update: is our “Diversity Day” as insensitive as I think it is?

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer whose HR team gave them a list of holidays that aren’t traditionally days off and asked them to vote on which would be their “Diversity Day” that year? Last year they got Diwali off and this year they got Yom Kippur. Here’s the update.

Armed with your assurances that voting on a “Diversity Day” was indeed distasteful and disrespectful, I sent some anonymous feedback to HR outlining my concerns. Apparently I was one of several people who complained because they did away with voting!

Unfortunately, now HR will just unilaterally choose a “Diversity Day” while “taking current world events into account if possible”. When someone pushed back and said that didn’t seem much different than voting and why were they not just giving everyone a floating holiday, HR doubled down and said they wanted to “honor the customs and beliefs of different cultures by pausing work for everyone in the company and a floating holiday would not have the same impact.”

Anyway, next year’s Diversity Day is Women’s Equality Day, at the end of August. To my knowledge this was not announced in any way, it was just quietly added to next year’s calendar.

I foresee this going at least slightly wrong at some point, but I guess we’ll see. I’m slightly baffled at how attached they apparently are to this idea given that our HR leadership and company level leadership have changed since this was originally implemented.

{ 196 comments… read them below }

  1. Kate*

    Ah yes, Women’s Equality Day, which is so commonly requested off by women due to the physically demanding nature of the traditional observances and the fact that many women in diaspora travel to be with other women.


    1. Quill*

      The correct solution would be floating holiday for everyone to schedule their own individual observances, but nope, we’re going to throw darts at a calendar so that nobody will ever consistently get the time to celebrate their own culture.

      1. SomeWords*

        That’s what my employer does. It’s just called “My Holiday” in the time reporting system. It essentially a floating holiday we can use whenever for whatever. I’ve never heard any complaints about the framing from the very diverse workforce.

    2. Jiminy Cricket*

      What? Women’s Equality Day is not a full Shabbat or Holy Day of Obligation for you?

      I’m going to make it one for me next year!

        1. Alex the Alchemist*

          As a nonbinary person who’s often perceived as a woman, I’m definitely using this one in the future.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Cynical ne thinks someone in HR ‘mis making the calendar work for their family’s plans.

    4. Cyborg Llama Horde*

      We do get it off and it is nice to have a scheduled holiday in August, but also I’m pretty sure that it’s one of the holidays I can choose to work and get a floating holiday instead.

    5. learnedthehardway*

      There is something to be said for having a day off when one is NOT expected to do anything involved with making everyone else’s holiday a good one, but other than that, this is a ridiculous and even offensive way to make holidays more inclusive.

      (I am vividly recalling the scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: “Christmas doesn’t just HAPPEN, Clark…” something something about the woman planning and making it happen (tellingly, I can’t find the quote on any of the “famous quotes from this movie” sites).

    6. thelettermegan*

      I’m pretty sure most businesses can give employees a three or four day weekend once a month, and a floating holiday, and survive.

      1. Sales SVP*

        I’m going to wear my people’s tradition dress in celebration that day.

        By which I mean a dress. Possibly from the special diversity rack under the Clearance sign at TJ Maxx.

        1. Jiminy Cricket*

          We must be from different sects. My people wear old sweats and raggedy house sweaters as their national dress. Though, sometimes the intermarried wear housedresses.

          1. Sales SVP*

            Well, my people only pull out our traditional dress for truly special holidays.

            Our day to day look is yoga pants and a hoodie, though traditionalists do like to mutter “not pants” when they see our rumpus. Being irreverent and of the younger generation, I have been known to do the same when I espy an elder in traditional dress. “Not pants!”, you know.

            1. Claire*

              I’ve always assumed my mom was a traditionalist, but apparently not. I found the comfiest leggings ever at CVS(!) so I bought some, and I’ve been wearing them around the house. I was SHOCKED when my 90+ year old mom suggested I just wear them outside when I take my walk instead of changing into my baggier yoga pants. I really expected her to think that leggings are “not pants.”

          1. anonny*

            I once saw someone gushing online about a skirt they bought because they could fit four fully-grown rats in the pocket and not distort the shape too much.

                1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

                  I truly never expected this miracle, but apparently dreams can come true. The pics and the video- I have no interest in owning rats.

                2. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

                  That video. Made. My. Night!

                  I could just imagine those rats talking back to her when she was trying to get them to stay in the pocket: “But mom, I want to climb up onto your shoulder where I can see your face! I can’t see you when I’m in the pocket!” LOLOLOL!

            1. COHikerGirl*

              OMG. That was amazing. Svaha also makes dresses and skirts with fabulous pockets. I cannot confirm rat counts, but I can fit 2 CDs (in cases), my iPhone 15 Pro Max, two card case size things, and not break a sweat (or the lines…super twirly skirt). And bonus, they are wonderfully geeky patterns (one of mine is a uterus Mandela pattern).

              But 100% checking out these skirts.

