1 today! I often don’t get hints – this is a common autism trait – and I don’t think I would have understood to do anything differently than LW.

                  This is not to say that LW did the right thing in hindsight, but the CEO’s initial response there wouldn’t have met my DEI needs either.

                2. Willow Pillow*

                  (oops, the letter I’m referring to is separate – “some of my employees have a butts-in-seats mentality … and some just disappear”)

              2. ferrina*

                There’s a difference between “inconvenient” and “exclusionary to practicing [RELIGION]”.

                I totally agree that the CEO is a jerk, likely a hypocrite, and definitely doing a political flex. But that doesn’t change the fact that an invitee flagged that a one-time event was exclusionary to a certain religion. When that happens, you move the event. It’s just the right thing to do for so many reasons. Imagine if you were a minority employee and you saw LW refuse this from the CEO- you’d be really hesitant to raise DEI concerns in the future.

                The CEO was probably trying to make LW look bad. And unfortunately, he succeeded.

                1. idontplaygames*

                  Completely agreed. It really doesn’t matter what the CEO’s intentions are (though he sounds like a jerk). The event is on a major Jewish holiday. Move the event. It’s that simple.

              3. Observer*

                It seems that the whole team affected said “actually this date is OK”, and the DEI office basically said “if the team says it’s OK, go for it”.

                I don’t see that at all and I’ve gone back to the letter to see if I’m missing something. I don’t see it, so please tell me what you are basing this on.

                OPs descriptions of the CEO not agreeing that DEI is something to work on and them getting angry in meetings about DEI immediately made me think that the CEO is using Rosh Hashanah as an excuse to pretend they ‘care’ about DEI while getting to be angry at someone who is a champion of said DEI, so they get to say that LW is a total hypocrite.

                You could be right. But there is another plausible way to look at it – that the CEO actually thinks that the OP is a hypocrite and / or DEI is being practiced selectively. And here is the proof. The CEO (in private) alerted the OP to a potential DEI issue and the OP just blew it off.

                Here is the thing – the OP shows absolutely no understanding or care about the issue. The CEO called it out, then threw a fit about it. And you STILL can’t spend 5 minutes to find out that this actually is a bit of an issue?

                It’s good that they are writing to Alison. But they are asking the wrong question. The question they should have been asking was not “Is this a big deal?” By now they should have realized that it IS a big deal. The questions they should have been asking are “I know I messed up. How do I recover with other staff?”, “I realize that I didn’t handle this well. But was the CEO behaving reasonably?”, and / or “I messed this one up, but I don’t want the CEO to use this to derail DEI efforts here. How do keep things on track?”

                1. Myrin*

                  Re: your first point, I think KRM bases their interpretation on this part:

                  “I then sent around a goodbye happy hour invitation to all staff from my team and the other team involved. […] I checked in with our interim DEI director, who saw no problem with me going ahead with that date, and I emailed back to all staff […] commenting that it was the only time that worked for the relevant teams”

                  I’m not sure I would necessarily interpret that as the DEI director basing their OK on the teams’ approval (could be, but it didn’t seem that way to me personally) but I do agree that it seems like both affected teams preferred the date in question (OP sent out the invitation from both teams, as in, speaking for them, with “the only [date] that worked for [both]”).

                  I’m not KRM, though, obviously, so I’m only speculating!

              4. Gan Ainm*

                This was my read as well. At my company we will do going away drinks with the person’s core team, and anyone else can join if they like. We would only coordinate the date with the core team, and to everyone else it’s “here’s the date, time and location, feel free to join if you like!” If someone outside the core team said FYI it’s a conflict with a key holiday of any religion I’d probably do what the OP did – double check with the core team and then if they confirm, move forward. It’s an outside of work event without work $, and the key folks approve the date, and the ceo didn’t say it was an issue for him, he just said “fyi”.

                1. Jennifer Strange*

                  and the ceo didn’t say it was an issue for him, he just said “fyi”.

                  I mean if someone said “FYI, you scheduled this on the same day as [religious holiday]” I wouldn’t just think to myself “Oh wow! What a fun fact!” I’d assume that was an issue.

                2. Haley*

                  I respectfully disagree with your approach. Rosh Hashana is one of those holidays that you just should never schedule anything on – it’s one of the high holidays. I would feel mortified if I received an e-mail like “the event is on Rosh Hashana, does anyone care??” making ME the bad guy if I say actually yes

                3. Lea*

                  This is how I’m reading it too, it worked for the immediately involved teams, and everybody else was just invited as courtesy.

                  If no one on those teams is Jewish, It’s not so bad.

                  My team I would not worry about Jewish holidays but would double check on Hindu ones because of the makeup of the team

                4. idontplaygames*

                  I have to disagree here. Take Christmas, for example. I don’t know the religions of any of my co-workers, but say I live under a rock and I accidentally schedule a going away happy hour for someone on Christmas. Someone alerts me to this fact, and then my next move is to move the event… not ask, “Hey, y’all. What do you think?” and put people in the uncomfortable position of having to say no.

                  I know Christmas is a different animal in the U.S. because of all the cultural implications, but this holiday is essentially the same in importance to Judaism at Christmas is to Christianity. What’s the harm in just proactively finding a new date?

              5. tamarack and fireweed*

                True, but still, as soon as someone complains about something being scheduled on Rosh Hashanah the *only* think one should be doing is reschedule immediately. Even if everyone when asked beforehand said it’s ok.

                The CEO is weaponizing Rosh Hashanah, and I’m sure a rabbi might have something critical to say about that, but it’s still right that no party should be scheduled on a major religious holiday in case people want to take it off. It’s not just a convenience question in this company, but also a matter of the moral high ground, and from another perspective, a matter of precedents.

                (Eg. if people, Jewish or not, are genuinely fine with having good-bye happy hour on Rosh Hashanah, and the day is used for normal scheduling, it discourages future Jewish co-workers from taking it off. As opposed to having the day marked as off-limits because it’s acknowledged that some may want to take it off. That’s especially relevant if the observant person who may want to take it off is the most junior new employee.)

              6. Ellie*

                This is my take as well. Goodbye parties happen all the time, and are almost always done on the person’s last day, or the day before their last day. I’ve never consulted anyone except the person who’s leaving and their immediate team/friends when scheduling one. Its not like an important all-hands, or compulsory training, or even a networking event.

                Having said that, if the CEO said to choose another date, I’d have chosen another date (while grumbling about it under my breath). The CEO is being unreasonable, but you provoked him on what’s obviously a sore spot.

            3. Observer*

              But if the original date works for everyone except the CEO

              You don’t know that it works for everyone else. The OP does not indicate that they bothered to check with anyone.

              I can tell you that I know a lot of people who would never say anything – they just wouldn’t show up and possibly make an excuse. Even people who have bigger mouths might hesitate to say anything – I know I would.

              1. acmx*

                but commenting that it was the only time that worked for the relevant teams and that we’d be happy to set something else up if folks wanted an alternative.

                Again, the CEO is Jewish and does not allow Jewish people to have their holidays off; they must use PTO. He’s not really insulted that there’s an optional event planned on his holiday. It’s a happy hour for someone quitting the company. It’s really an unimportant event.

                Maybe the OP is a hypocrite but the CEO is absolutely the biggest hypocrite in this letter.

                1. Avril Ludgateaux*

                  Maybe the OP is a hypocrite but the CEO is absolutely the biggest hypocrite in this letter.

                  And yet, if the OP values DEI, it’s them looking bad for so quickly dropping their values to stick it to the CEO. If the CEO is a hypocrite, the OP wins by not being one, not by stooping to the CEO’s level.

                2. Jennifer Strange*

                  Again, the CEO is Jewish and does not allow Jewish people to have their holidays off; they must use PTO.

                  He’s the CEO of a non-profit, meaning there is a Board he answers to. It’s very possible he has to get approval from them.

                3. OyHiOh*

                  In a non profit, very often the board of directors has final say over the holidays schedule.

                  If DEI/EDI is being done well, efforts should include board education, but this organization sounds sloppy in that regard.

                  At my previous organization, we followed the US federal holidays schedule. We could also swap any federal holiday on our schedule for a religious/other holiday of choice. I swapped President’s day for Passover, for example. At my current organization, we have one (ONE!!!!) floating holiday for the entire year. I still will end up using PTO for the Jewish biggies.

                  But the CEO/ED probably can’t just change the holiday schedule without going to his board and getting their approval and for whatever reason he feels he can’t or that the optics “look bad, asking for more time off.”

              2. starfox*

                OP literally checked with every relevant person… like I’m not defending scheduling it on the holiday, but it’s obvious that they did check and found that not only did it work for all the teams, it was the ONLY day that worked for everyone. Sounds like it was either “have it on this date” or “don’t have it at all.”

                To be fair, cancelling the whole thing because it falls on a holiday might actually be the correct answer, so again, not defending the choice.

                1. Jennifer Strange*

                  Actually, OP only says they checked with the Interim DEI , they just say they sent out the invitation to everyone else.

                2. Nephron*

                  The question is if a Jewish employee is going to raise the issue or not. If there is a Jewish member of this team and the date of a major holiday was suggested, rather than a everyone picks what works and we pick the overlap, that employee might just assume OP would not care. There are a number of stories in this thread of Jewish people and other religious minorities picking their battles and saving the energy for more important work events makes sense.

                  For major Christian holidays, they would be blocked off as something a person could even pick.

            4. Sarah with an H*

              I was struggling with this question too and it finally clicked for me in a comment further down (something along the lines of “doing what is right isn’t always convenient”). I think it’s less about this specific situation and more about a dedication to DEI in general. If OP 1 had moved the event citing that she had mistakenly scheduled on an important religious holiday, that helps to create a greater culture of inclusion. Employees may subsequently feel more empowered and supported to speak up when scheduling conflicts occur, and be more mindful of potential conflicts when scheduling events.

        2. Green great dragon*

          They offered a different date for the CEO to say goodbye but they (with the D&I director’s input) decided to stick to the original date for the happy hour.

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              Agreed, this was handled…pretty badly by all parties but the DEI sensitivity is really where it’s falling short.

          1. I'm just here for the cats*

            But the OP did contact others ” I emailed back to all staff, apologizing for any implication that I didn’t want to include people, but commenting that it was the only time that worked for the relevant teams and that we’d be happy to set something else up if folks wanted an alternative.”

            So It sounds like the OP did try and make an effort. The only thing that I think could have been better is maybe have something during work instead of after hours.

            I think the OP made a slight error, was not trying to be harmful to anyone and did the best they could and the CEO tried to weaponize the mistake showing See your not following DEI either.

            1. Observer*

              You call that making an effort to accommodate?

              Let’s be clear here. The OP made it clear that they were NOT going to move the date. But if you feel bad about it we’ll try to come up with an “alternative”.

              Of course no one responded!

              was not trying to be harmful to anyone and did the best they could and the CEO tried to weaponize the mistake showing See your not following DEI either.

              If the OP is serious about DEI, the “not trying to be harmful” is not the rubric to be using. In fact, it’s generally not the rubric to use for anyone who is actually trying to be reasonably respectful. See the meme about stepping on people’s toes.

              If this is the best they can do, then they have no business trying to take on the mantle of DEI champion. The CEO weaponized it because the OP handed them a HUGE opportunity.

              At this point, I’m betting that every Jewish employee there knows that their concerns are not going to be handled well, so they probably need to save their political capital for the big stuff.

              1. Anonymoose*

                “it was the only time that worked for the relevant teams”

                Pretty clear the OP couldn’t just move it to a new date, so I’m not sure what you are suggesting they do

                1. ShanShan*

                  We just don’t believe that’s true.

                  I’ve heard that line so many times before, and it inevitably means “moving it to a different time sounds hard and I don’t wanna do it.”

                  There are so many companies that say they’re committed to DEI but give up the first time it becomes slightly inconvenient.

                2. Jennifer Strange*

                  I mean, the OP says “And had our CEO in his initial email told me that I needed to reschedule the event, I would have tried to do that.” so clearly rescheduling was in the realm of possibility.

                3. Ellie*

                  I can believe that it couldn’t be moved to a different date. It’s a goodbye party – if the person who’s leaving gave a standard 2 weeks notice, and we’re already several days into it, there are likely not many options. This isn’t really a work function in any proper sense, its out of hours, its not funded, and there’s no benefit to going except to farewell a coworker.

                  I don’t agree that cancelling is the right thing to do either, unless the person who’s leaving observes the holiday themselves. If the party was cancelled, and instead the coworker sent out an email saying, ‘for anyone who wishes to say farewell, I’ll be at the X pub on the corner of Y on Friday for after work drinks’, would that be OK? This isn’t really a work event, its just an event that’s been organised in honor of a coworker. I really think the CEO is awful, and OP is pretty blameless here, if they really did try to find an alternative.

              2. starfox*

                The options are cancel it or have it on that day. Which, sure, maybe the right choice is to totally cancel it, but that’s a really hard call to make.

                1. Jennifer Strange*

                  Or reschedule it? The OP even says they would have tried to do that had the CEO specifically asked them to, so it’s clearly an option.

            2. Erie*

              I’m with Observer on this, who is making some great points throughout this thread. This is a classic “paying lip service to DEI and then doing whatever you want” response. It’s a sufficient response when someone emails to say “three of us have a meeting during this time, can this be moved?” It is not appropriate when religion is involved or when the CEO is the one making the request.

              LW should apologize personally to the CEO (who was being petty with that mass email, but you gotta smooth things over with someone at that level) and reschedule the event.

          2. Yorick*

            You kinda have to reschedule the event if the CEO can’t go because it’s a religious holiday. You can maybe give an alternate time to say goodbye to someone less important.

        3. yala*

          They apologized, and offered a date when the CEO could go say goodbye, but not attend the party that everyone else had. They should have tried to reschedule, and if it became clear they couldn’t they should have let the CEO know in advance (because he may have still found that unacceptable, but also he is the CEO, so…)

          ‘Also please note that the CEO’s mail was worded “FYI it’s a religious holiday”, not “you cannot do that because it’s a religious holiday I/other people observe”’

          That really seems like splitting hairs, though. It’s not just a religious holiday–its a VERY important religious holiday. It seems unlikely that a CEO would just be pointing it out as a fun fact.

          1. Anonymoose*

            Well, they did exactly that – “commenting that it was the only time that worked for the relevant teams” – it sounds pretty clear that rescheduling wouldn’t have been possible. They also offered an extra date for the CEO and anybody that couldn’t make the original date work.

            1. Jennifer Strange*

              it sounds pretty clear that rescheduling wouldn’t have been possible.

              Except the OP specifically says “had our CEO in his initial email told me that I needed to reschedule the event, I would have tried to do that.”

              1. DisgruntledPelican*

                Since they also said it was the only date that worked for everyone, you can infer “and rescheduled for a date that didn’t work for everyone” is really the end of that “I would have tried” thought.

                1. yala*

                  Except that it already *didn’t* work for everyone.

                  It not working for someone because they have to take their kid to soccer practice, and it not working for someone because it’s an incredibly important religious holiday are two very different things.

                2. Jennifer Strange*

                  Or I can infer that the it wasn’t the only date that worked for everyone, but since the OP got the greenlight from the interim DEI director they didn’t feel like putting too much effort into finding a new date.

            2. Lea*

              I would feel a lot different about this if it were a work event and not a happy hour.

              We have trouble scheduling around three people let alone an entire company.

          2. Haley*

            I’m not defending the CEO here because they sound like a huge – well, you know. But if I sent an e-mail to someone being like FYI that date is a Jewish holiday, I would expect it to be rescheduled… especially if I was the CEO! I’m not sharing that information for trivia!

            1. Salsa Verde*

              Honestly, “FYI that date is a Jewish holiday” would not equal: “so reschedule it” in my mind. The CEO sounds like he doesn’t have a problem being direct, so if he wanted it rescheduled, I feel like he could have made that more clear. Especially when the OP made it clear she didn’t realize that’s what he meant, when she suggested other times for him to say goodbye to the employee.
              Maybe it’s the “FYI” part, but if that is exactly what he said, it almost sounds like an aside.

              1. Jennifer Strange*

                But what other reason would he have for saying it? At the very least the OP should have followed up and clarified. It seems odd to treat it like a fun fact he’s sharing with her.

                1. Lydia*

                  I think one of the reasons for this specific CEO to say it was to make the OP look bad in light of being called out on his shitty DEI efforts having been called out. I don’t think him bringing it up was a sincere request for the OP to consider the date and reschedule.

                2. Jennifer Strange*

                  I think one of the reasons for this specific CEO to say it was to make the OP look bad in light of being called out on his shitty DEI efforts having been called out.

                  If that were the case why would he initially point it out to her in a private email so that she could fix the mistake? If he wanted to make her look bad why not call her out in front of everyone first? And even if that was his intent, it doesn’t matter because if OP truly wants to push DEI at the company she needs to take these things into consideration.

                3. Salsa Verde*

                  I feel like she did follow up though, when she emailed him to apologize. He could have then said, oh, you misunderstood, when I told you that I meant that you need to reschedule.

              2. Yorick*

                Really? It’s not like he replied with, “That’s national talk like a pirate day! Arrgh!” He’s obviously pointing out that the event should be rescheduled.

              3. yala*

                It’s not just *a* Jewish holiday, though. It’s the MOST IMPORTANT Jewish holiday. Instead of offering alternative times (which would not be the appropriate response anyway), OP should have at least asked if he felt that it should be rescheduled.

                Maybe he was trying for a “gotcha.” Maybe it was insincere. But it still very much highlights the DEI issues–someone pointed out that an event was scheduled for the most important Jewish holiday, and essentially got a shrug in response.

        4. Observer*

          they apologized profusely and offered a different date

          No, they apologized but then they offered a different date for THE CEO ALONE to “say goodbye”.

          checked it with the relevant person and all the staff

          It doesn’t say that anywhere – they only mention that they checked with the DEI director who doesn’t see a problem with excluding the CEO.

          That’s the other point here – since when is the CEO *not* “relevant” to an event that he expects to attend? And did anyone check if anyone on the relevant teams is Jewish, but doesn’t want to say anything?

          What on earth could they have done differently?

          For one thing, they could have done what you CLAIM they did – but for which we have zero evidence. The OP only tells us that they checked with the DEI director, and emailed – no mention at all of attempting to schedule a different date.

          And when someone (especially your CEO) tells you “FYI this is happening on Holiday X” it stand to reason that you actually check it out. Because there is NOTHING vague about what the CEO said. Would you consider it “vague” if someone emailed “FYI this is happening on Christmas day” or even (in London in the last week) “FYI this is happening on the day of the late Queen’s funeral”?

          and it is pretty obvious why the leaving employee had problems with the DEI.?

          Yes, it is – and it’s not just a bad CEO. It’s a DEI department and advocate that has a selective understanding of DEI.

        5. DataSci*

          It may not be easy to find “a date that fits all”, but if they didn’t check major religious holidays, they didn’t even try. And frankly scheduling atop a major religious holiday is a worse look than “Well Fergus is off that day so that doesn’t work”, even if it’s just one person missing out either way.

        6. My+Useless+2+Cents*

          I lean toward Despachito’s reading of the letter. There is a major problem with ignoring non-Christian holiday’s in this country. But in this instance the CEO is weaponizing the issue because the leaving employee called him out at the staff meeting.

          The email response would more likely be from someone with little/no power to push the issue up the ladder. If the CEO was truly offended, the DEI director and LW (and probably LW’s manager if she has one) would have been called into a closed door meeting because the CEO has the power to call a closed door meeting. I would be willing to bet that CEO doesn’t really care what date the after hours goodbye get together was on because they never had any intention on attending anyway. This was only about CEO proving they are the big dog on campus and you don’t mess with the big dog.

          1. Le Sigh*

            The CEO handled this poorly and I think the CEO, at least based on OP’s description, was looking to pick a fight.

            But OP’s own defense gives me a lot of pause and I think they need to interrogate some of their assumptions. They cited as justification–twice–that they don’t get these days off/they’re not legal holidays, as if that’s a point in their column. Well, yeah, in the US, we historically haven’t been real great about accommodating non-Christian religious requirements/holidays/needs. Whether something is a legal holiday or not, to run an inclusive office, you need to proactively be aware of those holidays and keep that in mind. Pointing out it’s not a legal holiday is not a justification.

            I’m an atheist, my office doesn’t offer any holidays other than the standard federal holidays — but all of our calendars mark holidays like Eid, Rosh hashanah, etc. and we take that into account both for internal planning, and when reaching out to clients.

            1. Eyes Kiwami*

              I agree but I do think OP has a stronger point that if the CEO actually cared about Rosh Hashanah then he could give employees the day off. He seems to only care about the holiday insofar as he can weaponize it to make someone else look bigoted to distract from his own failings.

      3. Sloanicota*

        It’s crappy that Jewish employees have to use vacation days for religious holidays. Everywhere I’ve worked the org has at least offered some “floating days” so you could choose to work on Columbus Day or Presidents Day or Juneteenth if you want a different religious day off. Even small orgs have done this. The CEO could easily implement something like this if he wanted … a lot more easily than OP could!

        1. TPS Reporter*

          right? he is THE CEO. Couldn’t he make these days PTO and ask DEI to give people information about Rosh Hashanah/why it’s important. If these days are not PTO wouldn’t that kind of indicate to those unfamiliar/not practicing that the CEO is not deeming them to be important enough to have a day off? And if the day is still a work day then after work events make sense.

          1. Le Sigh*

            CEO of a nonprofit — which means he probably has a board to report to. Not saying it can’t happen nor that the CEO’s hands are totally tied, but being CEO at a nonprofit isn’t cart blanche to make the rules, either.

        2. doreen*

          I’m going to ask because I’ve seen this mentioned before – what is the actual difference between using vacation days and personal days or floating holidays for religious holidays ? There’s a difference between having 10 vacation days vs. 10 vacation days plus 3 personal days plus two floating holidays – but I don’t see the difference between 10+3+2 and 15 vacation days. Either way, you can’t give additional days off to those who follow non-Christian religions ( which I have actually heard people advocate for).

          1. JayemGriffin*

            At least at my organization, vacation days roll over year to year, though you can’t carry more than X hours of vacation at a time. Personal holidays don’t roll over – you use them in the calendar year that you accrue them, or they just vanish on December 31st. There might also be differences in how/whether they’re paid out at termination, but I’m less familiar with that.

          2. Sloanicota*

            Well, I’m not trying to argue that it’s the best approach, but at least in my job, there’s two weeks PTO leave that you can use whenever you like (if you get prior approval sigh) and then there’s designated holidays that the whole office knows in advance. There’s actually a lot of these, I think ten a year, but they’re a separate pot of leave that doesn’t affect your PTO leave. If you don’t allow floating holidays, this means that everybody has to have Christmas off, but Jewish workers then have to use their limited PTO hours to take Rosh Hashanah. If you let the holiday leave days float, a Jewish employee can chose to work remotely on Christmas (or Presidents day, or Columbus day, whatever days are least meaningful to them) and still have their two weeks of vacation.

          3. Texan in exile on her phone*

            Why can’t you give extra days off for other religions? Christians don’t have to use PTO for Christmas. Why should Jews have to use vacation days for their holidays?

            1. doreen*

              Because as far as I know it’s discriminatory to give people different amounts of paid time off based on their religion

              1. Lydia*

                You could, however, make it so that people who don’t observe Holiday X can work and if they observe Y Holiday, take that time off instead while non-observers work. A truly DEI-conscious workplace is going to have to make accommodations that may create some extra work in the planning, but will ultimately attract people and create satisfied employees in the long run.

                And just to add, the CEO is absolutely weaponizing this holiday. He’s pissed about being called out for DEI failures and is trying to project that on to the OP. It’s nice that people want to give him the benefit of the doubt, but it’s seems clear this hadn’t come up previously with other events and now it’s very important to him.

                1. Jennifer Strange*

                  but it’s seems clear this hadn’t come up previously with other events and now it’s very important to him.

                  Where does that seem clear?

                2. doreen*

                  That works with some workplaces and some jobs – but there are lots of situations where it doesn’t make sense to have just one or even a few employees working on Holiday X.

                3. Lydia*

                  @Jennifer It was sarcasm. The CEO is not being entirely sincere in his desire to point out this date doesn’t work for everyone. He is using the religious holiday as a cudgel to prove the OP (and the intern who called him out) were hypocritical.

                  @doreen Then don’t require people who don’t practice certain holidays to take vacation to observe the holidays they do practice. It is doable and defaulting to having Christian holidays as part of the ones you’re paid for and get the day off is a form of discrimination. “Not practical” is a bit of an excuse to not do something that would be inconvenient, but not disastrous.

                4. Jennifer Strange*

                  @Lydia You don’t know that, though, you’re just projecting that. And even if that were the case, the OP had a chance to lead by example and they didn’t.

                  It is doable and defaulting to having Christian holidays as part of the ones you’re paid for and get the day off is a form of discrimination.

                  Just want to point out that having Christmas off (which is the only Christian holiday I’ve ever seen given off to folks) is because it’s a federal holiday in the US. Don’t blame businesses for the fact that our government makes it clear they value Christians above all other religions.

                5. Lydia*

                  @Jennifer That’s a systemic issue. The business can do whatever the hell it wants; it’s not mandated to give federal holidays off, otherwise nobody would work on Indigenous People’s Day, Veteran’s Day, etc. There are more holidays recognized by the federal government than recognized by businesses at large.

            2. Calliope*

              Because you can’t give people better benefits based on their religion obviously. It’s weird that Christians are always the example here because many observant Christians do tend to take additional days off for Good Friday or whatnot. The people who benefit from not having religious obligations are atheists like me (or non-observant members of whatever religion) and not clear to me that we shouldn’t get time off that our religious coworkers do get.

              I’m all for floating holidays and extra PTO though.

            3. Some Dude*

              Yeah it seems like the practice should be you get x number of non-federal religious holidays off for a year, and x days are considered religious holidays so that no major events or meetings are scheduled on them, and then folks can take off the holidays they care about and work the ones they don’t. And if you are an athiest you get some extra days off to think about why you don’t believe in anything. I would love to have a set number of days in the calendar be off limits so I knew not to schedule stuff on those days and force people to be like, fyi that is the most important religious holiday for my faith.

          4. SpaceySteph*

            I’m Jewish and honestly I don’t see much difference. If a holiday is a floating holiday then its basically just more PTO, because its a flexible day off to be used as you wish. Jews will be able to use it for Rosh Hashana but Christians will be able to use it for a random day off because their holidays are already covered, so really its the same as before.

            The only thing that helps is having an actual holiday because then its a day where nobody expects work to be done, meetings aren’t scheduled, etc. Otherwise it doesn’t really matter what bucket the time off comes from, you’re still coming back to a mountain of unread emails because it was a work day for everyone else.

          5. Yorick*

            We have a certain amount of vacation days PLUS a floating holiday that you can use whenever. The floating holidays allow you to take time off for a holiday that isn’t a recognized holiday with its own time off.

            1. Lydia*

              That’s not really enough, though, because if Christian holidays are covered, then Christians get their religious days automatically off AND floating holidays to use as they see fit. Practicing Jewish or Muslim people would probably prefer to work in some form on the days they don’t care about (Christmas, Good Friday), and receive their religious days off instead and, like Christians, also get the floating holidays to use as they wish. It wouldn’t actually be that difficult to implement a system that allowed people to recognize the days they wanted and work on something the days they don’t.

              1. doreen*

                There really isn’t any way around it in a lot of jobs – I’m sure a Muslim truckdriver would be happy to work on Christmas/Labor Day/July 4 off so he doesn’t have to use vacation time for Muslim holidays but if the customers he will be delivering to are closed on those days, that won’t work. And the Jewish retail manager can’t choose to work on Christmas if the store she works at is closed . There are lots of jobs where non-Christians could work on holidays they don’t care about and take off their holidays without using vacation time, and I am completely in favor of it when it’s possible but there are also lots of jobs where it isn’t possible – and in those cases, you still can’t give people different amounts of time off based on their religion and how observant they are. And BTW – it isn’t always Christian holidays , plural. The only paid religious holiday I’ve ever had in my working life is Christmas. If I want Good Friday or Ash Wednesday off, I have always had to use vacation time.

              2. doreen*

                Sorry, I didn’t mean every Muslim employee would, just that a particular one might – because a lot of people would rather choose their days off rather than be off when the employer chooses to close.

          6. Koalafied*

            Floating holidays are somewhat more limited than general PTO. In some orgs what it actually means is “you can work on up to X company holidays in order to take to same number of holidays the company does not observe off.”

            In those places and the ones where they’re additional days, they often can only be taken as single days or two consecutive days, the way other holidays work – you couldn’t take them as a Friday and Monday, or tack all 3 onto a 2-week vacation to make it longer.

      4. The OTHER other*

        On the other hand, I am wondering why this CEO is so up in arms about something happening on this holiday yet no one gets the holiday off, anyone who wants to take it off must use vacation time. It sounds to me like a very selective outrage.

        1. Observer*

          The CEO may not actually have the power to make that change without the Board, and the Board may have not unreasonable reasons for not providing those days off.

          I’m in NYC, which has one of the largest concentrations of practicing Jews in the world. Almost nothing closes on the Rosh Hashana. Most government agencies do NOT provide “floating says” for people to take religious holidays. If you work for a government agency, you need to use your leave bank for the Holidays. And that’s true for most private employers, too. The main exceptions are businesses that are actually owned an operated by practicing Jews and non-profits that are officially Jewish – and even there the pressures can be surprisingly hard to deal with.

          So, the CEO may not love that he needs to take a personal day for Rosh Hashana, but at least that option is there. For a one time event, you lose that. So, yes, it’s much worse.

          1. Amy*

            Well, NYC public schools are closed for 2 days for Rosh Hashanah and 1 for Yom Kippur. (So next week and then in 2 weeks) And with almost 1 million students, it’s a pretty big deal.

            1. doreen*

              The public schools close – but historically, teachers in NYC public schools have been disproportionally Jewish ( I think a majority of the teachers were Jewish until sometime in the 1960s). That might not be the the case anymore- but there’s also no reason to open on Jewish holidays or Muslim holidays or the Lunar New Year when school is only in session for 180 days and closing schools for those holidays just involves moving days off. Neither of those are true for most government agencies – it’s not like the DMV is only open 180 days a year so closing for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur would just involve opening on two other days.

            2. GS*

              And almost nothing else in NYC closes… This happens for many major holidays of various groups that aren’t Christian.

            3. Observer*

              Well, NYC public schools are closed for 2 days for Rosh Hashanah and 1 for Yom Kippur.

              Yes, that’s the one major exception. Nothing else closes, though.

                1. Amy*

                  There are 14 observed government holidays in NYC. One is Christmas. The rest are days like Juneteenth and Labor Day. Easter Monday and Good Friday are not there either.

                  To say that nothing is closed on Rosh Hashana just doesn’t seem like something a parent would say. Schools are closed, some offices are closed, some stores are closed. “Nothing” is too strong a word.

        2. Polly*

          Agree. Apparently I’m in the minority here, but I tend to assume if it’s not a day we’re scheduled off as a holiday, it’s an OK day to schedule something. I’m a little surprised at how many comments are raking OP1 over the coals.

          1. RussianInTexas*

            I am the same. I would not occur to me that a day that is not a company holiday is off limit for anything else, because I don’t celebrate any religious holidays (I am an atheistic Jew).
            I also never had any floating days to take as I please for any reasons, religious or otherwise.
            My old job had floating holidays that THEY scheduled, to extend the existing holidays, for example if the Independence Day falls on a Tuesday, they would give us Monday off. My current job has vacation days and five paid holidays total (not even Memorial Day or the day after the Thanksgiving), and they would laugh you out of the room if you ask for a floating to celebrate Yom Kippur, for example.
            I would reschedule if someone mentioned there is a conflict. But I wouldn’t know beforehand.

            1. RussianInTexas*

              It’s a small (about ), family owned company that does not even has HR department, DEI anything would not even be on a radar.

            2. Irish Teacher*

              I think a certain amount is the context. Both the fact that the CEO mentioned it and it wasn’t changed AND the fact that DEI issues were already raised, so you would expect everybody to be being particularly sensitive to any potential exclusions.

              I mean, the CEO seems like a hypocrite all round, “meh, DEI issues aren’t a big deal…unless it’s my religion that is being ignored and even then, I’m not closing the company for our holidays (assuming he has the power to do this),” but I still think he raised a valid point here, albeit in an obnoxious way and the date probably should have been changed.

            3. Coyote Tango*

              > I am the same. I would not occur to me that a day that is not a company holiday is off limit for anything else, because I don’t celebrate any religious holidays (I am an atheistic Jew).

              Absent of other context clues, I would be the same. But when my boss emails me with an “FYI, this is a holiday for X” I assume he’s telling me for a reason and not because he’s hoping to help me win at trivial pursuit.

              1. DisgruntledPelican*

                That reason could just be – FYI, that’s Rosh Hashana so make sure that’s not going to be an issue with anyone on the teams.

                But that’s why I prefer directness. If you want a specific action to be taken, say that. Don’t hope people guess correctly.

                1. ShanShan*

                  Please don’t make it the Jewish CEO’s fault that their DEI director apparently has no idea what Rosh Hashanah is or how to handle it at work.

                  Knowing this without needing someone to spell it out is literally the job the DEI director gets paid to do. You know who doesn’t get paid to do that job? The CEO.

          2. ChubbyBunny*

            The problem is, in most places, minority holidays (even very important ones) are rarely scheduled off as a holiday – those tend to be reserved for just Christmas and sometimes Easter. So those people have to just take those days off regardless and it can be an issue when, for example, school pictures or the homecoming dance etc. are scheduled on Jewish holidays. After a lifetime of these sorts of issues, many Jewish people end up kind of salty about it! (speaking from experience)

            1. Naomi*

              Yeah, I was going to say: OP presented “Jewish people would have to use a vacation day to get that day off” as if it were a mitigating factor. It’s not; it’s another DEI issue the company should be addressing.

              1. anonsalesrep*

                Right, that in combination with the “DEI says it’s nbd,” is just amplifying how much OP thinks accommodating Jewish employees is a non-issue.

            2. Hannah Lee*

              Here’s an example that’s not a employer/employee one, but that highlights how not taking into consideration the culturally significant dates of your stakeholders can have unintended consequences and weaken your position.

              Wales has culturally significant day in September, Owain Glyndŵr Day on September 16th. There’s a parade, and other events to celebrate the last native Prince of Wales and founder of the first Welsh Parliament, and a man who stood up against the English monarchy.

              As part of the events marking the death of Queen Elizabeth this month, the British Royal Family planned trips, appearances in all of the countries of the UK, including Wales. King Charles, until recently the Prince of Wales (meaning it’s presumed he’d have some connection, understand of Welsh history, culture, significant holidays) scheduled an appearance in Wales. But it was scheduled on September 16th and caused cancellation of the annual parade and other events marking Owain Glyndŵr Day.
              Some Welsh people, already not thrilled with being ruled by English Queen and now King, and not thrilled with having a non-Welsh Prince of Wales (now Prince William) named, were doubly annoyed that neither King Charles nor anyone one on the royal staff thought there was any issue for plunking the visit on the day of a significant Welsh celebration day. (and BTW, causing the Welsh parade to be cancelled, while causing Wales to fund a parade, even for King Charles)

              And making that decision, misstep right at a time when the long term Queen’s reign has just ended and the crown no longer has the sentiment towards her to make the tradition of British rule more acceptable, after hundreds of years of slights under the Kings and Queens and Princes of Wales from England, at a time when the new King should have been trying to demonstrate understanding and outreach to his new subjects, was an unforced error that could have been avoided by some courtier (or the King himself) looking at a calendar. The day of Charles’ visit, his events were featured in the press, SM. But so were criticisms of the timing of the visit, discussions of Welsh history, arguments for why it’s time for Wales to throw of the rule of the Windsors … which I don’t think was the hoped for outcome from that visit.

              Companies, organizations not considering what’s important/significant to their employees, customers, stakeholders ( holidays, symbols, traditions, etc) and just merrily scheduling important events that are in conflict are a) being lousy leaders and b) undermining their own position with those groups.

          3. Leenie*

            To me it’s ok that she didn’t know. But once she was told, doubling down was the wrong thing to do. She doesn’t like the CEO, and it sounds like there’s good reason for that. But there’s no good reason to not just move the meeting once she was told. Instead she put all of her efforts into finding reasons not to do that.

          4. onetwothreefour*

            But even after the CEO raised the issue? I think that’s what would have tipped people off. No, the CEO didn’t explicitly say, “change the date,” but especially coming from the CEO, I think an”FYI” email indicates that it should be changed (or at least discussed further with the CEO).

          5. Sasha*

            I think it was fine to schedule it then, but not fine to refuse to move it when somebody objected.

            Same as it would be totally fine to book a BBQ place for a team dinner, but a bit of a dick move not to rebook somewhere else when the vegetarian coworker points out there is literally nothing they can eat there. I mean, it isn’t Liver Boss territory, but it definitely has a “screw you, nobody cares if you can attend or not” vibe.

          6. Malarkey01*

            From my experience if it’s a day we work most people are comfortable scheduling typical meetings knowing that some people may be out. Scheduling larger, more important meetings would be out and scheduling anything after hours would be a hard no. They are a lot of religions that may work on holy days but use the evenings for religious observation because they’ve adapted to work schedules.

        3. c buggy*

          I mean, I’m assuming this happy hour is in the evening, right after work hours. That makes it even worse because it creates a conflict not only for people who use PTO to take the day off but also for anyone who planned to go to work that day but then celebrate with family after work.

          1. SpaceySteph*

            Yeah I started a new job this summer so can only afford a half day off for Rosh Hashana this year due to low PTO balance. I plan to go to the morning service and then work for a few hours in the afternoon, but then we are having a festival dinner in the evening so I’m not available after work hours just because I’m working from 1-5.

      5. Lea*

        Yeah I definitely think they should have asked the ceo if they wanted to attend and rescheduled if so.

        But it also kind of depends on how many Jewish employees you have. We have travel scheduled on that date but none of us are Jewish or noted this in the planning stages at least. I did feel kind of bad we scheduled another meeting partly on a semi major Christian holiday…I am Christian but don’t really do anything on that day generally so didn’t think of it.

    2. Nurse Shelagh Turner*

      Yes and it is bizarre that an interim DEI director would okay moving forward with that date. It seems that the departing colleague is on to something when they mention DEI as a concern.

        1. Shana Tova*

          At one company I worked at, our boss announced he was leaving at a meeting held on Yom Kippur. No one informed the 2 of us who were out observing Yom Kippur in advance, so we were blindsided by this news when it was casually referenced during the next day’s stand-up.
          They scheduled a follow-up meeting about this situation that fell on the first days of Sukkot, which I also missed because I take those off.
          Was this egregiously terrible? Maybe not. Did it feel like a lot of unnecessary microagression? Absolutely.
          Anyway, for the past 2.5 years, I have worked much more happily at a Jewish day school.

          1. L-squared*

            I mean, this seems like you were taking something personal that clearly wasn’t. If he announced it to everyone at a meeting the day before, they were probably blindsided as well.

            Announcing departures aren’t going to always be convenient for everyone, he did it when it was convenient for him.

            1. Happy meal with extra happy*

              But the point is that they’re scheduling meetings on these days in the first place.

            2. to+varying+degrees*

              But there’s a big difference in people missing something because one of their kid’s has a soccer game or they have daycare issues and people missing because of a significant religious holiday.

              1. ferrina*

                Yuuuup. When things “happen” to just be inconvenient to one particular religion or cultural/ethnic group, that’s a form of discrimination. The goal is that it should be equally inconvenient to everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, sex, or gender.

              2. Zweisatz*

                and also nobody informed them about the news proactively. With stuff this important I would expect the team lead AT LEAST to reach out to them proactively and let them know what they missed.

                1. Allonge*

                  This!

                  When my boss announced that she was leaving last year, everyone who was reachable but not in that meeting knew this was happening within ~5 minutes (texted, chat, email – whatever was appropriate). People on holiday knew the same day! Or we could have started the standup with the highlights of the all staff / department meeting the next day. It’s not that difficult.

            3. Haley*

              Excuse me? Ideally you do not hold staff meetings on Yom Kippur, but if you do, and you have colleagues that miss important information due to the holiest holiday of their religion, you should be filling them in. Would you have a staff meeting on Easter and then not announce the information to staff who were out that day?

              1. Lea*

                You should be filing colleagues in who miss meetings for any reason!

                Truly people who refuse to follow up big information drops with an email annoy me so much. Even if it’s just a dentist appt you need better communication

        2. Lady_Lessa*

          +100

          I guess that Jews are considered white and are not discriminated against, even though anti Semitism is unfortunately rising.

        3. Smithy*

          I think a real challenge for the religious observance piece is that in most faiths, there’s a fairly wide range of observance. Just looking at calendars of Jewish/Muslim/Hindi/etc holidays won’t give you that full range of of cultural practice and experience.

          Speaking as a non-observant Jew in the US who takes off no Jewish holidays at work – taking off time for Thanksgiving is really important for me in regards to spending time with my family. Even family who observe Passover and High Holidays don’t take off significant time from work the way they do for Thanksgiving, so in a number of Jewish America homes, Thanksgiving can take on larger importance in terms of family togetherness.

          That’s just one wrinkle of Jewish American culture that most employer DEI teams aren’t typically staffed with enough people and bandwidth to be mindful of. As such, the weight does fall heavily on staff from those groups to explain those nuances – which (and very fairly) most staff will never feel comfortable doing.

          1. Clobberin’ Time*

            Wait – you’re saying DEI teams, whose entire job is diversity, equity, and inclusion, can’t be expected to figure out our respect for Jewish practices on their own because it’s not a simple issue; therefore it’s on Jewish employees to educate their DEI teams?

            Truly?

            1. Lydia*

              I think what Smithy is saying is that religious observation is being treated as a monolith in this thread and that if you attach significance to Jewish holidays to all Jewish employees, you will find yourself in a deep morass of trouble not unlike the trouble you will find yourself in if you don’t take any consideration at all. If Smithy’s boss approached them and said, “In the interest of you being Jewish, how would you like Yom Kippur off instead of Thanksgiving,” Smithy, who is non-practicing would say no because Yom Kippur does not hold the significance to them that Thanksgiving does. The point being that even DEI committees will need to take individuals wants and needs into account when trying to set policy.

          2. Grammar Penguin*

            Just to note, Thanksgiving is a US national holiday that commemorates a significant event in our own early colonial history. It’s not considered a religious holiday although it is an important time for many or even most US families. It’s celebrated by Americans of any religious faith including none. I don’t think there is any DEI issue related to it.

            (The name may imply a religious observance to some- give thanks to whom?- but it is certainly not associated with any particular religion. Its origin story is one of cross-cultural celebration between two vastly different cultures with completely different religions. While it can be interpreted as giving thanks to God, it was also about giving thanks to the people who helped the Pilgrims get through a terrible first year in the New World.)

            1. No Thanks in Advance*

              Thanksgiving definitely has DEI issues, as many indigenous Americans will attest. (Not all! Some? Many? celebrate it too). The phrasing “New World” does too.

            2. Lydia*

              It’s actually a holiday that severely white washes how indigenous people saved colonists from starving and then how the colonists helped strip the people of their land. The DEI issues around Thanksgiving are enormous and well-known.

          3. Lea*

            This can be true of Christian observance too.

            Stuff like Ash Wednesday/Good Friday are not usually leave days, and some Christian’s don’t have any official activities or have optional ones, but others like observant Catholics may want to be in church on those days, at least part time. Being flexible is important

            1. Irish Teacher*

              Just a random fun fact: Good Friday is not a public holiday in Ireland (I think it is in the UK?) but enough people have traditionally had plans/wanted it off that it’s…almost an unofficial holiday? Like a lot of workplaces close by choice and others finish up early. So quite frankly, you often don’t know what is likely to be open or closed. Until recently, it was also illegal to sell alcohol on that day (with a few exceptions that made it almost a national game to find a way to buy alcohol legally on that day, for example, hotels could sell to guests staying in the hotel but not to the general public and you could buy alcohol in train stations if you had a valid ticket for further than a particular distance). This was changed in 2018?

          4. SpaceySteph*

            I can take off for Thanksgiving because things at my office slow down, we get a paid holiday day, my kid has a week off school so I either need to find childcare or take the days off anyway, and relatives also have time off so we can all get together despite living across the US.

            I don’t travel for Rosh Hashana because none of those things are true. It’s not that its a less important holiday to me, its that the logistics are more difficult. In fact, I couldn’t give a flying fig about Thanksgiving (although I do love stuffing and cranberry sauce) but its when our collective culture has said “sure, take a long weekend.”

          5. Jewish librarian*

            Non-religious Christians or people from families that historically were Christian can expect to get Christmas and often other holidays off, even if they’re not going to mass or to do any other religious observance beyond opening presents and drinking eggnog or whatever. And if they do choose to work, they often get extra pay for their trouble.

            Why should Jews (or Muslims, or anyone else) have to prove they “deserve” their most important holidays off by performing observance of religion more than Christians do?

            This is what we mean when we say that Christian hegemony exists, that our society is structurally and systemically biased in favour of Christians and against anyone else.

            1. out of work for the first time in 40+ years*

              Agree. My former boss always, always asked me if I was going to services when I said I was going to take Rosh Hashanah and/or Yom Kippur off. He never asked any other employees–at the time, all Christians or Christian-raised–if they went to services, not even at Easter.

              Later, when we had a Muslim employee, he was the same with her. She left in part because of perceived hostility from other supervisors.

              My former employer consistently scheduling major meetings for Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur, including meetings which half the attendees would not be attending because of the holiday. For decades.