    1. Silver Robin*

      so glad I am muted and camera off for this meeting because this was *not* the right time to double over cackling

    2. FricketyFrack*

      I’m picturing someone on a safari, just watching women out of their jeep in awe of our various behaviors. “Look at that one, she’s removing her bra and putting on sweatpants before she’s even fully in the house, what incredible agility! Oh, she’s eating cold pizza for dinner even though there are multiple heating implements immediately accessible. We can only speculate as to why!”

      Full disclosure, this person is actually only watching me.

      1. Happily Retired*

        You are a blessing to this world. Thank you for being an observed organism in this wondrously confusing ecosystem. We ecologists appreciate your contribution to our database.

      2. Jill*

        snort! Bras come off the second we’re in the house. I wish I had the nerve to do it as I was waking through the door! it’s gotten so that when the dog sees one of us put on a bra, he gets really excited because he knows he’s about to get a walk.

    3. Jan*

      OMG I cackled! I mean I’m generally not one to complain about an extra, if rotating, paid day off but if HR really gave the response that they want to “honor the customs and beliefs of different cultures” you should DEFINITELY send this in as additional anonymous feedback. Word for word. My god they are really working hard to mess up what should be a good thing

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Hell, send them links to the original letter and this update. If that doesn’t get the message through, nothing will.

    4. Queer Earthling*

      Well, y’know how it is. I was raised in the culture, and even though I’m no longer part of it, sometimes I still like to participate in some of the rituals.

      (…I’m AFAB nonbinary and sometimes I like to wear a dress or paint my nails.)

  2. Potato Potato*

    Choosing Women’s Equality Day seems extra silly to me, like on top of all the inherent problems with lumping every non-Christian holiday into one bucket and then voting/picking at random. In my experience, that’s not usually a day that people make plans around.

    1. Elliot*

      So… they’re trying to think of an exotic Not Us day and ….it’s women? There’s no good answer to the formula of course.

      1. JustaTech*

        Part of me is like “hey, a non-religious day off!” but the rest of me is like “ugghhhhh…”
        It doesn’t solve the “religious holidays off for non-Christians” and it adds “women are ‘diversity'”.

        If the HR is this attached to the idea of “Diversity Days” they should 1) offer floating holidays for people to use at their own direction for their religious holidays, and 2) have some kind of in-office event for whatever holiday they’re trying to spotlight – maybe an educational email (written by someone from the relevant culture, preferably someone outside the company) and snacks?

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I’m concerned that the educational emails/sessions would turn into a burden for people from the minority cultures and contribute to a feeling of othering. It’s not their job to educate us, it’s our job to educate ourselves.

          I feel like even offering snacks could easily go wrong: other people’s cultures aren’t there to be sampled and consumed by the dominant culture. Not to mention, plenty of foods consumed during holidays have religious significance: just imagine how cringe it would be for a company to offer wine and wafers to celebrate Ash Wednesday, for example.

          1. JustaTech*

            Right about the burdening people from the minority cultures! That’s why I said “someone from outside the company”, like an outreach group that explicitly exists to do outreach about their community. As in, someone who has chosen to do this kind of work and is getting paid for it, and not poor Wakeen in accounting who is the token [minority].

  3. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

    I agree this is weird and shouldn’t be a thing.

    I’d also kind of like a white board chart of the thought process that got them to this decision.

    1. Potato Potato*

      I’ll make one up for you.

      Somebody who’s used to all their holidays being automatically off: “What other holidays/cultures are there? We’ve recently had off for a Jewish holiday, and another one that should satisy all of Asia, so we can’t do that. What other kinds of diversity even exist???”

      Somebody else: “uh… there’s gender diversity, I guess”

      First person: “Solved! Women’s Equality Day it is!”

      And then neither person gives it a second thought, because in their minds, all of the holidays of other cultures are indistinguishable from a random day off in the middle of the year.

      1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

        Oh, I more meant the concept of a “Diversity Day” and picking a random holiday each year to be that year’s “Diversity Day.” Both the Diversity Day concept and how to pick said day. As everyone else has commented, it’d be easier to call it a floating holiday and let individuals pick their holidays themselves, but naming it “Diversity Day” and voting on it seem like such out of the box ideas, I wonder what the logic was in rejecting anything else tried by any other company.

        1. Potato Potato*

          Oh. Then I’m with you- I really want to know what was (or more likely wasn’t) going through their heads at the time

          1. Anecdata*

            Maybe “shoot, August always /feels/ like it should have a holiday…”
            (picking March 8 seems like the more obvious choice if you want a women’s day… I’ve never even heard of the end of August one)

            1. Jill*

              right, and plus March doesn’t have a national holiday so it makes even more sense to take the day off then

              1. Princess Sparklepony*

                August also doesn’t have a national holiday.

                I believe every month should have a day off!