              At a certain point people simply stopped complaining, even to the DEI staff, because they got no consideration or even commiseration.

              My last employer added 4 “discretionary days” as extra PTO a few years ago, but there are years in which that would not be enough for an observant person, depending on when the Jewish holidays fall during a week.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      Accidentally scheduling it is pretty reasonable – people don’t necessarily carry around mental maps of holy days for religions they don’t practice, particularly if it’s not a stat holiday and is not on a solar calendar. It wouldn’t occur to me to google world religious calendars before scheduling a casual after work drink with a departing employee.

      Refusing to consider moving it after it was brought up is the real problem. If there were complicated scheduling reasons of some sort that made moving it impossible, then those should have been explained, otherwise a shift for a major holy day is a reasonable request.

      (And that’s without considering the whole cultural thing of spending vacation days for your religious holidays, when most of your coworkers get theirs as national holidays).

      1. Observer*

        Accidentally scheduling it is pretty reasonable – people don’t necessarily carry around mental maps of holy days for religions they don’t practice, particularly if it’s not a stat holiday and is not on a solar calendar. It wouldn’t occur to me to google world religious calendars before scheduling a casual after work drink with a departing employee.

        If you are seriously concerned about DEI, then the most basic thing you can do before scheduling anything is to use something like google to check what’s going on on other calendars. It takes about two minutes and it’s extremely easy to do. And anyone with some basic cultural competence should already be aware that there are lots of people in the world whose calendars don’t exactly sync with the business calendar. So, while I do not expect people to have a mental map of every possible holiday, it just makes sense to check the date you are considering against at least the major religions.

        If someone is not aware of this issue, or can’t take the 2 minutes involved, that’s a problem to start with.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          I think that’s something that should be official policy then; have a quick link to a work related calendar that lists the religious that need to be considered, and what dates are blacked out for work-related social events or important meetings, so people don’t have to guess, and let people know that this is what they should be doing.

          (I work in a very international environment, and we tend to know roughly when the big holidays where offices actually shut down for an extended period, like Christmas, Lunar New Year, August in Europe, but other that that people speak up if there’s a potential conflict. Sometimes it’s religious holidays, more often it’s noting that a meeting day is a stat holiday for some of the participants).

          1. Observer*

            I think that’s something that should be official policy then; have a quick link to a work related calendar that lists the religious that need to be considered, and what dates are blacked out for work-related social events or important meetings, so people don’t have to guess, and let people know that this is what they should be doing.

            Or at least, the DEI Director should be doing this! And then backing up when stuff falls through the cracks.

            The fact that this didn’t occur to anyone says that departing employee has a point. It’s not clear how broad the DEI problem is, but it’s there. Unless one agrees with certain groups who explicitly except Jews from any and all DEI (even when their identity overlaps the group that they are advocating for).

            1. ferrina*

              This is something that the DEI Director should be doing, but I wouldn’t expect regular managers to necessarily have these memorized. It would be great, but it’s understandable that a well-meaning person could accidentally schedule on a religious holiday.

              So no blame to the LW for accidentally scheduling an event on Rosh Hashanah, but side-eye to the DEI Director for saying it was fine (nope, should have looked for an alternate date) and to the LW for brushing off DEI concerns because they didn’t like who the concern came from.

              1. Grammar Penguin*

                This is the interim DEI director. I read that as, someone with zero training or experience but who was handed that hat to wear because the company needs someone to hold that title until they can hire someone who actually knows what they’re doing.

                That the company treats having a DEI Director role as a meaningless title, a box to check, without showing concern for whether the person in the role knows anything about it shows that it’s really just not a high priority for the company.

                So I’d save my side-eye for the CEO who sets the company’s priorities and presumably assigned the interim position to someone who doesn’t have the knowledge, rather than the poor schmuck who got tapped to do a job they don’t know how to do.

                DEI is just so obviously not a priority for this company or for the CEO. Departing employee said so. CEO is acting out now trying to deflect from the consequences of CEO’s own choices.

                1. ferrina*

                  Even an interim DEI person should know this! This is DEI 101. I inadvertently became the DEI person at my company- I didn’t have any training, but I had the willingness and enough clout to make something happen. It took me 2 minutes on Google to know not to schedule things on Rosh Hashanah.

                  If this DEI person is just a figure head, I’d be even more skeptical of LW. Either they don’t know what a figure head looks like, of they are very intentionally blame shifting.

          2. Lea*

            And just because you are aware that something is a holiday doesn’t mean you know whether it is one that needs scheduling around. I am familiar with major religious holidays generally, but there are some that show up on my phone calendar and I have no idea whether observant Hindus need time off for them, or what. We have had these discussions about Diwali before, but there are others that are less well known. If you have a small team you can just ask, but I think it would harder for a big company

        2. Roland*

          I don’t think it’s obvious and easy at all. For example, I wouldn’t expect a non-Jewish person to know that sometimes the day I want off is the ine before the day marked on the calendar. It’s also much more than a 2 minute task to figure out how important any events on a date actually are and what are the chances someone would want them off. Eg do we really expect gentiles to know what isru chag or chol hamoed mean for scheduling purposes? And that’s just Judaism, there are many religions in the world.

          I agree that a DEI-concious company needs to do this but it’s worth an investment from the DEI team and some centralized standards. The 2 minute task should be “look up the date on the company calendar and see what the policy is”, not “cultural-religious research”.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            Exactly – you want to set people up to succeed, not set traps for them to fail. And the details of what which religious holidays are considered important enough to take a day off (or skip a social event) is not straight forward, and can vary by sect/denomination, by personal belief, and by circumstances.

            1. Caroline+Bowman*

              Super-important BUT not so important that staff get the day off because of Reasons. So to recap, useful as a tool to beat the OP with for sure, but otherwise just not that big a deal.

              OP’s main fault is in not realising that the Head Honcho was tacitly hinting that they shouldn’t have the event then. Knowing that Head Honcho is a malicious, spiteful person generally should have given them enough of a heads-up to simply not have the leaving drinks at all if a different date or time couldn’t be found.

              1. Despachito*

                “Knowing that Head Honcho is a malicious, spiteful person generally should have given them enough of a heads-up to simply not have the leaving drinks at all if a different date or time couldn’t be found.”

                Do you mean that they should rather satisfy the malicious, spiteful person than the employee leaving over this very same malice and spite?

                (I know that this is not as straightforward because the Head Honcho did have a valid point but I sort of hate situations when the malicious person basically weaponizes something like this, and gets their comeuppance because the normal people want to be fair?)

                Personally, I would think about a private goodbay party for the leaving person, leaving the CEO completely out of it.

                1. Lea*

                  And not for nothing, but it is very common that you schedule something when the most people, or the most important ones, can attend and not everyone

            2. münchner kindl*

              So is there one easy calendar tool where a DEI or HR person can import each year’s moving (lunar or lunar-solar calendars) most important holidays into a standard office calendar?

              For the major moving Christian holidays (and those which are state holidays) you can import them into Outlook at start of each year. Then add regional school vacations (both for employees with kids, and for when to avoid travelling because everything’s full) – and you’ve left out everybody else. I wouldn’t know where to find official dates for other religions, though (except Wikipedia).

              1. ecnaseener*

                You can import Jewish holidays into outlook, but you would still need to do some googling to figure out which are major holidays, minor holidays/fasts, etc., the fact that they start at sundown the day before the listed day; what the food restrictions may be, etc. Just blocking off every single Jewish holiday on the calendar won’t work.

                1. Eldritch Office Worker*

                  Yeah this is where I usually get tripped up (I asked a question below clarifying which holidays this posted was referring to – I THINK I know but yknow, always trying to solidify things in my brain). The sundown thing is always what trips me up, especially where I am it can get dark super early in the winter. I do my best but also tend to defer to letting people tell me what they need, so I can’t personally fault the letter writer for the original scheduling mistake. But once you are alerted, blowing it off is not the way to go (which I pin on the DEI director for not flagging).

              2. JTP*

                At my office, marketing puts out an annual DEI calendar — staff download it from the Intranet and it imports major holidays and observances (not just religious ones — Women’s Equality Day, the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, Disability Independence Day, etc) into Outlook.

                1. Curmudgeon in California*

                  Wow.

                  Does it have the solar holidays like the solstices and equinoxes too? Plus the cross quarter days?

                  As a pagan I look sideways at people putting all the emphasis on the JCI religions and ignoring all the others. Yes, I have often worked the Christian and Jewish holidays so my Christian or Jewish coworkers can have time off, but it seldom goes the other way. One floating holiday a year doesn’t help when your religion has eight.

                2. Haley*

                  Curmudgeon, you have just as much of a right to practice your own religious holidays – if you are not getting equal treatment, you could be being discriminated against. That doesn’t mean your Jewish, Muslim, or Christian colleagues don’t deserve the same courtesy.

              3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                British people have discovered this week that national holidays are imported automatically into calendars (Google, Outlook, etc) and I see no reason why the larger providers couldn’t have toggled settings for the festivals of different religious groups – if a new starter declares themselves an adherent, we add that religion toggle to the calendar and note their record for future requests.

                1. to varying degrees*

                  Seriously, in this day and age it’s not that difficult to have holidays of major religions on your calendar. I currently have Christian, Judaism, Muslim and Hindu as toggled to show up on both my work (Outlook) and personal (google) calendars.

                  But even if I didn’t and I had someone come to me saying there was a conflict with an event and a major holiday in their religion I’d move the event.

              4. ThatGirl*

                My iPhone calendar has major religious holidays on it, including Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Diwali, Ramadan, etc. It’s not terribly hard to find that sort of thing.

              5. Observer*

                So is there one easy calendar tool where a DEI or HR person can import each year’s moving (lunar or lunar-solar calendars) most important holidays into a standard office calendar?

                Google certainly has this information. If you are using Google services, then you literally just need to turn this on. Outlook has a lot of this built in as well, although I think that it could be more extensive. For instance, you can add India’s holidays to the calendar, but there is not a choice for Hindu religious holidays. However, a quick Google search finds a few options that can be downloaded and imported to Outlook.

              6. Allonge*

                If an org has a DEI director and uses a calendar tool, maybe they need to put together a custom package of ‘holidays’ as well as a ‘we work these days but they are major holidays of religions represented in our area / org, avoid when scheduling e.g. all staff events’ and explain what this means.

                Each year I get a ‘these are days we are closed’ package from IT, to be imported into my Outlook – should be easy enough to create another one.

                I know these things are google-able, and maybe it should be instinct to do that, but I like systemic solutions better. And if DEI is taken seriously on a company level, show it in these ways too.

              7. Petty+Betty*

                I use a couple of different calendars for holidays. But, I also like knowing the holidays for *every* day of the year.
                As an app, I use Holiday Today (which I’ve had to send in fixes for), and online I use Brownielocks. I used to run a daily holiday page on social media platforms, but now that I get up so early, I don’t have the energy to keep up with it.

              8. TruetalesfromHR*

                Outlook allows you to have all religious holidays & you can choose to select countries for which you want to see the holidays. It is supper easy.

            3. L-squared*

              Exactly, Even though I’m “Christian”, I totally don’t care about certain days like Good Friday. However, for others, that would be a big deal

              1. lost academic*

                This is fairly important and I think it’s why having a DEI staffer with some training rather then just goodwill matters. For instance, I moved from a Protestant dominated area in the US to a Catholic one a few years ago. Now, the standard is to take off Good Friday for a lot of businesses, all the daycares and the schools. Never would have happened in the first area and it wouldn’t have occurred to them either.

          2. Edwina*

            But this is Rosh Hashanah, our new year, and that, Yom Kippur, and Passover are the three major Jewish holidays, that surely we can expect other people to be aware of! We have to be fully surrounded by Christmas and Easter; surely they can nod to Rosh Hashanah and Passover at least. No one’s expecting the endless minor holidays to be recognized! (and they have certainly become aware of our extremely minor holiday Hanukah!!! Again–I think there are certain major holidays and holy days or periods (Lunar New Year, Ramadan, for example) that any diversity team should be fundamentally aware of.

            1. L-squared*

              I don’t know that “surely” you can expect that. It very much depends on the office. I once worked in a suburb that had a high Jewish population, and as such, got to know a lot of the holidays only because there would be certain days off. I have friends who went to a high school that had a large muslim population, and again, they were able to learn it over time. But if you aren’t working or living at a place with high populations of non Christian holidays, I don’t think its a fair expectation that people know that. If its not on my calendar, I’ll likely forget. Hell, I’m black and I only know the date of Juneteenth because it shows up on my google calendar.

              1. ShanShan*

                I’m pretty sure they meant “surely we can expect” in the sense of “surely this is the base level of respect that coworkers should have for one another,” not in the sense of “people will actually bother doing this.”

              2. Oxford Comma*

                I think if you’re in DEI, you need to learn to care about it.

                I’ve seen some dubious scheduling over the years. My favorite being the time my boss insisted on scheduling a networking event on Yom Kippur and only backing down when 5 of the attendees called and reamed him out. He also learned that offering a choice of two meal entrees where one was pork and the other shellfish, was not okay. But he learned.

                Generally, I think knowing when Ramadan is not a big ask. And shoving food underneath the faces of fasting Muslims, not cool.

              3. Lea*

                Right, I learned a lot about Jewish holidays when I was in area with a large population but knew very little about it when I was in high school because we just didn’t have very many or any Jewish students.

            2. Rain's Small Hands*

              I live in a part of the country with very few Jews – but a LOT of Muslims. I know far more pagans than Jews. My kids graduated without a single Jew in their class, but plenty of girls wearing hajibs under their caps.

              My youngest then went to college on the East Coast at a school with a kosher kitchen in the cafeteria, and learned a lot about Jewish culture and faith, including the holidays.

              You can’t expect everyone to just know. Maybe in a heavily Jewish area you can since stores and restaurants close and your office is half empty due to observance. Anymore than we can expect everyone to know when Diwali is. And, yes, loading calendars helps, but there are enough faiths and enough holidays that you really need to understand WHICH holidays are important to the people you work with before setting your foot in it – so you’ll set your foot in it and people need to be tolerant on both ends. The Good Friday example above is a good one, for many Catholics its a REALLY BIG DEAL, for most Protestants, not so much.

              My take on this is that happy hour is a horrible thing for DEI efforts anyway – since a bar isn’t a great place for conservative elements of MANY faiths, it isn’t a great place for many recovering alcoholics, and happy hours tend to exclude those that have to run off to get kids from daycare, are taking night classes, or just have other plans for their evenings than hanging out with coworkers. Also, alcohol and coworkers are, in my experience, not a great mix and have caused more than one sexual harassment investigation during my career. Bring in bagels.

              1. tamarack and fireweed*

                (It wouldn’t have occurred to me that alcohol is involved in an office happy hour for a leaving colleague. We all seem to be projecting additional attributes on the situation in the letter to fill out the specifics. I was imagining 15 min with cupcakes and lemonade.

                Also, regional styles vary even within Christianity it seems! In Germany where I grew up, Good Friday was the highest holiday for the (mostly Lutheran) Protestants, but not for the Catholics – that’s Easter. We were about half/half split. Spiteful Catholics would ostentatiously clean their windows on Good Friday to annoy their Protestant neighbors.)

          3. Ellis Bell*

            A colleague of mine got scolded for taking the wrong holy day off by her agency who “had googled” when Eid was. Which you can’t do because the exact date varies.

            1. Ana+Gram*

              I recently learned that when our public schools had a kerfuffle over Eid. It’s now a public school holiday which is great but I guess no one realized the date wasn’t always set in stone well in advance and the school system wanted to set the schedule for the coming year very much in advance. It was definitely a learning moment for me.

              1. Ellis Bell*

                I was taken aback because my first job was in a Muslim heavy area, and we were a newspaper with the policy of “ask the mosques” when it will be. But, that’s experience, and experience of a structured environment with a good policy. Not everyone has that, and if Google wants to be an authority on dates they have to be more accurate (I just searched and it seems they are more accurate about this today, but this was only last year). We really can’t put this on individuals to “just know” because “major religions”. I work in a Catholic school and I couldn’t tell you when Easter is going to be without looking it up and having a reliable structure, like term dates, to refer to.

                1. Humble Schoolmarm*

                  I don’t think people have to know the exact dates, but it doesn’t seem an excessive burden to think that people should be generally aware that you need to take a peek at the calendar for Rosh Hashanah when you’re planning a big or after work event in September/October (like you should check for Lunar New Year in Jan-Feb and Easter before scheduling on a Friday in March/April).

          1. LlamaDuck*

            This definitely varies regionally.

            In my neck of the woods, it’s usually Christianity/American cultural+religious holidays, Chinese cultural + religious holidays (Taoist, Shinto Buddhist, Confucian), Indian cultural + religious holidays (Hindu [Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism, and Smartism], Sikh, Muslim), and sometimes smaller religious calendars like Baháʼí Faith holy days (there are eleven).

            Really, it depends on which cultures and religions are represented in your organization. Even if only one person practices a minor religion at a workplace, it’s still important to respect their holy days and other relevant practices.

            1. just some guy*

              Yep – where I live, Judaism is the sixth most common religion (behind Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism). That’s not even allowing for how some of those religions have multiple branches with differing holiday dates (e.g. Protestant/Catholic vs. Orthodox Christianity).

              I agree that it makes more sense to try to identify which holidays are actually relevant to people at the organisation rather than expecting some shared understanding of which are and aren’t “major” religions.

            2. L-squared*

              Even based on representation, its still up to the individual. One of my colleagues I sit near at work is Jewish, but she doesn’t really practice, nor is she taking off those days. Whereas one of my remote colleagues is very devout and does.

              And while we should respect it, I also don’t know that for a small number, that means you can’t plan anything on those days either. Yes, let them take the days off and do whatever they do, but life kind of goes on for everyone else working that day.

              1. FashionablyEvil*

                I’ll just say, as someone who has pointed out my own company’s lapses around Jewish holidays, regular work stuff? Fine, going to keep chugging. Major events that don’t HAVE to be on those days and yet are? No. Have some basic respect and decency.

                (The events that I’ve complained about the scheduling for are a town hall with out president and a distinguished lecture on racial justice. The latter, in particular, was a headdesk for me.)

              2. Happy meal with extra happy*

                You’re all over this thread arguing that Jewish holidays don’t apply to the majority of people, so even if one works somewhere with multiple Jewish employees, those employees shouldn’t expect any respect for their religion, and it’s all kinda uncomfortable.

            3. Catherine*

              Although a lot of Japanese people simultaneously practice Shinto and Buddhism, Shinto and Buddhism are not automatically conflated, and Shinto is very definitely not Chinese. (I am from a Shinto family that does not incorporate Buddhism.)

              1. LlamaDuck*

                Sure, I’m just saying our company has a lot of culturally Chinese employees, and that’s why Shinto and Buddhist holidays are on the calendar here. I know not all Shinto practitioners are Chinese, just the ones here are.

                That’s why I said, “in my neck of the woods.” Obviously, religions are practiced in more than one country and culture, and the practices diverge. I assume in other regions, there are more Zen Buddhists, or Buddhists with different cultural backgrounds. And if there are Zen Buddhists or Buddhists from other cultures who need accommodation and to have their holidays on the schedule—even if they’re different from the Chinese Buddhists’ holiday schedule—that’s completely reasonable.

                Also, while there are cultural differences, I also agree that it’s important to respect religious practice as a separate thing from cultural background. Like there aren’t necessarily many Black Americans who practice Baháʼí Faith, but if there’s a Black employee who’s also Baháʼí and wants to celebrate Ridván with his family, that should be accommodated.

            1. WantonSeedStitch*

              As a Pagan, I appreciate that. We’re used to being dismissed with “oh, I meant REAL, MAINSTREAM religions.” I’ve been practicing this religion for nearly thirty years now. I’m pretty sure it’s not just a teenage phase at this point.

              1. Curmudgeon in California*

                Yeah, I’ve been pagan for over 40 years, and I have lost count of the people who don’t consider my religion “REAL”. I’m past the phase where I wanted to celebrate every holiday with deep, meaningful experiences, but it would be nice to at least have the solar holidays recognized.

              2. Haley*

                Paganism is just as protected under discrimination laws as any other. (Not trying to invalidate your experience of being dismissed, just sharing the facts).

              1. Lenora+Rose*

                Or, arguably, they’re not working it because the workplace as a whole is closed due to the choices of higher ups and/or the government where they live, and trying to schedule it as a work day just to claim they’re being egalitarian to other faiths is performative at best.

              2. Curmudgeon in California*

                I regularly take on-call for Christmas so my devout Christian coworkers can have the day off. Since it’s not my religion, it doesn’t mean anything to me. If anything, I might join my Jewish friends for Chinese food that day.

              3. Cringing 24/7*

                Incorrect. An employEE not working on a religious holiday because an employER isn’t open that day says nothing about the employee.

                1. Leenie*

                  It’s not incorrect. Acknowledging that Christianity is a cultural behemoth in the west that we all prioritize and work around, regardless of our personal beliefs, is simply a nod to reality. The OP is likely being forced to treat some religions as more important than others, but he’s absolutely doing it. Because we all are.

                2. Cringing 24/7*

                  @Leenie: My not working on Christmas does not reflect any amount of reverence nor respect that I have for that day as a Christian holiday. I’m not being forced to “treat” it like anything – I’m simply not being allowed to work on that day.

        3. Lydia*

          Even if you’re serious about DEI, fuck ups can happen. Being serious about DEI doesn’t make you immune, it just (hopefully) makes you better at avoiding the fuck ups.

      2. No apples and honey 4 u*

        Yeah, I get doing it the first time. It happens to me all the time. But usually in the adult world as soon as I say “oh that’s Rosh Hashanah” people quickly move it with no drama. That’s all I want!

      3. ShanShan*

        I don’t think you understand the extent to which you are coming off as privileged, and oblivious about privilege, in your first paragraph.

        I’m Jewish, and I’ve never had to Google a calendar of world religions to figure out when Christian holidays take place. Do you know why? Because literally my whole work calendar revolves around them, even though I don’t celebrate any of them. I see my family around Christmas and Easter, not during any of our actual holidays, because that’s when my job gives people time off. I haven’t spent a single holiday that I actually celebrate with my family in five years, because I moved out of state five years ago and my job will perhaps begrudgingly give me one day off for my holidays, but certainly not a week.

        Given all that, do you understand how infuriating it is that you’re describing keeping track of when non-Christian holidays are like it’s some kind of irritating chore that I could never reasonably expect you to do?

        I understand that you’re not doing any of this on purpose, but I don’t think you realize what how this sounds to the people whose religious calendar you’re talking about.

        1. Edelweiss*

          Totally fair, and that does sound extremely frustrating. I’m sorry you have to deal with that. But there’s many, many more religions in the world than Christianity and Judaism, and its not reasonable to expect people to remember off the top of their heads all the days which are important to someone, especially when these are non-static year on year. For example, I work with a lot of Kurds from a very specific region in west Asia, and there are several days which are important to this population but which wouldn’t necessarily be to other non-Kurdish Muslims. As an atheist working in a Muslim majority country, I no longer remember the holiday dates for the religious tradition of the country I was raised in, and am often surprised when someone from back home reminds me.

          All that to say – I think forgetting is fine. It’s not inherently disrespectful not to recall the major holiday days of every religion and consider this when scheduling after-work drinks. However – barrelling on once someone has told you its a problem (particularly someone of the religion in question…) is hugely disrespectful.

          1. ShanShan*

            Sure, I do understand all of that, and I agree with the thrust of your comment. I’m just frustrated about the difference between “it would be somewhat difficult to do this” and “it’s unreasonable to ask people to try.”

            If someone tried, and made a mistake, then that’s fine! But that doesn’t make me, or anyone else, an unreasonable person for expecting them to make the attempt. The “not everyone consults a calendar of world religions” comment was coming off that way a bit.

          2. Observer*

            But there’s many, many more religions in the world than Christianity and Judaism, and its not reasonable to expect people to remember off the top of their heads all the days which are important to someone, especially when these are non-static year on year

            But that’s not what we are asking for!

            Here is what *I* am asking for:

            1. If you talk about about DEI, please don’t exclude Jews! I can’t tell from here whether the OP’s company just blows of all religious / cultural non-Christian events and holidays or just Jewish ones, but a fair amount of the pushback seems very Jewish centered.

            2. If you talk about DEI make sure to get and use the relevant basic tools. A relevant basic tool is a calendar with the Holidays of the major religions.

            3. When you slip up – which happens to all of us – don’t blow it off, which the OP and the *DEI Director* most definitely did. And when you get called on the carpet over this – even when it’s done inappropriately! back up and check your facts here. The OP clearly seems to think that since their CEO is a jerk and that the organization is not accommodating to a genuine religious need, it’s just not a big deal to layer another exclusion on top of that. How, at this point, are they still asking if this is really a “big deal”?

            It’s the major failure on #3 that makes the first two points stand out.

            However – barrelling on once someone has told you its a problem (particularly someone of the religion in question…) is hugely disrespectful.

            Yes, this is the key to the whole issue.

            1. Lea*

              It sounds somewhat unlikely that the major pushback was on Jewish holidays, as the Jewish ceo was noted as resistant to change?

              This particular event was an issue, and they could have changed it absolutely, but it’s also quite possible nobody wanted the ceo at the drinks and it didn’t affect anyone else.

              Sounds like the company has deep issue regardless

              1. Observer*

                If that’s what happened, that’s DEEPLY problematic. Because what you are suggesting is that the DEI director was ok with using religious observance as a way to block the CEO.

                And you have no idea who else was affected by this. No one bothered to find out and by the time someone mentioned it, no one with any sense is going to speak up.

                You could be right that this is not about Jews, but DEI in general. But NEITHER is acceptable. The OP and the DEI director fell down in a big way here.

                1. Lea*

                  I’m saying the person leaving is leaving in part because of upset over dei practices, so it’ is probably a bigger problem.

                  Of course I don’t know who of the invitees is Jewish. They should have rescheduled when the ceo suggested it, obviously.

                  But if I was leaving because I didn’t like certain aspects of a company, and the ceo was resistant to those changes, and my happy hour was scheduled to a bad time everybody but that person, I would be a bit miffed.

        2. Edwina*

          Yes, thank you, and I just made a similar comment above. We’re fully aware of Christian holidays; Christians can absolutely make an effort to be aware of other religions’ holidays. Otherwise they’re basically saying “Christianity is the only religion that matters,” and honestly we who have other faiths, find this really upsetting and hurtful.
          And it’s not “every religion,” come on. Judaism is a religion that a significant number of people practice, as is Islam. Start there. Then you can honor Diwali and Tet and maybe help celebrate Lunar New Year. It’s FUN and INTERESTING, not “irritating.” We aren’t irritating. We just celebrate different holidays, and they’re just as legitimate.

          1. marvin*

            I feel like this is a good example of privilege making something feel like a chore when it’s actually an opportunity to enrich one’s life. I guess one could grumpily look at a google calendar once a year and complain about it, but one could also learn about the history and cultural traditions associated with various holidays and have a good time. Basically the same thing applies every time a marginalized group just wants to be respected in a basic way. Get to know us! We’re actually pretty fun.

            1. Dahlia*

              It is kind of boggling my mind that I apparently put more effort into what silly posts I put into my tumblr queue than some companies put into their business.

          2. just some guy*

            I appreciate the annoyance caused by a majority religion refusing to consider other faiths, but in drawing that line on “significant number of practitioners” there’s a risk that you end up doing much the same thing.

            In particular, the idea that one would “start with Judaism and Islam” and consider non-Abrahamic holidays afterwards seems hard to justify even on a “number of practitioners” basis. OP doesn’t mention where they are; if UK or Australia, for instance, there are probably far more people observing Diwali and LNY than Jewish holidays, and even for the USA it’s not clear to me that there’s much of a gap.

        3. Caroline+Bowman*

          Do you think that might be because you work in a country that is predominantly Christian and operates according to the Christian calendar?

          I myself am fairly rabidly atheist, but I’m aware that in, say, UAE, even having a couple of Christmas decorations can be enough to get you put in prison or deported. Everyone observes Ramadan, because it’s a Muslim country. There are very, very few concessions granted to any other faith for that reason.

          Telling someone that they are ”oblivious of their privilege” comes off as quite condescending and convenient. It sucks that your own religious holidays are not the public holidays of where you live, no question. The OP was doing their best and was pretty much set up to fail. Yes, they should have responded to the tacit hint from the Head Dude to do it at another time, but I’d warrant that if they’d done that, and it had been poorly attended or somehow not been a smash success, the blame would have been placed squarely on the OP anyway.

          1. Allison K*

            Actually, the UAE is pretty relaxed about Christmas—shopping malls are decked out with ornaments and presents and Santa and elves and fir trees and garlands. The Dubai Mall hangs giant ornaments in the biggest atrium, claiming one is “the world’s biggest ornament.” There’s no religious element outside of private homes, but the “Winter Shopping Holiday” stretches into January and most malls keep their decor up until “Dubai Shopping Festival ends at the beginning of February.

            So it’s a shopping holiday with lights. Basically just like back in the USA :)

              1. ShanShan*

                Also, even if the UAE really did operate in the way that this poster suggested that… would be bad?

                Surely people can be annoyed about a lack of religious accommodation in their home country without needing to put every country that does it poorly into some kind of March Madness bracket to figure out which one is worst at it?

                1. MissElizaTudor*

                  Are you asking if it would be bad if in the UAE people could be imprisoned or deported for having Christmas decorations? Or were you asking if it would be bad if people didn’t make a lot of concession to other faiths there?

                  Because yes, it would be horrifyingly bad if the former were true.

                2. just some guy*

                  MissElizaTudor: that “if X happened, that… would be bad?” construction is an idiom. It’s not asking “would that be bad?”, it’s more like saying “that *would* be bad… surely we understand that?”

                  So you and ShanShan are in agreement there.

          2. ecnaseener*

            Not sure what kind of point you’re trying to make here. Being Christian in a predominantly Christian culture where even secular cultural elements are often shaped to fit Christianity *is* a place of privilege. The existence of other countries where Christianity is a minority or even oppressed doesn’t magically erase the privilege of belonging to your country’s dominant culture.

            1. Jewish librarian*

              Yes, this. In Pakistan, Christians have a really hard go of it. But a white American Christian can’t very well claim they themselves experience oppression as a Christian because of the situation in Pakistan – they’re not Pakistani and they don’t live there!

          3. ShanShan*

            Me: it’s very irritating that my country operates on the Christian calendar and makes very few accommodations for people who do not.

            You: do you think maybe that’s because your country operates on the Christian calendar and makes very few accommodations for people who do not?

            I do, in fact, think that that is the explanation. I also think that the first rule of the tautology club is the first rule of the tautology club. What I’m unsure about, though, is your point.

            I’m not annoyed about anything the OP did in terms of scheduling. I’m annoyed that the poster I’m responding to sound like they were dismissing taking an interest in other religions’ calendars for scheduling purposes as an unreasonable request, which it is not.

            1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

              Absolute agreement, and also, the amount of justified sass and spice in your reply is giving back the life drained out of me at Caroline Bowman’s pretty ignorant and offensive take. I hope they take your words to heart and grow.

          4. Just Your Everyday Crone*

            Having an entire calendar planned around your own religion while simultaneously thinking it’s so hard to google a general religious calendar is pretty much the definition of privilege.

          5. Observer*

            Do you think that might be because you work in a country that is predominantly Christian and operates according to the Christian calendar?

            Well, yes. If you are a Christian (whether culturally or religiously) in a country dominated by Christianity, then you have privilege. What happens in countries like the UAE of KSA is not relevant *in this context*.

            The OP was doing their best and was pretty much set up to fail. Yes, they should have responded to the tacit hint from the Head Dude to do it at another time,

            Nope, they didn’t even try. They didn’t check the dates and then when informed of the matter – and this is NOT “a tacit hint” to ANYONE who bothers to spend all of 2 minutes on the matter- just blew it off.

            1. Green Tea*

              It sounds like OP elevated it to their DEI officer, and the DEI officer said it was okay. I’m judging that person a lot more harshly than OP – it was their job to recognize that this was an issue and recommend rescheduling.

        4. Chilipepper Attitude*

          The reality, much to my dismay, is that we live in a country (USA), that revolves around the Christian calendar. I’m sorry the way we function does dismiss other religions and cultures. But I think it is not that it is irritating to look up other holidays, it is that it is confusing even when you do. There is a great deal of nuance; it is more than here are the dates. I worked at a Modern Orthodox school and they took every Jewish holiday off. I learned them all but would often be told, “oh, it’s ok to have the kids do homework over that one.” So there is nuance. And even googling enough to try to grasp that does not always help; there are different practices in each religion. Now I know enough to google high holy days to make sure I’m not scheduling something on those holidays. But I don’t know that for all cultures. I think the DEI lead/company should take the lead and add holidays to a central calendar. I’m going to suggest it at my current company.

        5. Elspeth+McGillicuddy*

          Really? I mean, I’ve always known I’m pretty lousy with dates, but I have to google Christian holidays all the time! And I am Christian. Not Christmas, that one is the same date every time, but I have to check Easter every year. Cause it moves about pretty wildly. But maybe that’s just me. Admittedly I do know it’s coming because of the explosion of pastel bunnies.

          The question that would be a better analogy to OPs situation, since neither she nor you are Christian, would be “How familiar are you with the major holidays of a minority religion you are not a part of?”

          1. ShanShan*

            Oh, come on. You are aware that Easter exists and that it happens in the spring and that it takes place on a Sunday. You needing to check a calendar to figure out *which* Sunday is not at all comparable to someone in corporate scheduling having no frame of reference for when, say, Eid or Holi take place.

            I am not up on other religions’ holiday calendars because I don’t work in DEI and I don’t schedule meetings or office events. In other words, I am not literally getting paid to at least take an interest.

            1. DataSci*

              Exactly. People don’t have to be aware of the exact date of Rosh Hashanah, just that it’s important and roughly when it takes place so they know to check dates when scheduling something important in September. It is no harder than keeping track of Easter.

              (I don’t celebrate either one.)

            2. MysteryFan*

              Exactly. It seems that this thread has devolved into recriminations about Individuals not knowing/caring about religious holidays, when the real point (as you pointed out), is that this company HAS a DEI office. It is literally their job to keep up with these things. That should be kept in mind.

          2. Happy meal with extra happy*

            No, that’s not a good analogy. No one is expecting anyone to know when all major holidays of all religions are. Rather, we are hoping that an effort is made to find out when these holidays are in advance so that scheduling can be done around them whenever possible.

            1. to varying degrees*

              Hard agree. And when all it takes is a couple of key strokes or a google search it’s hard to believe that it’s really that difficult.

        6. Old and don’t care*

          I think most people in the U.S. have trouble relating to this because outside of school districts most U.S employees don’t have time off for Easter and have one or two days off for Christmas. So although culturally December revolves around Christmas that does not translate to paid time off for most people. If I want to spend Easter with my family I take vacation time and that is true for the vast majority of U.S. workers.

          1. Lea*

            True but Easter is on a Sunday, so for people working office jobs it’s not usually an issue.

            Good Friday otoh is usually not a holiday

      4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        As a side note, it is very easy to add sets of various religious holidays to your calendar if you use any kind of computer calendar! I have Jewish, Sunni Muslim, and Shiite Muslim ones on my work Outlook as well as an assortment of Christian ones so I know if I’m likely to be leaving anyone out. They aren’t my holy days, so I’ll schedule my own individual appointments on them as needed, but I’ll ask the people I’m scheduling with first to make sure that isn’t a holy day for them. (So, for example, my dog’s going to the vet on Rosh Hashanah, but I double-checked with the vet office manager when I booked the appointment that they’d be open on that date, which she suggested, when I booked it.)

        The tricky part is having the cultural context to tell the major holy days from the minor ones – I know the “greatest hits” for the most part, but can’t always tell which of the less major holidays will actually be things the people I’m trying to coordinate with will be otherwise engaged for. It gets easier the more years I do it, though.

        1. WellRed*

          I cannot remember the last time I bought a physical calendar that Doesn’t have many and varied holidays included. Get a paper back up if Microsoft etc haven’t yet figured this out.

        2. Happy meal with extra happy*

          Also, the more it is clear that scheduling around (all) major holidays is expected and the norm, the more employees who belong to smaller religions will feel comfortable mentioning that their holidays aren’t noted.

          1. JustAnotherKate*

            My Apple calendar shows at least the Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Muslim holidays by default. It’s interesting to see what holidays are happening each day, and it’s not super difficult to pull out your iPhone and look up, say, the next month’s holidays and get an idea of their meaning. (I haven’t used the Android OS, but I’m guessing their calendars can easily be set that way as well.)

      5. Irish Teacher.*

        Reminds me of when Ireland had a Minister for Justice who was Jewish. Ireland’s Jewish community is tiny, so most of us would not be aware of Jewish holidays. Anyway, he turned down an invitation to a Garda (police) function after a row between the gardai (police) and the government about pay or something (This was years ago, so I don’t remember the details) and the initial reaction in the country was “oh, he’s afraid to meet them,” until he pointed out the day was a Jewish holiday, whereupon the whole country sort of collectively went, “oh, right,” and dropped the issue.

        So yeah, accidents and misunderstandings happen, but I do think the LW should have changed the date once she realised it didn’t work for everybody.

      6. Riola Springs*

        “And had our CEO in his initial email told me that I needed to reschedule the event, I would have tried to do that. ”

        He told you it was Rosh Hashanah. Anyone will half a clue would have realised that mean you needed to reschedule. You didn’t.

        Yes, he’s being a giant jerk in how he behaves. But honestly, you’re not much better. You should have rescheduled immediately you were informed there was a clash (really you should have checked in advance and avoided scheduling happy hour on a High Holy Day, but apparently that level of awareness hasn’t made its way into either your consciousness or your company’s DEI-informed policies and procedures, sadly), and by not doing so you have given him the ammunition to attack you in this way.

        The thing is, he’s not wrong. He’s behaving very poorly and that undermines the effectiveness of his point, but the point is still accurate. You need to do a lot of work to improve how you handle these situations, raise your own awareness of DEI concerns, and most importantly, take this stuff seriously. Take this as a lesson, and be better. You can’t stop him being a jerk. You can stop yourself being one. Please, try.

        1. JM60*

          He told you it was Rosh Hashanah. Anyone will half a clue would have realised that mean you needed to reschedule.

          Lots of people are unfamiliar with Jewish holidays. Prior to this post, I haven’t even heard of Rosh Hashanah, so I would’ve needed to investigate how important (or not) this holiday was. If I were in the OP’s position, I probably would’ve taken the CEO’s FYI as his way of hinting that the event needs to be rescheduled, but the CEO should just plainly say that instead of hinting.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Yes he should have. And I don’t think anyone is defending how the CEO handled this. But if someone gives you information (an FYI) you should be investigating why that information is important. You can argue OP did that but going to the DEI director and they dropped the ball, but when the issue is raised, especially by a leader, it is absolutely expected you follow up in some way.

          2. Susanne*

            Seriously? You live in the United States of America (I’m assuming) and you’ve never heard of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Hanukah or Passover? Do you live in the sticks?

            1. Wheels on Fire*

              In 29 out of 50 of US states, Jews make up less than 1% of the population. There are only 2 states (NY and NJ) where Jews are more than 5% of the population. You don’t have live in the sticks to be unfamiliar with Judaism.

              1. ThatGirl*

                That said, there are often Jewish populations in or near big cities; I understand if you grew up in a small town or rural area you might not have been exposed, but Chicago’s north shore has several towns with larger Jewish populations, ditto the Philly area, Pittsburgh, etc.

                1. Robin*

                  Exactly. Jews tend to be concentrated in urban areas, so if you don’t live in or near a big city, you’re even less likely to be familiar with Judaism.

              2. Susanne*

                It’s a live-in-the-sticks mentality not to have at least *heard* of those things as an adult. I do have friends who grew up in small towns who didn’t meet Jewish people til they got to college. They were *aware* that they grew up in the sticks, and made special efforts to educate themselves. This isn’t that hard, unless you want to be stuck in the “I grew up in the sticks so I just have to remain culturally ignorant of every culture that isn’t within 5 miles of me.”

                1. JM60*

                  I’m going to defend what I assume you’d consider “a live-in-the-sticks mentality”.

                  If you spent all day everyday doing nothing but learning new facts, you’d still be ignorant of ~99.9% of facts. Wikipedia, which only contains a fraction of known information, currently contains 29 billion words and growing. If you spent 12 hours a day, 365 days a week, for 80 year reading Wikipedia, and Wikipedia stopped growing, you’d need to read at an average pace of 23 words per second to make it through all that data, which is about 5 times the reading pace of the average person.

                  Given that life is short, we can individually only learn a fraction of available data, and there are other ways to spend time other than learning random things, we need to have a way of deciding how much time to use on learning, and what we should learn about. My general approach is to spend some time researching things out of curiosity, plus research things that I know I’m ignorant about, and that I can foresee that ignorance likely being consequential (e.g., if it may affect how I vote or how I treat people). Otherwise, learn things on an “as they come up” basis.

                  In the case of Judiasm, I knew enough to know that learning more about Judiasm is unlikely to make me convert to that religion, and that such additional knowledge is unlikely to be very consequential. So Judiasm (like a billion other random topics) is on my list of “learn about it when it comes up/becomes relevant”, rather than, “go out of your way to spend time learning about it.” As far as I can tell, the only consequence of me being completely ignorant of Rosh Hashanah for the 1/3 of a century I’ve been alive is that someone on the Internet (you) shamed me for admitting that ignorance. Even if I were in the OP’s position, I think the way in which I would’ve acted (which would be different from the OP’s actions) wouldn’t have been affected much by that knowledge.

                2. tamarack and fireweed*

                  No, it is not. There are people of all religions who live in the sticks. Don’t be a cad. We have the internet even though we live in the sticks – we can look up an unfamiliar holiday. (Not that Jewish ones would be, given my spouse is Jewish.)

            2. seeeeeps*

              No need to bash people who live in rural areas as uninformed or uneducated, thank you. I happen to not prefer close neighbors, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know about world religions other than my own.

              1. ShanShan*

                It reminds me of all of those conservative posts about how “farmers shouldn’t have to pay for student loan forgiveness,” as if farmers don’t also get college degrees.

                Remind me what the A in Texas A&M stands for again?

              2. JM60*

                The funny thing is I actually don’t live in a rural area! I live (and spent most of my life) in the super high COL Santa Clara County. Surprisingly, the Jewish population here is only 0.7% according to the demographic data I could find, and is only 0.2% where I attended college.

                In my case, the general topic of Jewish holidays was in the category of “learn about it when it comes up/becomes relevant”, rather than, “go out of your way to educate yourself about it.” This holiday never came up for me until now.

              3. Susanne*

                If the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it! I’m referring explicitly to adults, living in the US in the year 2022, who “haven’t heard” of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Hanukah or Passover.

                1. Bucky Barnes*

                  Ok but can you avoid making sweeping generalizations about the south and rural areas? Signed, someone in an urban area in the south

                2. TechWorker*

                  I mean I live in the U.K. so not precisely your demographic, but as of yesterday I had heard of Passover, Hanukkah, Yom Kippur, but not Rosh Hashanah. Perhaps that makes me incredibly ignorant but you know, not deliberately so.

            3. ThatGirl*

              I spent my early childhood in an area with enough Jewish people that I got Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur off from school, but I did not know what Ramadan was until I got older (and now I live down the street from both a mosque and a synagogue). It’s okay to admit ignorance of things, though ideally once you learn a new thing you take it to heart and better yet, learn more.

            4. Disgruntled Pelican*

              I grew up in a decent-sized suburb in NC (around 40k people when I lived there) and I had literally never met a Jew until I was 17 and went to a writing camp in which most of the attendees were from the D.C. area (and many of them were Jewish). I had never heard of most of the major Jewish holidays—I was at least aware that Hannukah existed, but I knew absolutely nothing about it aside from the Adam Sandler song (and, obviously, I knew no one who celebrated).

              There are LOTS of places in the U.S. where people aren’t familiar with religions other than Christianity. Hopefully kids are learning more about other people’s faith traditions these days, but given the current political climate…

              1. ShanShan*

                I mean, nobody is asking this person to make a deep statement about the religious importance of Rosh Hashanna, though. We’re just asking them to open up their calendar to schedule this meeting, notice that there’s a word written on the day they’ve chosen that they don’t know, and take ten seconds to Google that word before plowing ahead with the scheduling.

                1. ShanShan*

                  They don’t have to know when every holiday in every minority religion takes place, because they’re not scheduling get-togethers every day. But it’s not unreasonable to ask them to check the very few days when they actually ARE scheduling something.

                2. Disgruntled Pelican*

                  Oh for sure! Definitely not saying that uninformed folx shouldn’t educate themselves. I was just responding to the idea that someone has to be a backwards idiot in order to not be familiar with Jewish holidays.

                3. JM60*

                  There’s no guarantee that religious holidays will show up in whatever calendar you’re using. They don’t show up on on Outlook when scheduling a meeting at my company, and they don’t show up by default on Google’s Calendar app on my phone.

            5. JM60*

              There’s no need to be rude.

              Rosh Hashanah is the only holiday in that list that I haven’t heard of.

              For what it’s worth, I spent most of my life in Santa Clara County, where about 0.7% of people reported being Jewish according to the demographic statistics I could find. The only other time I lived elsewhere was when attending college in a town with about a 0.2% Jewish population.

              It’s not like I’m someone who’s uneducated in general. I have an undergrad degree and plus a master’s degree. But I haven’t heard of Rosh Hashanah because it’s never come up and I never had a particular reason to go out of my way and research Jewish holidays.