        2. Twix*

          This sounds like a pretty textbook example of what we call “performative diversity”, where a company doesn’t care about DEI enough to invest any time, money, or thought into it, but still wants the cachet of appearing to and/or to feel like “part of the solution”. “We give employees an extra floating holiday every year so they can celebrate a cultural holiday of their choice” is a solid, reasonable, and very boring approach to DEI. “We have a random non-mainstream holiday off every year to remind everyone of how we care that other cultures exist” is a terrible plan that has the advantages of being easy, convenient, cheap, and solving “How do we look like we’re doing something DEI-related for group X” for all values of X with a single bad idea.

          1. Lexi Vipond*

            I actually quite like the idea of getting an odd day off each year, as long as it was an extra, but this doesn’t seem like a great way of doing it – more random, like penguin awareness day one year and soup appreciation day (does it exist?) the next…

            1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

              I mean, I love soup, so if you want to give me a day off to appreciate soup, I’m down for it.

            2. YetAnotherAnalyst*

              Yeah, I can kind of see it – like, if the company already covers most major holidays and has floating holiday policy and a generous PTO package, then “here’s a random awareness holiday that isn’t anyone’s cultural expression, so we’re going to mark it with a day off to boost the signal!” would be… kind of awesome, actually! Unfortunately, this doesn’t really sound like that

              1. Princess Sparklepony*

                But is there a National Condensed Soup Day for those of us who are lazy and don’t cook? :D

          2. Your Mate in Oz*

            I’m just having a wild stab in the dark here, but I reckon some religions and cultures will not be on list of possibilities. And not just the Satanists and Pastifarians. I’m guessing Islamic holy days might make the list, but Rastafarians? And the obvious follow-up to Women’s Day, Stonewall Day? (possibly replaced by Same-Sex Marriage Day?) And good luck getting winter solstice through, let alone spring equinox (both important to many cultures and religions, not just Christians)

    2. anon for this*

      My take on the likely thought process involved in making this decision:

      Jr. VP #1: We need to choose a Diversity Day for this year.
      Jr. VP #2: (gets out calendar, set of darts, and enormous bong)

    3. the bat in the office popcorn machine*

      They want their whole staff off on one day is why they’re being stubborn because a floating holiday does the same thing otherwise.

      1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

        While some of the speculation in this thread is amusing, I feel like yours is the closest to actual “logic” employed at the organization.

    4. anonny*

      There was a reddit(?) post about someone who always left corporate-jargon-sounding nonsense on random whiteboards at work, including photos. It included flowcharts with “the four journeys to itselfness” and “unprisoning your think rhino”.

      I reckon this HR’s think rhino needs to go back to prison.

      1. Anecdata*

        Maybe “shoot, August always /feels/ like it should have a holiday…”
        (picking March 8 seems like the more obvious choice if you want a women’s day… I’ve never even heard of the end of August one)

          1. Lexi Vipond*

            Only in England – in Scotland it’s autumn by then, so we have our holiday on the first Monday instead.

            Well, maybe in Wales. No one ever knows about Wales!

            1. Irish Teacher*

              I didn’t know ye had the same holiday as us in August. I guess that is the Lunasa holiday for ye too (or googling suggests Lunastal, but I assume it’s pretty much the same idea).

            2. Caaan Do!*

              “No one ever knows about Wales” sounds about right, we are the forgotten ones :) But yes, we have the last Monday in August as a bank holiday too.

  4. Magenta Sky*

    “. . . given that our HR leadership and company level leadership have changed since this was originally implemented.”

    They’re all members of the Management Fad Of The Month Club. You get a free lifetime membership with an MBA.

  5. Goldenrod*

    I’m not totally opposed to celebrating diversity with a “Diversity Day” but I think this should be in addition to the floating holiday, not instead of it…

    1. Jiminy Cricket*

      Good. Let’s make July 4 Diversity Day then. So that we quit telling people who are not in the white Christian (and, apparently, male) majority that they are the weird “diverse” ones.

      1. Clare*

        Ah yes, July 4. The day you celebrate European settlers finally kicking out the British so that they could claim full ownership over the entire continent they annexed at gunpoint without heed to the wishes of the local Indigenous people. The day you celebrate the finalisation of your successful dispossession. Diverse.

        I’m not against the idea, but voting day might be a better choice.

    2. not being revealing*

      My company had 3 floating holidays.

      HR didn’t tell anyone that they were going away in the new year. People tried to set up holidays in January, and couldn’t find the 3 floating holidays in the tool, and asked where they went.

      After some clamoring, HR announced that the 3 floating holidays had been replaced by holidays honoring Diversity and Inclusion:
      – Juneteenth (only in the USA)
      – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (only in the USA)
      – National Day for Truth & Reconciliation (only in Canada)

      So American lost one day and Canadians lost 2 days, and we all went from days to use whenever (MLK Jr Day, or Yom Kippur, or Diwali, or …) to being stuck with a prescribed day.

      It was GREAT way to make people resent DEI work.

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        Here in Canada we got Family Day in February. The idea was to spend the day doing something fun with your family. But for that to happen a lot of people with families have to work that day…

    3. Fiona Orange*

      If you want to celebrate diversity with a special day, have an all-staff potluck lunch where everyone brings food from their culture.