              1. seeeeeps*

                I learned about Rosh Hashanah because I saw it on a calendar. There was a Jewish girl at my school and we were playing catch and every time would say something like “Happy birthday!” “Merry Christmas!” and I said “Happy Rosh Hashanah!” and she said, “Thank you!! I actually celebrate that!”

              2. NICS*

                It’s a little weird how proud you are of not knowing. Would you find it worth it to learn if an observantly Jewish person ended up in your life, such as as a coworker?

                1. JM60*

                  I posted a long reply that didn’t seem to post, but I’ll summarize it…

                  I’m not proud of my ignorance; I’m just not usually ashamed to admit it. So many problems occur because people feel like ignorance is something to be ashamed of, rather than acknowledged. We’re all ignorant of approx 99.99% of potential knowledge. Here, I bring up my ignorance on this particular topic to make the point that many people won’t automatically understand the significance of “Rosh Hashanah” if it’s dropped in a brief FYI. Granted, it should’ve been handled better by the OP (and especially the DEI director, who I fault more), even with this ignorance.

                  As for whether knowing about a coworker being Jewish changing how much more interested I am in investing time and effort into learning more about Judaism, that depends on how it comes up and how it apparently affects how I should treat them. If I found out about their religion because a different coworker told me, that probably wouldn’t cause me to study Judaism unless I happen to be curious about learning about Judaism for it’s own sake. If it came up because their religious beliefs showed signs of being relevant to how I should behave (like in the OP’s situation), then I’d try reasonably put in effort to learn what seems relevant.

            6. GreyjoyGardens*

              There’s nothing wrong with living in the sticks. And there is surprising diversity even in those sticks.

            7. Russian In Texas*

              I live in the US, and I am a Jew (by blood, I am an atheist).
              I grew up as an atheist, and legitimately did not know about these holidays until I moved to the US. Nor did I know when most Christian (Orthodox, in my case) holidays were. That was the feature of the Soviet upbringing.
              I know of these holidays. Except for Hanukah and Passover, I don’t have a foggiest idea when they are season-wise. And even for Hahukah and Passover, I only know they started if the news told me so.
              If someone told me that I am scheduling something that falls on a holiday I would check. And reschedule. But I wouldn’t think “oh, it’s September, Rosh Hashanah is sometimes around now”, because I legitimately don’t know.

            8. Jewish librarian*

              Yeah, honestly it is ok if someone is unfamiliar with Jewish holidays or traditions. We’re 2% of the US and .2% of the world. It’s not offensive if someone is ignorant!

              What is offensive, however, is a stubborn and deliberate refusal to make even the slightest effort to accommodate a minority group (of any kind) once you learn of an issue. When someone says “I can’t do that date, it’s “Rosh Hashanah”, the correct response is to take a moment, google “Rosh Hashanah 2022”. Also, there are many guides out there for how to accommodate holidays in the workplace: the ADL has one called “School & Workplace Accommodations for the Jewish High Holidays”.

            9. Pikachu*

              I grew up in a small Midwestern town. There was no synagogue there growing up, but there is now. The next closest one is still about 60 miles away.

              I was not raised in a church, or with any religion at all. None of the kids/families in my immediate circle were, either. We celebrated Christmas because we just did, but there were no religious aspects to any of our family or neighborhood traditions.

              Most of growing up, religions (all of them) didn’t really exist to me other than abstract concepts in books. I never met a Jewish person until I got to college. I was in college before I ever saw a Catholic person walking around with ash on their forehead on Ash Wednesday, for that matter.

              I know these holidays exist now, but I was very much an adult when I learned and I still couldn’t tell you exactly when they all are or what they all mean without a bit of research.

              I’m willing to bet a LOT of people here were grown-ass adults when they first learned that Diwali was a holiday from an episode of The Office. The judgment is just unnecessary.

            10. KoiFeeder*

              I mean, I do live and grew up in the sticks, and we learned about Rosh Hashanah, Diwali, and others in Quaker school.

              Mind, I forgot immediately to hold more koi facts in my brain, but living in the sticks does not equate to ignorance! I’m just an idiot because I only have a certain amount of head space and I am filling it all with fish information.

          3. doreen*

            The CEO should have plainly said to reschedule , but to be honest, I would have assumed that he wanted it rescheduled without needing to investigate its importance because if he didn’t want it rescheduled , there’s no reason for him to mention it at all.

            1. Lea*

              I think this one is more of a political issue than a dei issue honestly. The ceo pretty planning made it known that the manager should reschedule and they didn’t.

            2. JM60*

              My read is that the OP did assume that the CEO wanted it scheduled so that he could attend, but they were approaching that rescheduling with the priority of, “Reschedule it if I can find a time that everyone can attend,” rather than, “This goodbye party is very important to the CEO, so reschedule it even if others can’t attend.”

              1. Jennifer Strange*

                I don’t think it was either of those, though. It was more “This goodbye part has been scheduled on a day that will exclude an entire group of employees due to religious reasons, so reschedule it because we’re trying to be better about promoting DEI” (maybe not that last part if the CEO really does get annoyed by talk of DEI, but it’s important to note since the OP brings it up themselves).

                1. JM60*

                  My point is that I think the OP was focused on the number of people would be available to attend on other dates, and not realizing how important it was to the CEO. I think they determined that the number of people who would be able to attend – regardless of the reason for their unavailability – was less than those who would be able to attend if they didn’t reschedule.

                2. Jennifer Strange*

                  Right, but that doesn’t make it okay? They were told by the CEO this was Rosh Hashanah and just shrugged it off. That’s not great, especially from someone who claims they want to push DEI at the organization.

                3. Lydia*

                  I think you’re being much kinder to the CEO than is warranted. The OP should have rescheduled, absolutely, because the CEO is probably not the only person it would affect. But if the CEO is only concerned with Jewish holidays because he’s Jewish, and he was so prickly about getting called out on his lack of DEI commitment, that is all sorts of a problem, too.

                4. JM60*

                  @Jennifer Strange

                  I never said the way the OP handled it was okay. I was only trying to explain OP’s possible interpretation of the FYI and their thought process.

                  The OP should’ve done their due diligence to reasonably accommodate the CEO and other Jewish members of that employer before sending out an email announcing that the schedule won’t be changed to accommodate Judaism.

                  —————————————————

                  Not my original point, but…

                  It may have been possible for this to fall outside of reasonable accommodation, though even then, the way they handled it still wasn’t right. Since they said, “It was the only time that worked for the relevant teams”, it’s possible that other dates/times would result in a greater number of people being unavailable. Although it’s never great to have people excluded on religious lines, if the options come down to a time when 5 people can’t attend due to religious reasons, or other times in which at least 10 people can’t attend due to scheduling conflicts other than religion, I think you can make a case that the larger number of people being excluded would make a rescheduling an unreasonable accommodation. But even then, the manner in which the OP went about this – mass emailing everyone about a decision without having gone through any interactive process – still isn’t okay.

          4. Haley*

            Why would it have been brought up if it wasn’t important? If I said to someone hey by the way this event is on Rosh Hashana, do you think I’m just sending you a fun fact? I’m just trying to politely remind you about something that should affect scheduling.

            1. JM60*

              I would’ve checked with him if it was important in this case, but not every FYI is equally important. If the FYI was instead “I’m going to be out of town for a cenvension that day”, I could see someone thinking that the CEO would prefer to attend this low-priority social event if possible, but not enough to schedule it on a day/time that some others can’t attend.

              1. Jennifer Strange*

                I would’ve checked with him if it was important in this case, but not every FYI is equally important

                Sure, but “FYI you’ve scheduled this on a major religious holiday that excludes a number of employees from attending” is important.

                1. JM60*

                  @Jennifer Strange

                  Haley pointed out that he wouldn’t have dropped the FYI if it wasn’t of some level of importance. The point of my reply is that “not every FYI is equally important”. Sometimes brief FYI’s or only of slight importance, sometimes they’re of much importance. My original point in the commend Haley responded to was that he shouldn’t have communicated via hint-dropping if it was of very high importance.

          5. Good for you I guess?*

            If you haven’t heard of one of the biggest holidays for a major world religion, you should take the time to double-check your dates if you’re in charge of scheduling team activities. If you are a manager you should do some more research in general. If you’re in a leadership position, it’s your responsibility to make sure you’re not excluding any of your employees by scheduling an event they’re not able to attend.

            If you’re not in a leadership position, then I guess not knowing much about cultures outside your own is just a you issue, but I don’t think it’s relevant data for what someone who IS in a leadership role should be expected to know or do

      7. So Tired*

        I get what you’re saying, but a quick look on my iPhone calendar tells me when Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are, along with other significant days like Holi, Diwali, Eid, Lunar New Year, etc. I didn’t put those into my calendar, and yet they’re there and marked so I can see them. If OP was looking at a calendar on their phone or computer–my computer calendar also lists them–it’s very likely they would have seen the marking for a religious holiday. Even if they weren’t aware how significant Rosh Hashanah is, a quick google would have told them and they could have picked a different date. It would have taken maybe ten minutes maximum to do this before scheduling the happy hour in the first place and all of this could have been avoided. I can see why the departing employee listed DEI as a concern, if an employee can’t take a few extra minutes to make sure they don’t schedule something on a major religious holiday. Even as an atheist myself, I grew up with high school football games and other events being rescheduled so they wouldn’t conflict with Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in the years that was an issue. I didn’t celebrate or really know what those days were about then, but having secular/public school events intentionally scheduled around it made it clear it’s a big deal. Of course the boss’ reaction was over the top and, as Allison said, likely a way for him to punish an employee who he was upset with. But that doesn’t change the fact that OP also messed up, first with the original scheduling and then again by not changing it.

        1. EmmaPoet*

          “I can see why the departing employee listed DEI as a concern, if an employee can’t take a few extra minutes to make sure they don’t schedule something on a major religious holiday.”

          And OP says they share these concerns, but their response to being told by the CEO that they’ve scheduled something on a major Jewish holiday is basically a shrug.

      8. nobadcats*

        On my work and personal calendars, there’s a way to add religious holidays. I have that filter installed on both for when I might need to make a meeting, especially since many of my contacts are in India.

        1. nobadcats*

          Oh, I should add that my grand boss is an observant Jewish person, so those holy days have become ingrained into my consciousness. I’m saying this as an Atheist, although I don’t mind the 5x days we get (for free!) for the Christian holiday of Christmas. That’s my time to read books and drink lots of hot chocolate.

      9. RagingADHD*

        The LW stated that their Jewish staff take vacation days to observe the holiday.

        They already know they have Jewish staff members. They already know their staff members take the day for observance.

        You may make hypothetical hand-flailing arguments about “how could anyone possibly know this very easily accessible information, that major cities routinely observe to schedule everything from official meetings to street cleaning and trash pickup?”

        But this situation isn’t hypothetical. The LW already knows.

      10. Hannah L*

        Some calendars have holidays already listed on them. I just checked and Google Calendar doesn’t have Rosh Hashanah (they do have other holidays, not sure why this one isn’t on there), but iCalendar on the iPhone does.

        I get that it might not be someone’s first inclination to google upcoming holidays, but if you’re someone who uses any sort of digital calendar chances are it’s already listed there.

      1. No apples and honey 4 u*

        Regardless, think about how it reads to Jewish staff members, of whom OP acknowledges there are some. As a Jewish person, I’m rubbed the wrong way and it’s not even my workplace.

        1. Despachito*

          What is rubbing you the wrong way?

          OP, after making the first mistake, ASKED whether they were OK with it, and was totally willing to reschedule had they had any problem with it. And the company-wide policy DOES NOT acknowledge these dates, so it seems very hypocritical from the CEO to suddenly remember it was an important Jewish holiday when he has no problem making his staff come and work on it?

          If something is disrespecting the Jewish religion, it is this company-wide policy, not OP’s actions.

          1. Shana Tova*

            Seeing as how most Jews who have even one iota of connection with Judaism would do something for Rosh Hashanah, I seriously doubt that the CEO ‘suddenly remembered’ that it was happening on that day.

            1. Shana Tova*

              Also Jews don’t care if you, or anyone else, works on Rosh Hashanah. There’s no expectation that this should necessarily be a day away from work for everyone. But it is an important day for Jews.

              1. Despachito*

                I get your point.

                I understand that observing Jews would want (and in a decent company, get) a day (or several days, I am not familiar with how many exactly would they need) days away from work for their holiday. And I also understand that if there are Jews in OP’s company, they are not getting this.

                I would read this as:
                1) either the company does not care (they asked and were denied, which would mean this is an awful company policy)
                2) they themselves do not care (people can technically belong to a religion but not be religious at all).

                Neither of the above would be OP’s problem, and if the Jewish employees normally work during the holiday, I would find it unreasonable for OP to be scathed because of planning an event on that day.

                1. Jennifer Strange*

                  Except that the OP is framing themselves as a champion for DEI efforts. If they’re going to do that (and I think they should!) then making sure they’re not excluding folks on a religious basis is a no-brainer. Also, the OP isn’t being scathed because of planning an event that day, but because when it wasn’t pointed out to them they doubled down.

                2. Stevie*

                  I don’t consider the issue to be having scheduled it on that day in the first place. I think the real problem is that OP was told there is a religious holiday on that date and proceeded anyways.

          2. Medium Sized Manager*

            Because of the response. “Well it’s not a day we get off, so why should it matter.” This is a day where, even if I wanted, I wouldn’t be able to attend a happy hour, and her response was basically “aw shucks say goodbye a different time, we’re not required by DEI to move it.” I understand the CEO being a real jerk affected the response, but as a Jewish person, it’s salt in the wound.

            1. ShanShan*

              It reminds me of that question a few years ago about how much someone needed to accommodate people’s dietary restrictions at employee appreciation events, where Alison’s response was basically “the whole goal of this event is to make people feel appreciated and cared for, and if you’re not willing to do that, the event becomes a bit pointless.”

              Like, the company didn’t have to schedule a happy hour at all. But they did, presumably at some difficulty and expense, and the reason why they bothered was to make employees feel cared for and supported by the company. You can’t really have that be the whole point of the event and then start griping about things like needing to schedule around holidays.

              1. Lea*

                Didn’t letter writer state the company wasn’t paying for this?

                Work events and work adjacent events are different to me

                1. Jennifer Strange*

                  That still doesn’t make it okay to exclude a group of people based on religion, whether intentional or not. And it’s especially not a good look for the OP who has been talking about how they need to be better at promoting DEI.

                2. ShanShan*

                  I mean, in some ways, but not in terms of purpose. Both are ultimately meant to make employees feel cared for and happy for retention purposes, so my point stands equally well for both.

          3. Shana tova*

            just another perspective,. as an observant jew if a happy hour was scheduled on rosh Hashanah I wouldn’t say anything I’d shrug my shoulders and move on. it’s such a standard thing to be overlooked I’d never speak up not wanting to make waves.
            if I was asked as an afterthought Id probably say don’t worry about it. or possibly thanks so much.

            I can’t speak for others but I’m nervous about making waves and getting the wrath of someone for ruining the fun

            1. Observer*

              Exactly this. Most observant Jews reserve the things they speak up about for the stuff that they need. It’s a matter of picking your battles.

              Like my mother never said anything ever about when parties where scheduled. Because she needed to be able to push back on being pressured to work Holy days, late on winter Fridays (when Sabbath comes in early) and ON Saturday on one occasion. She needed to keep her relationships with people good, so she never ever complained about anything that was optional.

            2. EmmaPoet*

              Good point. It’s not fun being the person who gets seen as ruining it for everyone else, and guess who gets the backlash?

          4. Observer*

            OP, after making the first mistake, ASKED whether they were OK with it, and was totally willing to reschedule had they had any problem with it.

            That’s not true – you are making stuff up. The only person they asked was the DEI director, who is either incompetent or excludes Jews from the umbrella of DEI. Neither one is OK.

            1. idontplaygames*

              Yes. I’m not even Jewish, and I think my big issue with these comments is that Rosh Hashanah is being perceived as some niche holiday because it’s not Christmas or something of the like. If I re-read this and replace every instance of Rosh Hashanah with “Christmas,” everything here would be unacceptable.

              Ex. I unknowingly scheduled a happy hour for Christmas. Someone alerted me it was Christmas. I then asked DEI and my colleagues if it was okay to do a happy hour on Christmas. They said it was fine. I said, “Sorry, everybody, we’re having happy hour on Christmas. If that’s a problem for you, we can set up your own 1:1 goodbye with this person. So sorry.”

          5. Jennifer Strange*

            OP, after making the first mistake, ASKED whether they were OK with it, and was totally willing to reschedule had they had any problem with it.

            No, they didn’t. They suggested another time for the CEO to say his goodbyes (apart from the shindig), then sent an email to everyone essentially stating that the date was set. There was no willingness to reschedule until after they were called out by the CEO.

        2. KateM*

          And think whether a regular Jewish employee would dare to raise a similar issue after OP has blown off *CEO*.

          1. EmmaPoet*

            I wouldn’t. OP has already ignored the CEO saying, hey, this is a problem, why would I think they’d listen to me?

      2. idontplaygames*

        It honestly does not matter what the CEO’s intentions are. The fact is that it’s a major holiday. Move your happy hour. That’s it.

    4. Hats Are Great*

      OMG, OP, DO NOT SCHEDULE ANYTHING ON ROSH HASHANAH.

      Or Yom Kippur.

      I am not Jewish and do not celebrate those holidays, but my kids get them off from school because we live in a Jewish community. My grandboss wanted to schedule something on Rosh Hashanah and I said, “Oh, I can’t do it that day, my kids are off of school for Rosh Hashanah” and my grandboss APOLOGIZED PROFUSELY and scheduled it another day.

      Grandboss later thanked me for speaking up, in case anyone on our team who is Jewish didn’t feel comfortable complaining about meetings scheduled on Rosh Hashanah. (We are a remote team with many different local calendars.) I grew up here, so to me, the High Holy Days have always been days where the world stops and nothing happens. But during college and grad school, I definitely spent a lot of time explaining to people what the High Holy Days are and why they should not schedule things!

    5. Playing With Puppies And Kittens All Day*

      Agree – I’d be slightly miffed by the original scheduling, but definitely feel disrespected by the intentional choice not to reschedule once it was brought up.

      1. Despachito*

        But you would have been given the chance to speak up and say you observe this holiday (OP says they sent a company-wide mail asking for that), and if you did, you would be heard.

        There are no observing Jews around me I know of, and it would be meaningless to not schedule anything on a Jewish holiday even if there is no one who would mind.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Yes, you would’ve been given the chance to speak up and be the one who ruined it for everyone else. It’s a crappy situation. An org with a dedicated DEI head shouldn’t operate on “well if no one’s going to be a squeaky wheel go ahead.”

          What does it matter that there are no observant Jews near you? There are some at OP’s org, which is what we’re discussing.

        2. Cmdrshpard*

          But when the CEO has already pointed out it is a major holiday and the response wasn’t immediately let’s move but rather, “does anyone have a problem with this?” it sends the message “we will move it if we have to but we don’t really want to, so does anyone have a problem?” If the CEO couldn’t get it moved why would a lower employee be able to get it moved, better not make waves.

          1. Despachito*

            But OP’s response was logical given the wording of the CEO’s reply.

            If someone tells me “Are you aware that this date is a holiday for Religion X?”, and the date was already difficult to find, it makes perfect sense to check beforehand whether there really is someone who observes this holiday and would prefer to reschedule it. And it was not very clear that the CEO is that person.

              1. Myrin*

                I think by “the date was already difficult to find”, Despachito meant “the date we would hold the happy hour”, not “the date of Rosh Hashanah”.

            1. Oxford Comma*

              We have Google. It’s not that hard. The CEO mentions Rosh Hashanah, you go and look it up. Heck, Google offers a canned search “What is Rosh Hashanah when and why is it celebrated?” And when I click on it, without me even having to go to another web page, it says “Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is one of Judaism’s holiest days”

              It’s not like the old days where you’d have to go find a print encyclopedia.

            2. ferrina*

              Not necessarily. You’re saying that all you need to do is wait until someone complains, then you’ll change. But the truth is that most people won’t feel safe complaining. There’s plenty of people that will still discriminate, or make uncomfortable jokes, or just be a jerk because of religion.

              The I in DEI is for Inclusivity. Inclusivity means taking reasonable steps to make sure all people feel comfortable and safe and able to participate in the company (and company-related events), not waiting until someone complains then reluctantly changing. This means taking the first step. This means thinking ahead about how you can ensure equality (like ensuring that all religions can participate in a company event). Things will be inconveniently scheduled, but the inconvenience shouldn’t be due to religion, ethnicity, race, sex or gender- that is just another form of discrimination.

              If this means rescheduling an event, well, that’s really not a lot to ask.

            3. Jennifer Strange*

              it makes perfect sense to check beforehand whether there really is someone who observes this holiday and would prefer to reschedule it.

              But the OP didn’t even do that, they just sent an email saying the date was set and that anyone who couldn’t make it due to religious reasons could say goodbye another day.

        3. ShanShan*

          No one is going to say that they mind, whether they mind or not. We’re all already stressed about being penalized for taking the day off. Nobody is going to stick their necks out further for a party they can just skip.

        4. Observer*

          But you would have been given the chance to speak up and say you observe this holiday (OP says they sent a company-wide mail asking for that), and if you did, you would be heard.

          Not true. A company wide email saying “This is the only date that works, but if you want to you can contact me and I’ll look into this” is not a chance to speak up. It’s a performative statement that no reasonable person who has been in this situation will take seriously.

          Keep in mind that the OP said in the email that they aren’t open to changing the date but would set up an alternative for anyone who couldn’t show up. Given that, no one is going to speak up. The people on the “relevant teams” have been informed that this is “what works”, so if they speak up now and force a change, they know they will be seen that the person “who spoiled it for everyone”. And everyone else is not going to be interested in a second class “alternative” event.

        5. Playing With Puppies And Kittens All Day*

          What expectation could I, a random employee, possibly have of being heard if the CEO was completely blown off?

          Members of minority groups shouldn’t have to continuously come forward and assert their needs to be accommodated – that’s why the company has hired a director of DEI. However in this case one member of this religious minority already did speak up, and was blown off.

          You seem certain that you would behave the same way as OP and you would not be in the wrong – but in your scenario, there is not a Jewish employee (the CEO) who has already pointed out the conflict. There is no comparison.

    6. Justme, The OG*

      I’m also an atheist and when I read when OP had scheduled a happy hour I actually recoiled. Lack of a belief in a higher power isn’t an excuse for not knowing when important holidays are.

    7. L-squared*

      I think it depends on a lot. How many Jewish people are there? Was there a viable alternative that worked for the person leaving, who the party was really for. Also, are there no meetings allowed to be scheduled that day either? As this is an optional, out of work thing, celebrating a person leaving, I don’t really think its that big of a deal

      1. Covered in Bees*

        You don’t think it’s a big deal because you aren’t the one being excluded from social events. Even when it’s not scheduled to exclude, it can feel like a huge shrug at “we don’t care if you attend.” Especially in offices where social events indicate whether you’re “part of the team”. Sometimes scheduling on holidays that aren’t Christian is unavoidable. Adding a note somewhere acknowledging this and saying it was unavoidable makes a huge difference.

        1. L-squared*

          I don’t know that unavoidable has to be the standard though. Again, this is a party for someone leaving. Surely what is most convenient for them should matter. Also, being that its a going away party, it is likely one one of their last work days anyway. If his last day fell on one of those holidays, the people taking off wouldn’t be able to see him either.

          Unfortunately, everyone can’t go to everything. People who have child care schedules may not be able to go either because they have to pick up their kid. Doesn’t mean it needs to be rescheduled. That is just something that happens.

          As a “Christian” I can also say that, even though I don’t practice, if someone had a party on Good Friday or something, that wouldn’t bother me either.

          1. doreen*

            Well, if you don’t practice , there’s really no reason why a party held on Good Friday should bother you. But individual circumstances such as childcare pickup and evening classes are very different from holidays – there are plenty of jobs that require at least some people to work Christmas and Thanksgiving and Easter but no one would schedule going out after work for a goodbye happy hour on those days.

          2. fish*

            Why are you all over this thread arguing that people don’t inherently have to be respectful to Jewish colleagues? Sure, it may be your right. But you don’t have to exercise it.

            1. L-squared*

              I think the problem and where you and I see it differently is that its not to me about disrespecting anyone, its about a party for 1 person and whether or not their convenience should take precedence or not. I don’t think that, if this is the most convenient day for the guest of honor, that its necessarily disrespectful to those who can’t make it, as this is a social event, not a mandatory work one.

              To me, that isn’t disrespect, its prioritizing certain people. So if the party was a general work team happy hour, I’d completely have a different take than a party for an individual leaving.

              1. Oxford Comma*

                Yes, it’s prioritizing people. In this case, it’s prioritizing non-Jewish people. And whether or not it’s an official event, it’s an event at which informal networking will occur, because that’s what happens at these send offs. So now Jewish employees miss out on that. They also miss out on the chance to send off their colleague.

                Let’s say this event was scheduled for Christmas Eve. Would you see the problem then? Even if you aren’t religious or are an atheist, would you schedule something for Christmas Eve? I am guessing you would not. This is the same thing.

                It’s also like the myriad questions that get posted here when there are work events that take place for men only, or involve extreme sports, or golf, or girls weekends. Those organizers are also excluding people. Just as wrong in this instance as in those.

                1. L-squared*

                  If Christmas Eve was the day that worked best for the person leaving, I may go or not go based on my own availability, but wouldn’t demand that they reschedule it or think they are being disrespectful about it. I would think that is the best day for them.

                  Now if I did that, I’d also think they didn’t really want a lot of people there, which is also their choice. But I do think the person being celebrated should have priority. Its like someone else said, this is more akin to someone having a birthday party on a high holy day. I can’t imagine people being mad at them for that and expecting them to reschedule.

                  I think the problem comes down to whether or not people consider this a work event or not and how much responsibility there is to be inclusive.

                2. Jennifer Strange*

                  @L-Squared If an organization is trying to be better about their DEI commitment (as the OP wants them to) then that means making sure you’re not excluding folks. You’ve said elsewhere that you’re Christian, so it’s really gross that you’re telling folks who are Jewish that exclusions they face regularly aren’t important.

                3. SpaceySteph*

                  You’ve never once had to contemplate this seriously because it wouldn’t ever happen in the western world. And sure if it happened once it probably wouldn’t be a big deal but this happens to Jews all. the. time. A chorus of Jews are telling you this would bother them and you’re deliberately speaking over them. It’s gross.

          3. Just Your Everyday Crone*

            A lot of people commenting in this thread are not understanding how onerous it is to expect a religious minority to speak up about a holy day. Nobody wants to be the ONE person who has to veto a party. Plenty of people would not raise it and then decline to go based on some other excuse. If someone scheduled something for Good Friday and another person raised it, the response would be “oh, of course, it’s Good Friday.” NonChristians have good reason to fear that the response WON’T be “oh, of course, it’s high holy days,” but, “Oh, man, Rebecca is ruining things.”

          4. Happy meal with extra happy*

            I’m a non-religious Jew who doesn’t really do anything for the holidays and will generally work those holidays. The company’s/OP’s attitude extremely bothers me because I know that when crap goes down, whether or not I’m going to synagogue for Yom Kippur isn’t going to matter in the slightest for all levels of anti-semites out there.

        2. lunchtime caller*

          Maybe they don’t care if you can attend, but I don’t see why that’s a big deal. I feel like this comment section is often sensitive to the feeling that they may not be the star of the show at any given moment, and in fact people may be indifferent to their presence (nice if you can make it, but no one’s broken up if you’re not in the crowd of twenty people going). That’s something to care about with actual friends, not colleagues who you only see because you happen to work in the same box. I would never in my life expect a happy hour held for someone else as the guest of honor to be catering to MY schedule, be it because of a holiday or a death in the family or simply conflicting schedules.

          1. L-squared*

            This is exactly it. This is a work party for an individual. If certain people can’t make it, its probably not going to matter much to that individual

            1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

              That’s the same argument they make when all of the social events are planned around golf.

            2. DataSci*

              It matters to the people who are being excluded *because of their religion*. It’s different from someone not being able to make it because they’re out that day or have childcare duties or something else individual to them.

              And it doesn’t necessarily matter because a work happy hour is so important. It matters because it’s not the first, last, or only time that their workplace failed to be aware of one of the most important holidays in their religion before scheduling a one-time event. (Recurring meetings and business-as-usual are different. Yeah, the biweekly meeting my colleagues in London scheduled is going to have an occurrence on US Thanksgiving. It would be different if it was a one-time all-hands.)

              1. Happy meal with extra happy*

                Yeah. I like work social events, and if one is scheduled over an important holiday for me, I’m going to be bummed and upset on a larger scale, and not just as if I had another conflict and couldn’t go.

            3. Lydia*

              It seems a little…out of step when the person you claim to be concerned for was actually bothered by the lack of commitment to DEI. Even they would probably want to be respectful of the date being Rosh Hashanah.

          2. ShanShan*

            The whole point of this conversation is that the party is excluding a group of people based on religion (in a way that is also linked to race), not excluding a single individual.

          3. Irish Teacher*

            I think it’s the clear difference that means it bothers people. If nobody’s religion was acknowledged, that would be different, but when most Christians have their workplace literally shut down for a number of their holidays (heck, in Ireland, little is done from Christmas until after the New Year; it isn’t unusual for businesses to finish early on Christmas Eve and then not reopen until the 2nd or 3rd of January) but people of other religions not only have to use their time off for their holidays but also miss out on events like this…well, that does seem like a bit of a double standard.

        3. anonymath*

          Yep (agreeing with Covered in Bees, disagreeing with sibling commenters like L-squared).

          There’s a huge range of observance among Christians/people brought up Christian. Atheists brought up Christian who looooove Christmas, Quakers who don’t observe these holidays because they don’t reflect the holiness of each day, folks who are culturally Christian and feel waxing and waning attachment to the religious observance. We all get Christmas off anyway. Why not just… not schedule things on Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur/Eid? I have them in my calendar and I don’t particularly care to hear anyone’s personal approach to religious observance, I’ll just try my best to skip scheduling on them. I don’t really care about the full range, just as I don’t really care about whether you’re vegan but take fish oil or whatever, I just know I should have a vegan dish at the potluck because it sets a good baseline for everyone.

      2. acmx*

        I agree. OP said the time worked for the two teams involved. That’s the group that matters, not the whole company. Especially as this is an optional event.

        And if the CEO was truly bothered by anything scheduled on a Jewish holiday, he would make it so the company did not work on Jewish holidays!

        1. No apples and honey 4 u*

          It’s not about anything scheduled on a Jewish holiday. It’s about excluding Jews from a social and networking opportunity.

          1. lunchtime caller*

            That doesn’t feel a little weird to you? To take an event made to celebrate and send well wishes toward a very specific someone and focus on YOUR social and networking opportunities there? I just can’t imagine looking at a party/gathering for someone else and starting a conversation about how to make it work for me. This is all valuable information for general work events going forward but feels increasingly off topic from the specific issue at hand.

            1. doreen*

              It doesn’t seem weird to me and that’s most likely because I cannot imagine a similar event being held on Christmas , not even if the honoree and most of the attendees were not Christian. Of course, part of the reason for that is because these events are typically held on workdays and Christmas has never been a workday at any job I’ve had. So we Christmas celebrators don’t need to worry about being excluded because of our religion.

            2. Jewish librarian*

              I’ll be honest, this really sounds like just another iteration of someone responding to Jews saying something is problematic for them with “there you go again, making it all about you.”

              This is why we want (functional) DEI initiatives in workplaces – so that there isn’t the chilling effect on minority employees who don’t want their coworkers to resent them for advocating for themselves.

          2. acmx*

            I don’t see a happy hour for a leaving employee as a networking opportunity.

            My view of a happy hour for a person leaving the company is that it’s really for those closest, work-wise, to the departing employee.

            1. Lea*

              Same. If this doesn’t affect the employee leaving or the core team they work with I would not consider anyone excluded.

              If it does, then that’s a different story.

              You cannot schedule a happy hour that will work for an entire company. But it was very stupid of op not to reschedule when the ceo brought it up

    8. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I don’t want to derail, but what are the two dates you mention? Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur? My experience with Jewish staff and working with Jewish organizations is that they take a number of days off in the fall (which my staff are all granted and paid for) so I just kind of want to tune my antenna to which ones are especially significant.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Rosh Hashanah starts the evening of Sept 25 (so Sept. 26), starting a 10-day period of penitence that ends with Yom Kippur on Oct 5.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Those are the “high holy days” of the Jewish calendar; there are certainly other meaningful holidays but those are the big ones.

          2. DataSci*

            That’s this year. They move around, but are always in September or October, so it’s a good idea to check when scheduling major events this time of year.

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              I download a Jewish holiday calendar every year, but I tend to be impacted by both the major and minor holidays in terms of making allowances for employees and clients so relative significance gets a little confused in my head.

              1. Observer*

                The absolute “biggies” and Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur (early fall, generally), and Passover, generally early spring. Major (which will be taken by most observant Jews) are Succot (right after Yom Kippur) and Shavuot (which is the least well known). Most of these days are days that Orthodox Jews cannot work. (Passover and Succot are over a week long and while it’s preferable not to work over the entire holiday, if necessary, it’s permissible to work on the middle days.)

                The minors are mainly Chanukah and Purim. There are others, but these are the two that have significant observances. And these two have a presence in the US that’s well above their significance in Judaism because of the proximity or *perceived* similarity to other non-Jewish holidays.

                Then there are the fasts. The most important one being Tisha BeAve, which tends to fall in August. Most Othodox people try to avoid working on that day, not just because they are fasting.

              2. Juror No. 7*

                Would like to recommend Hebcal dot com since you can generate a calendar specific to you area (important for including sundown information) and include major and minor holidays and fasts.
                Observer does a really great job breaking down the holidays and their impact for observant Jews.

    9. M2*

      The all staff email wasn’t great, but antisemitism is real and alive and MANY DEI people leave out Jews as we have seen here!

      You talk about how you think DEI is important but you don’t think it includes Jewish people?

      I hope your organization gets a new DEI director ! Your CEO told you it was over a religious holiday and you went to the DEI director who did not know how important this holiday is?! You could have circled back or done your own research, but here you are deflecting and taking none of the blame in this situation.

      Also reading these comments are really concerning to me. If this type of situation happened to a different people commenters would be all over the LW but because it involved the Jewish religion I don’t see the same support. (I am not Jewish) but I am very concerned about anti Jewish sentiment in this country.

      1. fish*

        Great point that has not been previously pointed out here.

        The OP thinks DEI is so important and is upset the company isn’t doing more, but is absolutely doubling down on their own DEI snafu.

        OP, you’re just replicating what you see.

      2. Angelica*

        Thank you for this reply. As a Jewish person, I’m unfortunately not surprised but still really disheartened to read some of these comments.

        My first job out of college was at a university, and me and my boss worked with students. She and her counterpart scheduled the first student committee meeting of the year on RH. I pointed out the date and said I would not be able to attend, and they should consider moving it in case it affected any of the students. She thanked me for bringing it up and said they probably should move it. When I brought it up the next week and asked about the date, she said her counterpart said “it wasn’t a big deal” and they weren’t moving the meeting. This was at a top-tier university on the east cost.

      3. Ari*

        Agreed. I’m not Jewish either but anyone with an ounce of empathy and a desire to see things from different perspectives would understand what’s wrong with this whole situation.

      4. EmmaPoet*

        Thank you. I was not surprised by the comments, but it is appreciated that someone who isn’t Jewish is also calling it out.

      5. Velociraptor Attack*

        I’m really hung up on the fact that the OP and the departing employee are both supposedly concerned about DEI efforts at the company but clearly have zero concerns about this situation. Even as someone who is not Jewish, I find that really concerning.

    10. Erin*

      I read the situation as the OP being unaware that anyone on the invite list celebrated the holiday. They mention it is standard practice in their office for employees celebrating non-Christian holidays to take a vacation day on their respective holidays. If the OP went into all of the calendars of the attendees to find a workable date, and the CEO had not yet blocked out the day, it is reasonable to conclude that the organizer was unaware.

      Definitely a fail for the OP & DEI officer for not doing a little digging to see if anyone who is invited celebrates the holiday before sending the invite. But, also, a pretty over the top reaction from the CEO.

      1. Angelica*

        The original scheduling was a mistake, but neither OP or the DEI officer (!!) acted appropriately after the holiday conflict was pointed out.

    11. Penny Pingleton*

      What I see going on here is the CEO negating LW’s DEI critiques by actively pointing out that LW doesn’t understand DEI. I agree with Alison’s take that the CEO’s response is spiteful, but I also think it goes beyond that. The CEO is calling out both LW and DEI director out as hypocrites on the “E” and “I” dimensions of DEI. Equity means you treat all religious holidays the same; Inclusion means you do you best to make sure no one is blocked from the event. LW and departing colleague told CEO he’s blind to certain DEI issues. He’s throwing that back in their faces big time and legitimately. He’s saying you can’t have it both ways—accuse the company of poor DEI and then only apply that equity and inclusion to some groups but not others. Tbh, I would probably do the same thing the CEO did. At the very least, they need a new DEI director.

  2. goddessoftransitory*

    I didn’t know they scheduled so many interviews for cults now, LW3!

    Seriously, though, that is creepy.

    1. B.I.M.*

      Sounds like the two-hour “in-depth” interview is to kick start the indoctrination. Creepy and a bit scary.

      1. The OTHER other*

        It reminds me of EST, which technically no longer exists but still seems to crop up in various forms of seminars, and I guess now interview techniques.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      In its way, it’s helpful that they are putting this condition up front rather than suggesting that it will perpetually take just one more interview.

      1. KRM*

        It is fortunate that they said this up-front, so LW didn’t show up for the last interview and feel blindsided by all the personal questions. Interesting that they were that up-front though, as I’d think a lot of people would quickly self-select right out of that, realizing that it’s not normal or helpful. They’re probably looking for people who feel they have few options, unfortunately, who might say “well I got all the way to this interview, and I spent a lot of time, I must be a finalist and I need a job”.

    3. Gothxbrooks*

      I’m the person who submitted that, the recruiters response to me that got sent after I had already emailed Allison confirmed it was a…. Very weird vibe at this company. This is why I always ask about the hiring process in first interviews cause I would have been shook participating unaware.

  3. Aunt Bee's Pickles*

    LW 1 sounds rather bigoted to me. There are plenty of businesses that are required to work on Christmas and Easter. I’d bet my last dollar she wouldn’t have scheduled a Happy Hour on either of those days.

          1. Mid*

            Cluelessness is scheduling it, bigotry is finding ways to justify keeping it scheduled because the OP doesn’t find value in respecting Jewish holidays, and the DEI officer agreeing that keeping a drinking event/party on an important Jewish holiday isn’t a big issue, despite being told by the CEO, who is Jewish, that it’s inappropriate. Cluelessness ends when you double down after being informed of your mistake.

            1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

              Cluelessness ends when you double down after being informed of your mistake.

              Thiiiiiiiiiiiiisssssssssss

    1. hamburke*

      Easter is on a Sunday – atypical for scheduling a work happy hour – and Christmas is the same date every year and has become rather secular and hard to avoid at least in the US.

      but I’ve accidentally scheduled stuff on federal secular holidays. I usually key in to 4th of July but Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Presidents Day? I try to put my kids on a bus that never arrives every year. and I’ve tried to schedule work meetings on Thanksgiving only to be reminded of the holiday.

      1. Happy meal with extra happy*

        Christmas is not secular, Christmas is not secular, Christmas is not secular, Christmas is not secular, Christmas is not secular.

      2. Observer*

        Can we STOP with the “Christmas is secular” nonsense? It’s just not the case, and the insistence that it is and therefore is inclusive to other religions (especially for Jews, for whom it’s generally a real issue) is tone deaf and very alienating.

        1. Susanne*

          Except for some people Christmas is secular. You don’t get to tell people how they feel about holidays they celebrate. I can celebrate Hanukah as commemorating the re-dedication of the Temple by the Maccabees with the appropriate religious seriousness, or I can celebrate Hanukah as a holiday where I give the kids chocolate gelt and play dreidel. I can observe Yom Kippur as a serious fast where I atone for my sins of the past year, or I can choose to eat light meals and have a yummy break-the-fast with friends and family because grandma makes a great kugel. I can celebrate Easter as the re-birth of Christ our lord and savior, or I can celebrate Easter as bunnies and chocolate eggs in baskets. You don’t get to tell me what my interpretation of any of these things is. You don’t have the copyright on them.

          1. Jewish librarian*

            No one is saying anything about individual obsesrvance of holidays, and no one really cares about your choices in observance either. The point is that christmas cannot be divorced from its Christian origins. This is not an individual-level analysis, it requires a systemic analysis. Try to see the bigger picture here.

          2. Happy meal with extra happy*

            Hanukah, Yom Kippur, Easter, etc. are all religious holidays, and if you think otherwise, your interpretation of them is wrong. It doesn’t matter how you celebrate them/what activities you do on them, they’re religious holidays.

            Further, trying to use Jewish holidays as an example/counter to those who consider Christmas secular is missing the big picture point. I’ve met and talked with countless people who are shocked when I tell them that I don’t do anything for Christmas because I’m Jewish. It’s exceedingly problematic that Christmas is just seen as the “norm” and secular when it’s explicitly not.

          3. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

            Wow, what an unnecessarily hostile response. Your personal observance choices absolutely do not overwrite the history and general societal observance of the holiday as a religious one. And I say this as someone who is not religious and celebrates a non-Christian version of December 25th myself because I just really like the whole aesthetic and festive themes. Me choosing to change the meaning of the day for myself on a personal level doesn’t scale to anyone else.

          4. Jennifer Strange*

            I am someone who celebrates Christmas in the secular sense. I love the decorations, trees, music, traditions – all of it – but I don’t go to church or observe it in a religious sense. But it is still 100% a religious holiday. The fact that I focus on the non-religious portions of it doesn’t change that, and I am still cognizant of that when I’m interacting with others.

    2. Peter*

      If this was happening where I work (in the UK if that helps) the afterwork drinks would be on the employee’s last day, whenever that occurred.
      I also wouldn’t particularly worry about holidays etc that day, unless I already knew that a significant group were never available on Friday evenings, or were religiously unable to go to a pub.
      In that case we’d probably have a sober lunch together instead in the last week.
      So in answer to Aunt Bee’s comment, I’d take that bet if the workplace were open on Good Friday and it was the last day of the working week for someone.

  4. Observer*

    OP, I want to point something out. Your CEO was very wrong in how he handled the situation. But you messed up in a fairly significant way.

    Firstly, you handed the CEO a perfect opportunity to cut down your DEI attempts. Fortunately his over-the-top response means that he won’t really succeed. As much as you (rightfully!) don’t like his reaction, if you are actually serious about DEI, then it’s a bit of good news though. Because had he been more measured in his response, it would probably have resonated pretty seriously with some people. With this kind of outburst though, most people are not going to take his comments too seriously.

    More seriously, what happened here highlights a serious hole in the scope of your DEI concerns. You scheduled an event without checking if there would be any potential issues for anyone who actually practices a religion other than Christianity. And, the fact that it’s a happy hour makes it WORSE than the company’s current policy on work. Because at least with work you can theoretically take the day and make it up. But with an event, either you show up on the planned date, or forgo.

    Then, when the CEO called you on it you officially apologized, but you also essentially blew him off. The fact that your DEI Director didn’t see a problem doesn’t mean there wasn’t a problem, it just means that they have some significant gaps in their definition of DEI.

    I’m not giving the CEO a pass here. But I think that if you are serious about the issue, it’s important to realize that this really IS a big deal.

    1. Hitch*

      The CEO felt attacked at the meeting. Something came up that they could attack someone back about – and they did. The OP seriously misread the room on the first occasion when dealing with a CEO looking for payback.

      1. Cmdrshpard*

        But OP did more than misread the situation, OP claimed they shared concerns about the companies DEI and brought it up to higher management. But then went on and behaved in a anti-DEI way.

    2. TransmascJourno*

      You phrased this so much more perfectly than I did. (I also feel like there are some “religious freedom” dogwhistles with regards to a very, very false equivalency. As in, the LW’s response to the CEO’s behavior is evidentiary supported vis a vis Rosh Hashanah, even though it’s a holiday celebrated by a minority group which has experienced a dangerous uptick in hate crimes within the past six years.)

    3. MEH Squared*

      All of this, OP#1. Your report talked about DEI issues, which you agreed with. You then scheduled their going away drinks for a major Jewish holiday. When you got called out on it, instead of apologizing sincerely and moving the date, you doubled down on it and made excuses why it happened and how it wasn’t a big deal, anyway.

      I understand the impulse to defend and deflect, but this is almost a classic example of instinctively saying, “I’m not a ___ist, but….” There’s no shame in not knowing it was Rosh Hashanah, but once it was pointed out, it behooved you to change the date.

      If you truly care about DEI, then you cannot just brush this aside. Your CEO was being a jerk, but he wasn’t wrong about his complaint.

      1. Caroline+Bowman*

        But they didn’t make excuses, they went and asked everyone involved about alternative dates and were literally told this was a good date for all concerned. Only the CEO didn’t like it, and knowing that he’s a spiteful, passive-aggressive dick, one with power over me, I’d have rescheduled, but she took what he said literally and then got screamed at publicly for that.

        There was no win here. Whatever OP had done, you can rest assured it would have been the subject of a tirade.