    4. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

      One day to acknowledge all forms of “diversity” seems bizarre and patronising to me.

      Organisations and team members should respect the diversity of their employees and coworkers all year round.

  6. Katara's side braids*

    Couldn’t get in on the comments on the original, but this whole approach bothers me so much. Most people are probably going to vote for whichever day is most desirable for them scheduling-wise. If most of the voters come from the majority culture, that means that minority observances are chosen/valued according to the whims and convenience of the majority, which should be exactly what “diversity” efforts are meant to avoid.

    1. Your Mate in Oz*

      I’ve worked with far too many contrary people. I can see this being utterly taken over by a popular campaign to get CEO’s birthday* listed as the diversity day and the actual date chosen to be one many people want off. New Year’s Day, for example. In Aotearoa we get both 1st and 2nd Jan off, so if you get the 1st you’d obviously make the 2nd “Diversity Day” :)

      * traditionally Queen’s Birthday or King’s Birthday is a public holiday for the peasants in countries still ruled by hereditary monarchs.

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        I don’t remember getting the queen’s birthday off when I was in England, although I know the Dutch get a day off for their monarch’s birthday.
        I do remember getting days off for royal weddings, because the subjects are supposed to want to flock to London and wave flags at the passing horse-drawn carriages.
        Then there are Jubilees to celebrate the length of the reign. Well, there was one in 2022 for the queen, now that there’s a king they’ll have to wait 25 years for the silver jubilee.

  7. Dawn*

    You see this going slightly wrong at some point?

    In the middle of the recent war in Israel/Gaza and in light of their “taking current world events into account” position I foresee this going really wrong really quickly.

    1. Silver Robin*

      sounds like the previous diversity day already happened, and the next on is not for another ~9 months and will be entirely unrelated to race, ethnicity, or creed. Since this sounds annual, the one after that is going to be in 2025. They have some time before they can fall into the lava pit of PR Nightmares.

    2. handfulofbees*

      Yeah I had the same thought. This definitely falls into the problem of holding an entire group to account for atrocities committed by a small number of people, which is horribly bigoted for what I hope are obvious reasons. Just look at the discrimination and violence that has taken place against Palestinians and Jews in the diasporas. Ugly stuff, and it’s something any smart HR would keep its hands out of.

    3. Turquoisecow*

      One of these days they’re going to hire a non-Christian who wants to take their holiday off and then they’re going to be appalled by…everything.

  8. Legally Blonde*

    Is anyone else wincing at “taking current world events into account if possible”? I’d really rather not have my holiday time affected by HR’s interpretations of world events…

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I’m so confused. Does this mean we’re all supposed to visit our gyno that day. Maybe get any birth control options renewed/updated?

      1. Michelle Smith*

        I think it means they picked a non-culturally specific holiday this time because they’re at least vaguely aware that picking a religious holiday right now could have some unintended implications about their position on Israel/Palestine?

        1. Observer*

          Like those are the only two choices….

          Which makes the whole thing worse. There are a LOT of other cultures they could pick. But a LOT of them are going to wind up implicated by world events. Chinese New Year? What about the Uighurs? Or the Tibetans? On the other hand, if you choose a Tibetan holiday, what about China? etc.

          I’m not going to get into every possible permutation, just *one* of the BIG ones.

        2. Charlotte Lucas*

          I see you don’t live in a state where there’s a fight over women’s bodily autonomy.

        3. Clare*

          Ah yes, because as ever good HR department knows the only real religions are the Abrahamic ones. Shinto? Buddhism? Pretty sure all those kinda things are just made-up for TV.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          Ha. As if you could actually get both of those scheduled on the same day and at the same location.

    2. Observer*

      Is anyone else wincing at “taking current world events into account if possible”? I’d really rather not have my holiday time affected by HR’s interpretations of world events…

      Yeah, I gasped at that. I mean, seriously?!

      Do these people not read the news?! Do they truly have NO IDEA of what goes on in many parts of the world?!

    3. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

      Yeah that definitely set off a major “eeeek” in my mind. I can think of a few possible interpretations and none that are good.

  9. Just Here for the Cake*

    Jesus, way to make everyone whose not white, male and Christian feel othered and tokenized.

    1. Potato Potato*

      It almost makes me wonder how many other groups they can alienate. Maybe World Mental Health Day is next, to remind another significant proportion of the population that we’re invisibly “diverse”? Coming Out Day would be another natural choice.

      1. Clare*

        Oooh oooh I’ve got a great idea! We can lump in the weird brains and weird bodies together by going with International Day of People with Disability! Gotta make sure we other as many people as we possibly can simultaneously! That’s how you do inclusivity!

    2. Not Boring*

      Seriously, I cringe a little every time my employer circulates an email patting themselves on the back about the number of “diverse” hires (meaning anyone who isn’t a heterosexual, cisgendered white Christian man, meaning cumulatively, most of the population). At some point the word “diverse” simply ceases to have any meaning.