        1. Nephron*

          Except even a jerk is right when telling someone the schedule does not work based on religion. Scheduling on Christmas because it was the best date would not fly, but the Jewish holiday does which is a bad look. As others pointed out, if the CEO cannot get consideration what would a lower level employee expect if they have a schedule conflict with a religious event?

          1. ecnaseener*

            +1 maybe there’s no avoiding a tirade, but there’s living up to your purported values and this wasn’t it.

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              Yep. How this was handled sends a message to everyone that DEI concerns will be ignored and glossed over. Sure, the CEO should have been nicer about it – but also he’s the CEO. If he raises a DEI concern and it gets glossed over, what is everyone else going to expect?

          2. Irish Teacher*

            Yup, the aim shouldn’t be “to keep the CEO from throwing a hissy fit.” It should be “to create an inclusive environment and to ensure everybody has the opportunity to say ‘goodbye’ to the employee who is leaving.”

                1. Happy meal with extra happy*

                  :D In the same vein:

                  “It’s too difficult to figure out important holidays for other religions? How can we ever do so?”
                  “There are many free DEI calendars available for you to download, add to your Calendar, etc.”
                  “So difficult and impossible! Nothing we can do!”

        2. Observer*

          they went and asked everyone involved about alternative dates and were literally told this was a good date for all concerned.

          No they didn’t. They doubled down on the date and then told everyone in an office-wide email that they aren’t changing the date, but if someone has a problem “Let me know and we’ll find you an alternative”.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I think LW should consider the possibility that the CEO is dismissive of the DEI stuff because it has in fact been executed poorly.

      1. Jackalope*

        I mean, that might be the case for other employees, but this is the CEO. If they want to embrace DEI initiatives, they are the person with the most power to do so. Most likely, much more than the OP. Not to comment on this specific situation, but the CEO doesn’t get to complain if the company they’re part of isn’t doing a good enough job in this area if they haven’t been trying to make it better in this area.

    5. CowWhisperer*

      Yeah, moving a going away party 48 hours earlier is plenty easy enough. I live in a rural, not very interested in diversity awareness area – and the local business calendars given away as swag have Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Eid and Chinese New Year on them. This isn’t a hard set of holidays to find.

      The kindest spin to my eyes is that the culture between the executives as a group has devolved into a very petty tit-for-tat and that the most recent snafu is mostly about two groups trying score points against each other and DEI just happens to be the current subject of argument.

      I’m side-eyeing the DEI group because the request to move the party was reasonable.

      I’m side-eyeing the CEO because I’m always cynical of people who disdain equal support for marginalized groups except the marginalized group they belong to.

      That’s my hangup from years of struggling to get equitable support for my invisible disability (or watching my deaf sister fight the same battles) only to see people openly disdainful of ADAA use it happily when they personally have an acute, time limited off-work injury to get way more accomodations faster than the rest of us.

      1. Ray Gillette*

        Yeah, where I fall here is the CEO is a hypocrite and a jerk but he’s not wrong. When it comes to interacting with him, I think he cared more about scoring points than actual DEI efforts unless they personally affect him. But his point stands because even though people said it was fine, there’s an implicit pressure to “go along to get along.” I don’t think it’s totally fair to put this all on the LW, because culturally-Christian atheists are as constrained by the calendar as anyone else and she moved forward after consulting the people who should have handled the situation differently, but once the point was raised the right thing to do was move the event.

        I don’t know where I fall personally because I’m Jewish but mostly non-practicing so if someone came to me with this question, my honest answer would be that I couldn’t speak for others but I’d be personally fine with keeping the original date if it was convenient for me.

        1. ferrina*

          I think LW needs to move it. A DEI concern was brought to them (although by a jerk- I think you’re spot on with your assessment of the CEO), and rather than putting people on the spot, they should have just moved it off the religious holiday. As you said, there’s inherent pressure to “go along to get along”, and it’s not fair to put that pressure on people based on their religion. Can you imagine being the one person that said “no, that doesn’t work because of my religion”, then it gets rescheduled to a day when less people can attend? Coworkers may blame you that Mr. Popular wasn’t here because of your religion. It’s wrong, but it happens, and we’d be delusional to say that that doesn’t have an impact on your workplace experience and relationships, and it’s reasonable that people would factor that into their response.

          LW should have taken that pressure on themself. Just reschedule. If it’s more inconvenient, fine. Doing the right thing isn’t always convenient.

    6. Nonny Moose*

      I feel like the strong response to this letter leaves out a lot of strictly practical issues. This isn’t a major company networking event – it’s literally a goodbye party (and it sounds like only for 2 teams!). The person who is leaving will only be there a limited amount of time. What if this is the only day that works? People don’t set their 2 weeks notice around holidays maliciously, and it very well could be that this is the one day that works best for the person leaving (priority 1) and their team/well wishers (priority 2).

      I think it’s one thing to say that company events need to be structured around religious calendars – we absolutely do need to accommodate and make accessible these big events and conferences, which is not difficult to do by any means. It’s another to say that no one is allowed to plan for a simple after-work happy hour when most folks are in the office anyway. That said, it’s very very odd to me that the CEO (who does have power to address religious inequity in a practical way if he’d like) would spend his time throwing a temper tantrum on an all staff email. If the drinks can be moved to a non-holiday that still works for the employee who is leaving it should be. If not, then why is setting an an alternative for folks who can’t attend such a problem?

      There are so many valid points on how people of non-Christian religions have to work harder and do more in order to observe their faith. This is deeply unfair. People should be given the time they need to celebrate their holidays without dipping into PTO. Hell, we can argue (and I do) that it’s worth pushing for more of these to be federal holidays so folks can just have their time off without asking. Part of living in a heterogenous melting pot does mean that we should be pushing for that equity on a structural basis. That said if I want to celebrate a cultural holiday like Thanksgiving/Christmas/Juneteenth, but I’m in a country that doesn’t observe it & my work is open, it’s possible that I can miss sporadic events like a happy hour once in a while. If the company was running an event that meant I’d be excluded on a continual basis I’d be much more concerned.

    7. tangerineRose*

      “The CEO responded directly to me telling me that FYI, I have scheduled this happy hour over Rosh Hashanah.”

      Reading that, I would have thought the natural response would be to reschedule it after looking up when Rosh Hashanah is this year. It seems like what the CEO said was at least a strong hint that this needs to be rescheduled.

      That doesn’t excuse the CEO’s response later though.

    8. Eyes Kiwami*

      This. Ultimately OP could have and should have handled this better: missed clear hints to reschedule the event, falling back on “who cares about that event anyway, this is the only day we could do it” when if this was a different holiday it would never have even been considered in the first place. But OP basically handed the CEO a slam-dunk to offset criticism of himself.

      I totally understand OP’s defensive reaction of “why is DEI only a big deal when I’m the one who messed up/when the CEO is the victim”. But if you actually want DEI to improve you have to do better than that, even when your crap CEO is the victim, even when you’re the one who messed up.

  5. tommy*

    “Am I missing something here? I’m an atheist and am definitely not an expert in any of this.”

    In case this helps LW #1 or anyone else, going forward:

    I think you meant “I’m a atheist” to signal that you’re not Jewish or that you’re not a practicing member of any religion? Is that what you meant? I can only speak from (one specific) Jewish angle, but “I’m an atheist” would not necessarily signal that you’re not Jewish.. There are atheist Jews. There are atheist Jews who practice all holidays. There are atheist Jews who keep kosher.

    The conflation of practicing-ness with internal faith sounds like a Christian framework. It comes from a default-Christian culture.

    Your happy hour is a problem, but others have explained that already.

    1. TechWorker*

      There’s a lot of atheists who live in dominant Christian cultures/grew up with Christian family who celebrate Christmas, Easter, eat fish on Fridays and maybe even go to church once a year. Is it really ‘default Christian’ to conflate internal faith with practicing? (Genuine question, I get that being Jewish and Atheist is ‘different’ to that for lots of reasons, but I don’t think the OPs statement that they are Atheist is somehow indicating their preference for Christianity).

      1. AlphabetSoupCity*

        Not necessarily, but most US atheists are culturally Christian, most LWs are from the US, so it’s a reasonable assumption.

      2. doreen*

        I think there’s a difference between a “lapsed” or “not devout” Christian and atheist. There are no doubt plenty of atheists who grew up in Christian culture and celebrate Christmas and Easter , including attending church , with their families/friends as a cultural event. This group does not generally follow the “fish on Friday” type of practices or attend church regularly. There’s another group ( probably much larger ) that would not describe themselves as atheists, but rather as Christians, who follow some of the practices but not all of them and not perfectly. This is typically in my experience where you find the people who abstain from meat on Fridays but don’t attend church regularly. And something that I think is unknown in Christianity is a person who describes themself as atheist who follows all of the rules and practices – using a Catholic example , you will not find someone who attends Mass every week , doesn’t eat meat on Fridays, goes to confession regularly, etc, who describes themself as an atheist. The closest you will get is someone who is “having a crisis of faith” or “having doubts”. From what I understand Judaism is different and there are people who have no belief in God and would describe themselves as atheist while still being observant.

        1. Crackerjack*

          There are self-described ‘Christian atheists’, who are like this but as a Christian, I wouldn’t consider them Christians at all if they have no beliefs. It seems to be different in Judaism.

          1. fish*

            Right. Because that’s the privilege of being in the dominant culture.

            To signal you’re an atheist but part of Jewish culture, you have to call yourself a Jewish atheist.

            To signal you’re an atheist but part of Christian culture, you can just call yourself atheist. Because the very air around us all is Christian culture in the US.

            1. Student*

              As an atheist who is not part of anybody’s religious culture, I take exception to this. It’s an assumption on your part, and it’s not correct.

              If somebody wants to explain the detailed nuances of their atheist practices to you, that’s fine; I’m not about to argue with a fellow atheist who’s going to a church or temple regularly for their own reasons. Everyone’s welcome to be an atheist in their own way.

              But, by its entirely decentralized nature, atheism definitely does not have a convention that “atheist” means “Christian-ish atheist”, and you’ll deeply offend a lot of atheists by going around assuming that. While there are some atheists who were raised in another religion and keep to some of its traditions, there are many atheists who have explicitly and specifically rejected the traditions of their former religion, and some who weren’t raised in a faith background at all to begin with.

            2. Sylvan*

              Atheists don’t have the privilege of being in the dominant culture. Please knock it off. Would you say this about any other religious minority?

          2. Temperance*

            As an atheist, who was raised evangelical and is married to an atheist raised Catholic (so I’m familiar with two of the most prevalent Christian sects), you can’t be a “Christian atheist”. Belief in Christ is the thing that makes one a Christian, generally speaking.

            It’s disrespectful to Christians and to other atheists to use that as your identity.

        2. Sylvan*

          I think there’s a difference between a “lapsed” or “not devout” Christian and atheist.

          There is. Thank you. It’s frustrating to be repeatedly lumped into a religion we’re not members of and are discriminated against by.

      3. ecnaseener*

        It’s subtly different, even though yes of course lots of atheists retain elements of Christian culture. There’s a long-ish (circa 18th cent?) tradition of skeptical/atheist/agnostic/pantheist/secular Jewish scholarship, going far beyond “I don’t really believe in this but I’ll celebrate the holidays with my family.” My confirmation class (read: the group of teenagers who specifically chose to continue a Jewish education for a few years beyond the fun bar/bat mitzvah stuff) was mostly at least skeptical – questioning it all was a *point* of the process.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I actually read that to mean atheist-atheist, not kosher-atheist or “well, I still celebrate Christmas but in a secular way”. Sure, if OP buys chocolate eggs in spring and decorates a tree in the winter, merely skipping the church visits, they might need to reflect on whether they truly don’t understand why people need specific times of year off to do specific things since they do exactly the same thing. However if they are the type of atheist who celebrates cultural touchstones, then it wouldn’t have made sense to mention it? I would have thought rather they didn’t have any of that or were raised with any of that and were aware of it as a difference and blind spot. Some people are raised outside religious traditions! It’s difficult to identify that as a culture, because well, they don’t have any very visible culturally identifiable markers.

      1. AlphabetSoupCity*

        You can be fully atheist and still culturally Christian, even if you don’t celebrate Christmas. Many atheists in the US (most) are.

        1. Wheels on Fire*

          I think a lot of US atheists would object to being called culturally christian. I don’t consider myself any type of christian, cultural or otherwise. I am just a non-religious person who lives in a country heavily influenced by christianity. I am no more culturally christian than a Jewish American or Muslim American.

            1. Student*

              I think you need to actually listen when an atheist tells you that this is pretty offensive.

              I’m an atheist. I live in the USA. I’m not Christian, culturally or otherwise, and I find it offensive that you’d disregard my own accounting of my faith. I don’t celebrate Christmas in any regard, I know only about as much about your religion as I do about a half-dozen other religions I’ve encountered in this country, and what I do know of it, I want no part of. I’m happy to respectfully live and work aside Christians and any number of faiths, but I am not part of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, nor any other religion.

              I think you want to believe your own faith is so good, or all-encompassing, or all-embracing that you can just try to vacuum us up into it by proximity. You cannot. Please don’t try. You would hopefully never tell a US Jew or Muslim that they were “Christian-ish” Jews or Muslims just because there’s a lot of Christianity happening nearby them. It’s just as offensive to us as it would be to them. We are our own religion, independent of yours.

              That said, if a particular atheist wants to embrace some aspects of your religion, that’s up to them. Atheism doesn’t put up fences to doing that, and they’re welcome to walk their own path. It’s not a requirement or expectation, and it’s not common among the atheists I know. That’s going to be very individual practice. But just because you “can” do it, doesn’t mean most people do it, and I want to emphasize that assuming this about any specific atheist is likely to be deeply offensive.

          1. fish*

            lol no

            Look at all of your cultural practices. Compare them with a Jew. Compare them with a Christian. Who are you more like?

                1. Wheels on Fire*

                  I have though about it. I do not follow any Christian cultural practices except for the ones that every American experiences: getting Christmas off, many businesses being closed on Sundays, etc. That doesn’t make me any more Christian than it makes a Jewish person Christian.

                  You seem to be assuming that everyone who isn’t Jewish, Muslim, or some other minority religious is automatically Christian to some degree, but that’s not true and it pretty offensive to non-religious people who don’t like Christian domination in the US any more than any other minority religion does.

            1. Sylvan*

              Neither. Why do you want to see a group of non-Christian people through a Christian lens? It’s pretty weird. Do you do this with other religious groups?

              1. Happy meal with extra happy*

                I’m not going to quantify how many people are like this in the US, but part of it is that, as a Jewish atheist and an outside to the general “Christian-ness” of the US, I personally know a lot of people who are not religious in anyway but still do a lot of culturally “Christian” things. Christmas trees, Easter baskets, etc. When you’ve never been in the group, it can be more obvious to see when certain activities are presented as fully secular, but they’re clearly not.

                Like I said, I’m not going to say everyone is like this, and I fully recognize that my anecdotes cannot be used to extrapolate a mass trend, but I just wanted to add my thoughts for where fish and others on this thread are coming from.

                1. Sylvan*

                  Okay. Yeah, it’s weird that some people present those things as secular when they’re really not. They wouldn’t be happening without Christian holidays.

                  Anyway, fish’s comments seem to involve a premise that atheist beliefs are a void naturally filled by Christianity. Hope they wouldn’t say that about any other religious group and hope they stop doing it to atheists. Hope Christians stop it, too.

        2. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

          Except Christian is not a culture it is a religion. You can reframe it as western culture or white/European heritage culture or something like that. Christianity the religion is open to all cultures

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I think this is an important sub-point about the Christian framework that actually does extend DEI goals; thank you.

      (Someone who never says “I’m an agnostic” to explain that I have no idea when secular Christmas or Easter are or if they might be important to someone–because I do know both, even if Easter occasionally sneaks up on me.)

  6. Safetykats*

    It’s so interesting to me that OP1 didn’t know the day they selected was a major religious holiday because my iPhone calendar tells me that, my paper calendar tells me that, and I can set my Outlook calendar to “add holidays” to show me that. If you are concerned at all, it’s not hard to know. To me, it seems like a level of cluelessness that really does look like disrespect.

    1. Roland*

      My google calendar tells me about Jewish holidays because I asked it to. It does not tell me about Muslim or Hindu or Jain or Deep-Cut Catholic holidays. You are making an odd assumption here.

      1. Tinkerbell*

        Yep, this. OP1 should take Jewish holidays into account if there are Jewish employees or clients they’d be working with (which it sounds like there are). They’re not obligated to take into account EVERY holiday for every culture and religion, because there are just too many and that would be an intrusive burden on whoever is scheduling things. It seems like an obvious reasonable threshold would be “holidays that would affect people actually attending.”

        1. Nes*

          How would they know the religion of all their coworkers and clients? It seems like an intrusive question to ask.

          Would they not take a religion into account until someone spoke up or objected to the scheduling?

          1. LlamaDuck*

            Mm, I practice a minority religion, which, depending on how it’s counted, may or may not be in the “top ten” worldwide. It’s important to me! But, I’m not offended that I have to be the one to bring it up when it alters my schedule.

            Judaism might be different, particularly in the United States, since it seems like a pretty commonplace minority religion. But, I don’t think, in general, people are offended just because other people are unaware (the in this letter CEO notwithstanding).

            It’s frustrating after I bring it up if it still gets ignored. But, beforehand, I don’t really expect it. I’m also not obviously religious at work so it can catch people off-guard.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            The normal thing–this came up re Juneteenth–is to say “Hey how about October 5th for the next meeting?” and if someone says “That’s Yom Kippur so won’t work for me” you then say “Ah, good to know. How about the 7th?” rather than “Well we’ll poll the other people but if it’s more convenient for other people we’ll be putting it on the 5th and you should just make that work.”

            This comes up on international teams re things that have no cultural or religious value to people who, nonetheless, have a bank holiday on Monday and so won’t be doing a Zoom call with you on that day. So you look at doing the call on Tuesday or Wednesday.

            1. LizB*

              you then say “Ah, good to know. How about the 7th?” rather than “Well we’ll poll the other people but if it’s more convenient for other people we’ll be putting it on the 5th and you should just make that work.”

              This is really the sticking point for me. We can debate all day about awareness and calendars and community makeup and whether people should know when Rosh Hashanah is and how irritated to be when they don’t, but the fact remains that sometimes people will schedule things on it, or on other important holidays for any number of religions. If you are the one who did the scheduling, once you are informed, you reschedule. That’s the respectful way to proceed here. Polling the crowd and concluding that you’re going to keep the same date, actually, is hugely rude to the person with the holiday. The message it sends is, “well you’re a weirdo with weird and inconvenient holidays, and us normal people don’t really care about whether you’re able to be included.” It’s a major failure of DEI.

              OP, your CEO sucks and is behaving badly. However, in this instance, you also behaved badly. Now you know how to proceed if anything like this comes up again: just reschedule.

              1. Sylvan*

                If you are the one who did the scheduling, once you are informed, you reschedule. That’s the respectful way to proceed here.

                +1. It’s that easy! You find out someone has an obligation on the day that you scheduled something. You reschedule.

                You find out that your CEO objects to something. You change it.

              2. Big Bank*

                I work at an international corp. Though I know the names of more and more cultural and religious holidays, I don’t typically recall when they are unless I specifically am looking it up. For work scheduling, I don’t need to know this! I schedule meetings. if the person has an OOO or responds they can’t make it, I decide whether that person is integral to the meeting and determine whether it needs moved. Fin. I don’t need to know WHY the person is unavailable, just that they are.

                When it comes to off hours events, it’s obviously a little different. Corporate-wide events should definitely be screened to increase the population that can join. It’s still not clear to me whether there was another date this happy hour could be moved to that the departing colleague was available. If there is, then op should have moved it, period, once alerted to the religious holiday. But if this is the only available day, otherwise the colleague can’t do it, then you leave it and apologize for the inability to accommodate for the holiday. I do the same thing for work meetings; can I accomodate everyone? Great. Can I not? Then you take the time slot that most people can attend and apologize for those that have to miss out.

              3. Observer*

                you then say “Ah, good to know. How about the 7th?” rather than “Well we’ll poll the other people but if it’s more convenient for other people we’ll be putting it on the 5th and you should just make that work.”

                This is really the sticking point for me.

                Exactly. Your comment is a great explanation.

                OP, your CEO sucks and is behaving badly. However, in this instance, you also behaved badly. Now you know how to proceed if anything like this comes up again: just reschedule.

                OP, this is your takeaway.

      2. The OTHER other*

        This strikes me as kind of odd and also harsh to the OP. There are many times more Hindus and Japanese than there are Jews. Can you name and date the major Hindu and Japanese religious and cultural festivals? There are large parts of the country where there are very few Jews, and knowledge of their holidays is scanty.

        1. Haley*

          If the CEO was Japanese and said FYI there is an important cultural Japanese holiday happening on this day, that would be all I need to know to reschedule the happy hour. Why is that so difficult? No knowledge required.

          1. The OTHER other*

            It’s not difficult at all, and it’s what I think the LW a should have done in this case. But the post I was replying to said not knowing that a day was a religious holiday displayed a “level of cluelessness”, and I think that’s an unnecessary and harsh thing to say. I grew up in a town with a significant Jewish minority so knew about the major Jewish holidays. When I got to college there were lots of people who had never heard of them, or even met anyone Jewish. Are they all “clueless”? Most Americans don’t know much about Eid, or Diwali, or Boy’s Day, or what a quincanera is.

            When it comes up, people should try to be respectful and accommodating, but the comment was suggesting that people who don’t automatically know what and when these things are already are idiots.

          2. tamarack and fireweed*

            Well, putting on my “nice to OP” hat on – it’s hard because life is messy. We tend to stumble into the fights we take on rather than get into them well-prepared.

            The way I read it is that the OP may not have had anything to do with DEI initiatives, and the criticisms of the leaving co-worker made the OP take this on. The OP was on the side of the leaving co-worker, with the CEO as the antagonist. The OP expended some social capital in furtherance of DEI goals … only to be scuppered by the spiteful CEO, who doesn’t actually care about DEI, but wants to show that DEI proponents are just a bunch of hypocrites.

            In an better situation the OP would have realized in their own time that, for example, disregard of major religious holidays when scheduling team events was *also* a DEI issue, in addition to whatever the leaving co-worker flagged up (presumably something completely different, maybe about race in advancement opportunities, maybe about parental leave, maybe about trans/homophobic jesting).

            The OP totally should have drawn back once the scheduling issue was flagged up, however hypocritically, by the CEO. I do understand, though, psychologically, why it was hard for them to get all the way there – and to be sure, just because it’s hard it doesn’t mean we get dispensed from doing it.

      3. Starbuck*

        My Google calendar for holidays doesn’t have any option to add specific religions, so I’m realizing now it pretty much sucks. Looks like it’s just got public holidays, and Christian holidays. Someone at work this year has scheduled an event on Yom Kippur, and when I toggled the calendar it wasn’t listed on there. So now I know how that happened, since I assume they use the same one I do. Not great!