  10. Sunny Delano Roosevelt*

    I am on our company’s DEI committee, and we also had to reckon with holidays. Our company had always had a floating holiday, but in the past few years, it was mandatorily coupled with a holiday that few people took off (Caesar Chavez Day) since it allowed for a 3-day weekend during a month where there wouldn’t normally be one.

    For 2023, we uncoupled the floating holiday and allowed it to be *truly* floating, so long as it was taken in conjunction with one of the 13 DEI-approved holiday (think Day of the Dead, Lunar New Year, Diwali, Eid al-Fitr, Yom Kippur) or the employee’s birthday. (Our company already allows for ten paid holidays.)

    We’ve already established the 2024 floating holiday schedule (same as 2023), but I realized that 2024 is an election year and we should include voting day as one of the floating holidays. I’ve been told that since the 2024 schedule has already been issued, we can’t amend it, but I’m going to continue pushing for employees to have the option to take the day off if they so choose.

    1. I do not think that phrase means what you think it means*

      wow, this would drive me nuts. it’s not a floating holiday if you can tell me when to use it.

      1. I Have RBF*


        My workplace has a floating “Cultural Day” – a holiday that you can take whenever suits you for whatever reason. I’m taking Yule/Winter Solstice off. There is no specification of when it could be taken, just that it must be used within the calendar year.

      1. Ted*

        Because then it becomes simply a general day off and no longer associated with this purpose. Eventually someone starts complaining that “you don’t honor the observance day important to ME”. People are weird and no solution works 100%

    2. Your Mate in Oz*

      You should call election day “Sausage Day”. Not for the candidates, and not for the quote about seeing how laws are made, but after your Australian cousins and their noble tradition of the democracy sausage sizzle at every polling booth. A tradition which I think the US should steal and if necessary claim to have invented.

        1. Clare*

          Pretty sure the snags are free in most places. If you’re giving money to fundraisers you’ve been fleeced, mate.

      1. Trixie the Great and Pedantic*

        That would certainly drive up voter turnout!

        Which is why they’ll never do it.

    3. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

      So if you mark a religion you don’t get your birthday day off but non religious people do?

      I can definitely imagine there being religious occasions which aren’t “HR approved.”

      I personally don’t really like the idea of extra religious holidays. I’m not religious, why should I get less leave because of that?

      None of it sits right with me at all.

  11. Vermonter*

    Having worked at one (1) workplace where Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur were scheduled holidays that everyone had off, it was actually pretty great to not worry about getting cover or that something might explode while I was away… but this ain’t that.

    1. Jewish Schedule*

      Wow, lucky you. I get mandatory important meetings or company fun days to miss. Last year a federal agency had a major conference on Yom Kippur.

      I remember spending a weekend in Borough Park as a teenager and marveling at public schools that ran 1/2 day Sunday, full day Monday-Thursday, 1/2 Friday and gave you Jewish holidays and fast days off.

      1. Ms. Murchison*

        The first employer I worked for that had any sort of “diversity” programming would hold a diversity all-staff training day, put together by the Diversity Team.

        The first year I was there, the Diversity All-Staff was scheduled on the second day of Rosh Hashanah.

    2. AnonORama*

      Ha, I worked for a law firm where all but one named partner was Jewish, and we (usually) had off Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Of course the Christian partner “borrowed” me and another Jewish associate for a big project through September, and helpfully explained that although we’d have to work the holidays, he’d have great food and snacks brought in! Usually great, but on Yom Kippur? Can you do 30 seconds of googling or just, you know, ask one of your colleagues? (TBH, it was worse for the other associate, who was religious and did feel like she had to complete the fast. I’m culturally Jewish/currently atheist, so I was only annoyed that I had to work while 90% of the firm was off.)

  12. PickleMum*

    This reminds me so much of my Dad.

    When he made partner at his old firm, he started celebrating completely random (non-American, minor holidays). He switched them up every year, but always tried to remember Waitangi Day, a New Zealand holiday, by bringing in a bunch of kiwis for people to snack on. Usually, though, he just brought in donuts or bought ice cream for everyone!

    1. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      as someone in the US currently employed by a company based in NZ, it’s very fun seeing the different NZ holidays and learning about them! Waitangi Day included.

    2. TeaCoziesRUs*

      Aww! This reminds me of my favorite gate guard at a military installation. When you go through the gate and show your ID, they’ll usually just say good morning/ afternoon/ evening, scan your ID, and wave you through. This lovely human would greet you by saying, “Happy Quack Like A Duck Day!” or whatever other silly thing was being celebrated. I loved leaving the gate with a goofy smile.

  13. Time for a change?*

    Given the insistence we should be/are a secular country maybe it is time to eliminate any holidays that are not directly to history. That of course includes Christmas. Then give every employee a set number of personal days in addition to regular PTO that they may use for religious (or other personal) observances.
    Aside – Christian White Female.

    1. handfulofbees*

      I like the idea on the surface, but logistically this wouldn’t work.

      I used to be a mailman. Christmas is a federal holiday, and the one moment USPS workers have to breathe throughout the insane holiday season (this continues to jan because of delayed parcels and returns). If every USPS worker had these floating days, demographically, most the USPS would take off for xmas and the days surrounding it, and the people not celebrating xmas would be left to pick up an insane amount of slack. Honestly, the amount of people it takes to move mail, the USPS would simply not be functional if everyone celebrating xmas took off at once. Makes way more sense to give everyone the day, even if some of us are celebrating with Chinese takeaway and a movie instead.

      1. Silver Robin*

        …you would still get it under this system? just, nobody else would have to take it off if they did not want to. Like me.

        1. Phony Genius*

          This is fine for any job where you can work from home. But if you would have to be on-site, would there be able to be enough support staff (supervision, building facilities/janitorial, security, etc.) to allow this to work without requiring some people to come in who don’t want to? And most blue-collar work would require entire teams to work at the same time. When a majority of the workers would take the day off, it makes sense to shut down for the day.

          In the same vein, I once saw a documentary about NYC public schools. They started closing on Jewish holidays not because of how many students would take the day off to observe, but because there would not be enough non-Jewish teachers to cover all of the classes. So all staff gets the day off, even if they don’t want it.

      2. Ms. Murchison*

        What Silver Robin said.
        A floating holiday wouldn’t take Christmas away from you. It would just stop you from forcing it on everyone else.

    2. spcepickle*

      Totally agree – Anyone employed by any level of US government should not have Christmas as a set Holiday. (It is in the only religious holiday we get I think almost everyone is done giving Easter Monday.). Instead give a floating holiday and let people take a day for whatever they want to celebrate.
      I would gladly trading working Christmas for a vacation day when travel was cheaper and easier.

      1. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

        My state government gives us Good Friday off, but they oh so cleverly disguise it by calling it “Spring Holiday.”

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          We get Christmas Eve and day off. But we also get 4.5 days of floating holidays. All our other set holidays are secular.

          I get the thought, but Christmas is celebrated by enough people that it’s just more practical for many employers to be closed that day. Yes, we live in a secular country, which is great. But we can’t ignore how big a deal Christmas is to many people in the US. I like the floating holidays, because they acknowledge both facts.

          I also worry that the most put-upon service employees would pay the price for a “Christmas is just another day to work” attitude.

          Of course, I think people in general need more time off.

          1. Doc in a Box*

            When I worked inpatient, I preferred the Christmas-to-NYE stretch. It’s sloooow as there are no scheduled surgeries or procedures; of course there are emergencies 24/7 but no post-operative spinal fusion patients in levels of pain that morphine drips couldn’t touch! New Year’s Eve was a wild ride and the source of many bizarre stories from the Emergency Department. I’ve dined out on some of those stories for a decade.

            Now as an outpatient doc, I take time off between the solstice and the new year. It’s not religious for me; it’s a time to reset at the literal darkest time of the year and focus on the things that matter most to me: my family, my writing, and my health.

          2. Flor*

            I agree!

            The company I worked for in the UK didn’t do floating holidays or anything like that, but what they *did* do was a very simple, very appreciated solution: they gave us fewer fixed days off and rolled more into our annual leave / PTO. The only fixed days off were Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, presumably on the basis that so many people would be booking those days off anyway (I heard from a couple of Indian colleagues that the place was dead every year on Christmas Eve).

            HOWEVER, I got 27 days of annual leave my first year, and more in subsequent years (for reference, the UK has a legal minimum of 28 days, but that includes any fixed days, so if you have all 8 bank holidays then employers are only required to provide 20 other days). 27+ days of annual leave gave most people enough leave to book off culturally significant days and have more general vacation time. It was only two days more than the legal minimum (which, I’m well aware, is much more generous than in North America), but because fewer days were fixed, it gave us much more flexibility to take the time when it suited us.

    3. Clare*

      I’m not from the USA, but I suspect there’s a lot of Indigenous American people who would be mildly put out if all of your big holidays were celebrating events related to the invasion of their country and the victories of the occupying forces (such as the 4th of July). Secular doesn’t equal fair or nice or uncontroversial.

      1. Silver Robin*

        Absolutely agreed (Oct-Nov is rapid fire on that front and a lot of the folks I follow dig in for all the nonsense that comes from Columbus Day, Halloween, and Thanksgiving).

        That said, it makes sense for a country to celebrate its own historical milestones. And if it is a theocracy, they can add their religious ones too. But the US claims not to be a theocracy and has this whole thing about freedom of religion. So, why not take away the religious holidays from the federal roster and focus on others instead?

        1. Ms. Murchison*

          I suspect if you tried you’d enrage of the US citizens who firmly believe that the US is a Christian country and that our founding documents are divine. And get accused of waging war on Christmas.
          *sighs wearily*

          1. Silver Robin*

            yeah, I never expect it to happen. it is annoying and frustrating but such a relative non issue and I can just imagine the culture war it would spark. there are other things better worth our time. still, I would not mind it if we actually made all federal/bank holidays truly about the nation and it’s history rather than something that reinforces Christianity as default

      2. Labrat*

        Columbus Day used to be a holiday we got off when I was in school. It’s not anymore. Of course, now it’s *also* Indigenous People Day…

      3. Krevin*

        You should do a quick google of 4th of July before leaving a comment about it. You don’t seem to know anything about the day or why it is celebrated.