    2. Lilith*

      Which religions show on your calendar? Someone mentioned the major ones (I guess the big three). But there are hundreds of religions with thousands of holy days. Many are duplicates of course, with solar and lunar ones. If 5 religions are in the calendar, what about religions #6-10? If 10 religions are in the calendar, what about religions #11-100? People will feel discriminated against so it’s an impossible task. I know many, many people are unhappy Pagan festivals (other than Yuletide and Easter) aren’t included in religious calendars and they can rightly feel discriminated against.

      1. Dr Crusher*

        What even are the big three, for that matter? I tried to imagine what they would be and I’m not sure. Mine would likely be different to yours. It varies so much by region!

        1. Hlao-roo*

          My understanding (not well-versed in religion so my take could very well be wrong!) is that the big three Abrahamic religions are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

          The Wikipedia page for World Religions says the “big five” religions are generally considered to be Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

          1. Dr Crusher*

            I guess, but why would I or anyone particularly know the holidays of the big three Abrahamic religions over any other? Unless I happened to live in a region where they were also the three main religions.

            1. Hlao-roo*

              Oh, I’m not saying that people should or will know the holidays of the “big three” or “big five” religions. I was just saying if someone references “the major religions” in a general sense, they are most likely either talking about “the most common religions where I live” (like you mentioned) or some/all of Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

      2. Russian In Texas*

        I just opened my standard Google calendar (on my phone, I don’t usually use it) and not a single holiday shows up, not even Christmas.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      Hmm, none of my calendars show this and I looked up the ones you mentioned. I’ve definitely seen Rosh Hashanah on calendars before, but I think they were the proper printed variety with the wall pictures etc. I would love to include more major holidays on my calendars. I’d really like to have my own holidays (pagan wheel of the year) show on calendars if anyone knows how to do that.

      1. Stevie Budd*

        I just added the Jewish and Muslim holidays in Outlook due to this discussion. You can go to File ->Options-> Calendar, and then select which sets of holidays you want to see.

        1. ScruffyInternHerder*

          Thank you for including the how-to, I just did the same.

          I’m not often in charge of scheduling anything THAT critical, but I do feel its good to know/be aware of these dates.

        2. Ellis Bell*

          Oh bummer, I can’t for Outlook. All my settings are set by my organisation. It was a faff to get them to choose the right time zone, actually. It’s something I’m definitely going to raise though. We’re a faith school, but not all students are the same faith. My personal calendar is Google, so I’ll possibly start there.

    4. Cat Lover*

      Eh, that’s a YMMV.

      I am ashamed to admit that I didn’t know that 09/26 was a holiday. I am scheduled to have a new hire start that day (HR sets the days, not me) but she requested to start Tuesday because of the holiday. I didn’t know! Kids have a (public) school day off that day, but the school calendar has it listed as a teacher work day.

      But of course she can start Tuesday.

    5. NotRealAnonforThis*

      What struck me as interesting about this:

      I grew up in a small town where the dominant religions were Christian based. Think: “Not allowed to be assigned homework on a Wednesday that is due on a Thursday because worship service on Wednesday night” as a public school district policy. I also had pretty darn progressive parents who made sure we were aware of different religions, languages, cultures, etc. But my exposure to any of this was really pretty limited because of where I lived.

      Went away from small town to university. Heard of Rosh Hashanah in passing from friends. Did I have a clue what it was? Nope. Never heard of it. But the difference? You don’t double down on your own ignorance. Did I have to ask for information about it? Yes. Did I insist on scheduling (insert dorm-wide activity that I was on the committee for) during Rosh Hashanah because I’d previously been unaware of it? No. Because you freaking ask for information and don’t make assumptions. Stating that because I’m Catholic and couldn’t possibly have known what Rosh Hashanah is, and that I couldn’t know how important it is, is just flat ignorant and a few other words not fit to print.

      On the “AITA Scale”, this is “ESH”. Seriously.

    6. Bubbletea*

      My paper planner shows me really “useful” holidays like National Picnic Day, and my Outlook calendar tells me about national Bank Holidays, but neither has religious days marked. Also I wouldn’t necessarily know whether a day is important or just marked (Catholic Saint days seem to occur at least weekly, for instance).

      1. Beany*

        I think that there’s at least one Catholic saint for every day of the year. I recall seeing a “saint’s day” calendar during French class in school.

    7. kiki*

      My iPhone calendar by default provides *a lot* of holidays, most of which do not seem to be especially significant, so it’s easy to start to ignore them. For example, my iPhone calendar shows nearly every feast for Catholicism. As a former Catholic, I recognize those dates are significant for those practicing, but most Catholics I know would not take the day off.

      A practical company-wide solution is for HR or the DEI department to create an inclusive holidays calendar for the organization, so those scheduling can easily see major holidays to avoid scheduling on. It probably wouldn’t be perfect, especially in the first iteration, but in an inclusive culture, it could be treated as a living list where people can feel free to suggest additions.

    8. lilsheba*

      I have no idea when these holidays are, it’s not something I follow. It’s not disrespect if it’s not part of your world.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        Not knowing it off the top of your head isn’t disrespect, but when planning an event it’s a good idea to check that you’re not going to exclude an entire group of people.

        1. lilsheba*

          Well I don’t even know if my company pays attention to these personally. Can’t say. Personally I don’t schedule anything so I don’t know.

      2. Beany*

        I’d like to think that in a decent-sized company, new hires (and existing employees if this is a new policy) could be asked about what religious holidays were important to them, and those could be added to a general “do not schedule” company-wide calendar.

      3. Observer*

        I have no idea when these holidays are, it’s not something I follow. It’s not disrespect if it’s not part of your world.

        I get that. But if you care about DEI (or *claim* to) or if IT IS YOUR JOB (ie the DEI Director), then what you do is to check whether there are any major holidays of other groups going on on that day. It’s really easy to do. Failing to do so could easily be seen as disrespectful.

        But what’s REALLY problematic here is not that the OP didn’t check, but once they checked, they doubled down and the DEI Director saw no problem with it. That is mosst definitely disrespectful.

      4. NICS*

        Life is dynamic. What happens when you’re assigned a couple of supervisees who are Jewish? Will the days they need off still not be “part of your world” and will you refuse them permission to take their most important holidays off on that basis, or will you at least make a note of a couple of holidays and include them in your world because they’re in the world of people whom you now work with?

      5. Deanna Troi*

        if you’re the DEI coordinator, it’s your responsibility to follow these things and make it part of your world. The DEI coordinator really messed this up.

  7. M. from P.*

    I am honestly baffled why you told the CEO that because of the time conflict with the happy hour scheduled over Rosh Hashanah he can just tell the employee goodbye on another day.
    Did you tell him this because he was the CEO and you didn’t think it mattered for him to attend or would you have said the same to someone else who had a conflict that day? Because yes I think it’s disrespectful – it reads to me as “your presence is not essential so we’re not going to bother accommodating your religious holiday”.
    Was he trying to score a point? For sure. But I think you also have a lesson to learn here.

    1. Emma*

      Well, I think that’s the crux of the issue and why it feels so aggravating to LW that the CEO objected, right?

      The employee is leaving because the CEO was dismissive of his DEI concerns. The happy hour has, presumably, been scheduled mostly so the employee can say goodbye to his team; I can’t imagine he’s particularly fussed about having the opportunity to say goodbye to the CEO whose behaviour is the whole reason he is leaving.

      But now, the person whose attendance is probably least wanted at the leaving do, because of his previous dismissal of the employee’s DEI concerns, is using his own DEI concerns, in a way which is certainly hypocritical and probably feels tokenistic, to get the leaving do rescheduled, which will probably result in the employee having to spend more time with the CEO (who is the reason he is leaving) and less with the people he actually wants to say goodbye to.

      Unfortunately, any time you make a decision within an organisation that you should be going out of your way to respect DEI issues, there is a risk that someone will selectively raise those issues not because they care but because they want to make you go out of your way. This is very common with complaints – some people will make a complaint just because they know you will invest time and energy in giving it fair consideration before dismissing it as completely unfounded; but the alternative is dismissing these concerns immediately without any consideration, which would mean you are not treating DEI seriously.

      It’s frustrating to have these issues misused, but it’s worth the cost of always responding as if the concern is in good faith, because the other alternative (of ignoring them) is worse. I can only imagine that it’s even more frustrating when the person engaging in the childish abuse of process is the CEO, who is likely doing it, at least in part, to get you to make a decision which he can use to undermine you in future if you ever complain about the company’s lack of attention to DEI in future.

      1. lunchtime caller*

        right I feel like you hit on the aspect being missed by a lot of people who are taking it as “I would not be wanted at this event which is hurtful to imagine for me personally” when really the truth is, the CEO probably ISN’T wanted at the event, for reasons extending throughout this person’s event. They don’t like him, clearly! And he’s the CEO, so I don’t feel that bad about him missing something social at work–in fact, the big boss probably shouldn’t be sticking around at drinks events in general, unless he’s throwing them on company money.

        So there’s the valid question of how to handle religious questions going forward at this company, and the reality of this specific situation, which is yeah no one cares if this person can come.

        1. Starbuck*

          Sure but if they wanted to exclude him, doing it based on a religious holiday scheduling conflict is the absolute shittiest and most craven way to do it. CEO sounds like a probably jerk but this was still wrong.

          1. Observer*

            Seriously!

            I’m just amazed at the number of people who are saying this was basically ok, because they were using the religious piece as an excuse to exclude the CEO who “no one likes”.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        We have no idea how valid the CEO’s dismissiveness of the DEI stuff was. If it landed as all abstract (“Let’s watch a video about diversity!”) right up until an actual minority was being dismissed, and then the DEI folk would always realize that by golly Barbara’s soccer pickup trumps Mabel’s religious holiday, then he had a point. (Expressed terribly and in a way likely to get it dismissed.)

      3. fhqwhgads*

        Yeah, the LW1 sitch is a little weird to me. I’m Jewish, but whether I take Rosh Hashana off kinda varies. I’m not super religious. However, a leaving happy hour in my experience is usually scheduled when the leaving person finds most convenient, or is simply after work on their last day. It’s not usually something up to a third person. Clearly in the letter’s case, it is being scheduled by someone else, but the crux of the issue in this specific letter isn’t “is it ok to schedule something on Rosh Hashana”. That’s sort of a straw man here. If LW1 were asking in a “hey this made me think of other situations” then, yes, it matters. Do factor that in, in general. But specifically for an outside work hours, say goodbye to a leaving person happy hour thing, it’s important that the thing be attendable by: the leaving person and their immediate team. And it’s the nature of the beast that not everyone can go. If you know half the team is jewish, don’t schedule it on Rosh Hashana. But if the leaving person picked the date – or that’s their last day, it’s not something I’d expect to be rescheduled around a High Holy Day. To me this is more similar to a non-jew not rescheduling their birthday around Rosh Hashana than it is to, say, rescheduling an All Staff Meeting around Rosh Hashana. The latter, you absolutely should. The former, the date is what it is.

        1. Not A Racoon Keeper*

          Agreed with this! I’m a bit flummoxed by how strongly most comments I’m seeing disagree – but this isn’t a “company event”, this is a “someone’s last day drinks” event, and that should be scheduled around that person’s availability, within a probably-short notice period.

          This is how I’m thinking about this: I have chronic illnesses that restrict my ability to consume some common allergens. My organization should absolutely not plan a org-wide event that I cannot attend. But if a colleague I’m not super close to plans their last day drinks or a birthday happy hour at a place I can’t go or eat, then I’ll just wish them well in the office and opt not to go. I will not make a big inclusion deal about it, because it isn’t a company event. Am I missing something here?

          1. Jennifer Strange*

            First, we don’t know that people being excluded weren’t super close with the colleague. Second, this isn’t one person missing out, it’s an entire group missing out due to their religious affiliation. Third, the OP who made the choice did so after talking about how important DEI is, so it comes off pretty shortsighted and hypocritical on their part.

            1. fhqwhgads*

              If I were “super close” with the colleague, I’d expect to not lose touch with them after they leave, so missing their going away happy hour isn’t significant to me. I’m not sure there’s a middle level of closeness for me where I’d be upset about not being able to make this due to Rosh Hashana, but also didn’t expect to otherwise be in contact.
              If we were talking about a work meeting, a conference, a training, a presentation, damn right don’t schedule it on Rosh Hashana. But it does matter that the letter is about a trivial event, and a purely social one at that. It’s not a networking opportunity. It’s not the company new year’s party. It’s Have a Drink With So-and-So and say “byeee”.

              1. Jennifer Strange*

                Okay, great that it’s not significant to you? That doesn’t mean it’s not significant to others.

                1. tamarack and fireweed*

                  There’s a *lot* of projecting going on here. The letter says that the people who were close to the employee had selected that accursed date. The CEO is understood to bring it up out of spite, not because they want to hang out.

                  No, the LW didn’t handle this well, and yes, Jewish holidays are frequently treated dismissively even in DEI-conscious companies.

          2. My+Useless+2+Cents*

            Yeah, I think a lot of people are missing that it is a social event outside of work, not a company sponsored mandatory event. The event is scheduled around the leaving employee and their team(s) availability.

            Truthfully, if I were the LW, I would reply all to CEO’s email with “Event has been cancelled.” And take the “Company” out of the social event by then letting departing employee and relevant team(s) know that drinks are still on to say goodbye.

            1. Stevie*

              I think that would make it worse! Yes, the CEO handled this inappropriately, but he did have a point amidst the extraness.

              This would set such a poor precedent for any sort of EDI complaint. Show those at all levels in the org that their potential concerns will be addressed, should any arise.

              Imagine something like a male senior staffer setting up a happy hour for only the men in the office, having a woman complain, then responding by “canceling” the event and instead secretly telling the men that the happy hour is still on. Even if there was a reasonable reason somehow for a happy hour with only men this just wouldn’t the way to handle a complaint about it.

      4. Jennifer Strange*

        The employee is leaving because the CEO was dismissive of his DEI concerns…I can’t imagine he’s particularly fussed about having the opportunity to say goodbye to the CEO whose behaviour is the whole reason he is leaving.

        I keep seeing this pop up, and want to point out that the letter doesn’t say the employee mentioned the CEO, just that he highlighted concerns with how the organization has handled DEI issues. The OP is the one who feels like the CEO doesn’t think there are any issues. And the OP could be correct, but for all we know the employee in question does want the CEO there.

      5. tamarack and fireweed*

        Yeah, that’s how I read this too. If the CEO hadn’t felt attacked and brought up Rosh Hashanah, he probably wouldn’t have attended the good-bye happy hour of an employee 3 layers down who left because of him.

        I totally agree that the OP has a lesson to learn, and that the DEI director is failing on their job. But the CEO is an abusive asshole. If this is an “ESH” as some suggest there *are* nuances here.

    2. L-squared*

      I mean, I’m kind of team OP here.

      I’m assuming that OP picked a date for this happy hour that works best for the person leaving. If that is the case, then yeah, that person’s needs trump the CEO. And lets be real, do you think they even WANT the CEO there. I can assure you, when I leave my company, if we do a party at a bar, I won’t really care if they come or not, and I certainly wouldn’t have it on a less convenient day for myself so they can come, unless they said that they are paying for everyon’s drinks all night.

      1. Stevie*

        It would certainly be your prerogative to schedule it whenever you want, but it would also be others’ to critique the choice (and your response to the complaints).

  8. April*

    Re: letter 3

    There’s no way that two hour “deep dive” isn’t going to ask questions that interviewers tend to avoid because it can lead to illegal discrimination, like whether you have kids or not.

    The fact that it’s a start-up doing this makes me think they want you to work insane hours, and anything that could distract you from that means they don’t want you. Ugh.

    1. Poppy*

      It certainly gives me huge red flags. My last toxic job had an unpaid, working interview that I had to pay to fly to (very common in my field) that lasted THIRTEEN HOURS with one meal at Subway. I didn’t get to eat dinner until almost 11 pm. I was so desperate to get out of my old toxic position and this place seemed ok otherwise so I accepted the job. Unfortunately this was during the recession so jobs were scarce. Turned out to be a complete nightmare and I should have known that interview was a preview of my life to come.

    2. Marthooh*

      Yep. “…discussing scenarios in my life and work and explaining how they impact how I work and the decisions I make” sounds like the HM wants to weed out anyone who might actually have a personal life.

  9. TransmascJourno*

    I’m sorry, but LW1’s blasé take (at best!) regarding the Rosh Hashanah (see: the first half of her final graf) really cements how horribly she handled this. To be clear, the CEO handled this pretty horribly, too, as did the DEI director— who, frankly, failed miserably here too, considering this was approved by her, too. But the fact that the LW’s defense was that the Jewish employees should be happy that they get to take vacation days for some of the most important days of (religious/cultural) observance in our calendar, and that the LW already knew that those dates, per the CEO’s first email, would be incompatible? Huge nopes all around, in goblets, and those nopes taste like apple-honey mead, and are served with slices of round challah.

    Full disclosure: A few months ago, I accepted a very big promotion in which I would step into a big managerial role. Using AAM’s excellent guidance via the archives, I was able to negotiate extra PTO so I wouldn’t have to worry about taking two days of for Rosh Hashanah, one day off for Yom Kippur, and two days off for Pesach. After I was officially promoted, I had a convo with the head of HR in which I expressed that we should always make sure no major meetings, events, etc., should be scheduled during major holidays for non-Christian religions. A couple weeks later, it was confirmed that was now policy. (To wit: I’m creating a calendar in my spare time to send over to review.)

    LW1, empathy isn’t hard. You might be mixing up the fact that the CEO sucks with all of this — which Alison correctly points out — but do your best to separate that from your current viewpoint.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      Hm, I don’t think LW1 said people “should be happy” to take the day off, they said they “have to”. In other words they were trying to find out what the company wanted them to do, not do things according to their own preference which would have been “give everyone the day off”. Whereas the company has indicated to them that it’s a business day, never indicated that they are to avoid scheduling something on it, and OP offered an alternate time and checked with the only person available to check. Does OP need better (or any) training on this matter? Yep, sure! But I don’t think it’s an empathy issue.

      1. PersephoneUnderground*

        This was my read too- the rules felt like they were suddenly being changed by the CEO, mostly to jerk the OP around. Of course they dug in! I think that may have still been a mistake if anyone else invited was prevented due to the date, though. Kinda an instance of a jerk accidentally getting something right.

        I’d probably let it go and maybe use this in future as a bit of ammunition next time I tried to improve DEI myself. “Oh, CEO made it clear how important this was to him when I messed up and scheduled an event on Rosh Hashanah a while back, so of course we have to move the training he scheduled on Eid/ avoid meal-centric events during Ramadan/ etc.!”

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Homebrewer here…let’s have a thread on the weekend open forum!
        (Short reply trying not to derail: Also called cyser. Honey and apple juice are brewed together. I prefer it made with fresh pressed/unfiltered juice.)

        1. TransmascJourno*

          I had no idea it was a thing—I was just making a Rosh Hashanah joke (re: apples are traditionally dipped in honey to symbolically celebrate the hopeful portent of a sweet new year; the same goes with round challah, which symbolizes the nature of time). But regardless, I am absolutely delighted it actually exists! I’m definitely going to include it for my next erev ha’Rosh!

  10. NotMrsMaisal*

    It would have never cross my mind in a million years that something shouldn’t be scheduled on a religious holiday that I know absolutely 0 about. Was the CEO going to this goodbye event? Where I live, many people participate in religious traditions of a certain sort and stuff still gets scheduled on those days. We just don’t go to the outing if we are doing something else. While I kind of feel like your CEO was just being a big baby, it is a bad look when all of this revolves around DEI.

    1. Hitch*

      The US is an exceedingly religious country. And it’s not a private matter there as it might be elsewhere in the world.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        Mh, I can only speak for Europe, but think it veeeeery unlikely that something would get scheduled on Christmas or Easter, which also qualify as religious holidays. The separation between religious observances and cultural traditions is not so clear-cut.

        1. TechWorker*

          Yes, I agree, but where I live that is because those days are also National/bank holidays. It’s not really a good comparison for that reason.

          I have learnt a lot from reading the comments here, there’s clearly a lot that just doesn’t affect people of no religion or of the majority religion. But I do get the OPs reaction, if they chose a date that worked for the teams in question (Eg the primary audience of the event), and then other folks are sort of ‘invited if they’re free’ I can see why rescheduling may have felt ‘not that important’. Where I work social events are pretty relaxed, it’s always assumed not everyone will be able to come. If you continually scheduled over religious holidays that’s obviously a shitty thing to do, but it doesn’t feel like a huge deal as a one off, in the same way some people will have other prior commitments that mean they can’t make the social (family event, vacation, sick family member).

          Note I am not saying it’s *not* a huge deal – very clearly it is to a lot of people! But I wouldn’t have predicted that. (If anyone of the religion in question was part of that first group of invitees who were choosing the date – obviously – take it into account and avoid the day! That feels obvious though).

          1. Ellis Bell*

            I think it’s one of those things where if it rarely happens, people will respond with: “Oh it’s only a social occasion, and who cares, but obviously I can’t attend”. Whereas if it happens every year to your highest high holidays, and some of the events are pretty important your response is a bit more aggrieved, even if *this time* it’s a social occasion you don’t even care about.

            1. Nitpicker*

              Thanks. It all adds up over time. Or, as I once said, some people are surprised that the Jewish holidays happen every year.

          2. Emmy Noether*

            I was mostly trying to push back on the idea that “the US is an exceedingly religious country”, which doesn’t have much to do with the problem at hand. Even France, which takes the separation of church and state very seriously, has certain christian holidays off. Holidays are cultural as much as religious.

            It does seem unnecessary to take holidays into account that no-one in the group observes. But then again, how do you find out what is observed? People may not want to speak up about their minority observances. I don’t have a good solution.

          3. JM60*

            Where I work social events are pretty relaxed, it’s always assumed not everyone will be able to come.

            And some who can attend would like an excuse not to. If I still had religious beliefs, I’d like a religious excuse to not attend social events at work!

          4. AbruptPenguin*

            But the fact that major Christian holidays are national holidays is *proving* that exact point, that culture and religion are intertwined. Christians get their holidays off as an official state observance, so work events aren’t scheduled on those days. Non-Christians don’t have that privilege.

        2. Eater of Hotdish*

          But Christmas, Easter, etc. are cultural holidays because they were/religious holidays first, from a religious tradition that has been dominant in some really destructive ways. I don’t think we can call them cultural holidays without being aware of that context, and of the ways these holidays impact people who do not come from that tradition.

          I’m Christian clergy now, so my work schedule revolves around Sunday, Christmas, Easter, etc., but in previous careers (teaching, HR), I *had* to be aware of dates for Rosh Hashanah, Eid, Lunar New Year, etc. when scheduling tests or training sessions. It is part of living in this world together.

          1. Just Another Zebra*

            Sure, because those are official, work-sanctioned events. This was a going-away happy hour.

            OP should have just moved it when the CEO raised the issue, but I don’t think informal get-togethers can be held to the same standard.