      4. JustaTech*

        Clare, the Fourth of July is a celebration of the end of British rule, something that is celebrated approximately every 6 days around the world.

        Honestly, it is the most global holiday the US celebrates, for all that it is the celebration of the establishment of the country.

        1. Clare*

          My point is that there were a whole lot of little countries all over the continent that were crushed in order for the one big country to be established. Some people think that’s a good thing, some people don’t. As a person who is living outside of the US it’s safe for me to say this: not everyone thinks the establishment of the US as a country was a good thing. I’m not suggesting that it should be dismantled or anything, just that citizens of the US need to be aware that they live on stolen land and that’s upsetting to some. Establishing first dibs on stolen goods isn’t noble. Many of the other countries celebrating the end of British rule have been returned to the original owners (even if not in quite the same condition). Indian independence and US independence straight up don’t equate, and it’s naive to think they do.

      5. It Actually Takes a Village*

        Yes, I agree with Clare. Not sold on the “historical” value here.

        This would be pretty terrible for most colonized nations.

    4. Lily Rowan*

      I’m pretty sure people I know who work office jobs connected to hospitals have that — or, actually, no automatic holidays at all. Because of course the folks working on actual medical stuff don’t get to close down, either. In practice, it’s fine for the office to be closed on Christmas, 4th of July, etc., so everyone can get those days off, but they do have to submit for them. (The leave bank is big enough to account for this.)

  14. Sunny*

    Am I the only one thinking “I was today years old when I learned about Women’s Equality Day”?

  15. Hashtag Destigmatize Therapy*

    Which is worse: the fact that they thought “Diversity Day” was a good idea in the first place, or the fact that they are doing such a terrible job of taking feedback seriously? The change they did make is a textbook example of “listening” to feedback without really listening to it.

  16. Velawciraptor*

    HR’s solution here was so out of pocket I had to stop myself from yelling “THE F***!?!” at my desk. What on earth are any of these people thinking?

    1. Magenta Sky*

      Why on earth do you believe there’s any thinking involved? Clearly, there’s not. They’re parroting what they read on some web page.

  17. Beverly*

    This reminds me of when my (large, multi-national) employer created a landing page with a “diversity calendar,” which included holidays from a number of different traditions and religions. The company had historically been pretty thoughtless about DEI, especially when it came to race, so this felt like a sop to “prove” they cared.

    Among the many errors on this calendar (heavily cribbed from a listicle) was a section that listed Passover as an “Egyptian holiday.” Needless to say, it quickly disappeared from our website and was never spoken of again.

    1. Observer*

      Among the many errors on this calendar (heavily cribbed from a listicle) was a section that listed Passover as an “Egyptian holiday.”

      That is both horrifying and hysterically funny! Who on earth allowed that to go up?!

    2. handfulofbees*

      This is hilarious. I mean, Egypt is definitely involved…we mention Egypt a lot…there’s a whole movie called ‘The Prince of Egypt’…wdym it’s not an Egyptian holiday

  18. Middle of Nowhere*

    My work is equally out of touch. A company in the middle of extremely rural Pennsylvania gives employees Juneteenth off, and then brags on social media about recognizing the end of slavery. This is a company in BFE where there are zero people of color working for the company.

    1. Worldwalker*

      And why is this a bad thing?

      Should they only recognize Veterans’ Day if they have ex-military people working for the company?

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Because performative DEI is counterproductive and harmful? I don’t have a problem with companies giving people federal holidays off, but patting themselves on the back for it while having zero racial diversity in the company and seemingly doing nothing at all for DEI that they should get credit for feels off, without even knowing more about this company that what was just shared.

        1. YetAnotherAnalyst*

          I don’t know if this counts as performative DEI, though? It really depends. To hire a more diverse and inclusive workforce you have to convince folks you’re trying to be inclusive, particularly if your current workforce is all one demographic. There’s a risk to taking a job where you stick out, and that goes treble for rural areas (where there are very few jobs and few workers, so folks are maybe more willing to excuse outright bigotry as “that’s just how Name is”). Publicly celebrating Juneteenth isn’t exactly radical (it’s a federal holiday!), but I’d take it as a statement that bigots will at least be expected to keep it under wraps at work.

  19. Strict Extension*

    Conversation with an outside partner:

    Them: “Okay, can we set that meeting for October 11th…wait, no. That’s Yom Kippur. I remember from last year that you all are closed.”
    OP: “No, we’re here on Yom Kippur. This year we had Women’s Equality Day off instead.”

    1. Catwhisperer*

      Them: “Oh, interesting. Why that day?”
      OP: “[Workplace] wants to honor the customs and beliefs of different cultures each year. This year the culture is women.”

  20. Sunny Delano Roosevelt*

    I’m on our company’s DEI committee, and we updated our “floating holiday” approach for the 2023 holiday calendar.
    Previously, our company’s floating holiday was tethered to Cesar Chavez Day, ostensibly to provide a 3-day weekend at a time where there wouldn’t normally be one, so it wasn’t actually floating in any true sense.
    Upon the formation of our DEI committee, we established 13 holidays that employees could take as their floating holiday, including their birthday. (Those 13 were over and above the nine existing holidays that the company offers.)
    For 2024, I’ve suggested that we add Voting Day to the list. I’ve been told that since 2024’s calendar has already been established, it would have to wait until 2025 (uh, hellloooooo). I’m going to keep advocating for that date to be added in.

      1. I Have RBF*

        Me too. It would be a nod toward citizen participation in our government, etc. plus a celebration of our system of elections.

  21. BigLawEx*

    Me: Maybe I’ll get back into corporate America.
    Also me: NO! It’s full of weird bees, many of whom are in HR.

    I. Can’t. Even. With. This. OMG.

  22. Charlotte Lucas*

    So, for Women’s Equality Day, should I assume they’re going to do a full review of how women’s salaries and positions in the company hierarchy compare to those of the men? With special reference to women of color or members of otherwise underemployed populations?

    I mean, I could get behind that kind of observance.

  23. AD*

    Im an American living in a non us country which is known for being multi cultural in an office which is particularly so. Having a floating holiday which is to be used for a cultural holiday not observed in the country I reside has been such a gift, both for those from this country and foreigners like me! In previous years I have taken off for Fourth of July and this year I did Thanksgiving. Everyone seems to enjoy it and we all talk about what we do for the holiday back home if the leave day is coming up

  24. Lilard*

    so we definitely work at the same company. I was shocked that despite the complaints from people they decided to go through with it anyways. I am hopeful with new leadership it’s worth raising the issue again.

  25. Elle by the sea*

    I know someone who worked for a company where the HR person arranged for ham bagels to celebrate Hanukkah. The company prided itself on being a diverse and “woke” workplace.

    1. JustaTech*

      Ham. Bagels.

      Donuts are right there! They’re a Hanukkah food! Folks like donuts! It’s a fried food holiday! They’re easy!

      For land’s sake.

  26. anonny*

    Can I throw National Kazoo Day (January 28th) into the mix? Every employee gets a day off and a kazoo. Or possibly just the kazoo. I’m sure HR will appreciate the serenades of tootling.

  27. MissouriGirl in LA*

    Oh…the commentariat…I so love you guys. Thank you for the laugh. However, living in Louisiana, we get Mardi Gras as a holiday. I don’t know if one would call this diversity but the Cajun/Creole culture down here is very important to many and despite the amount of adult beverages that are consumed, there is a real history to all of this.

    As for National Kazoo Day. I’m in. Jan 28, I will break out my kazoo and celebrate. (and don’t tempt me by serenading our HR people. Not only are ours clueless, but they continually break the law).

    1. JustaTech*

      I totally understand why you would get Mardi Gras as a holiday! It’s a holiday with extra special regional importance.

      And honestly, sometimes it makes sense to give holidays because it’s just too hard to get to work on that day. For example: my high school was in Boston, a block from the finish line of the Boston Marathon. When I was a student we had school that day, but everyone was late because the subway stop there was closed, so you had to get off at least one stop earlier and walk, and it was incredibly crowded in the afternoon. Now the school has that day off, so that you don’t spend half the day struggling through the sweaty runner crowds.

  28. Rebecca in HR*

    Their refusal to go with a floating holiday that will allow everyone to celebrate whatever is important to them is simply baffling

    1. Corrigan*

      Right? Just give people a floating “personal significance day”. That’s what my last two employers did and it made so much sense.

  29. Billi Dee*

    I’m a South Asian Hindu and the idea of allowing my coworkers to vote on one of my holidays and possibly deem it “worthy” enough to warrant providing a day off (which would really be less about the significance of that day to Hindus and more about whether folks want that particular day off) is really, really gross.

    Trying to celebrate important days that your coworkers and neighbors are either unaware of or just entirely ignore is already weird enough without this terrible addition to that weirdness.

  30. Irish Teacher*

    In addition to everything else wrong here, if I heard of a company treating this as their “diversity day,” with no other context, I’d wonder if it was a case of, ” hey, we’re totally diverse. We don’t only have white middle class cis men working here. We also have white middle class cis WOMEN.”

  31. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

    I don’t know whether to laugh, cry, or cringe that the Diversity Day idea, especially the voting element!

    The original letter says the workplace is mostly white, but if there are a proportionate number of women working there you might find they understand why the concept is so patronising and bizarre when it clearly applies to them.

    Then again, it sounds like many of your colleagues totally get that anyway, and it’s just the organisation’s leadership that doesn’t.

    I suppose they want to feel all good about themselves and highlight that they support “diversity” so they can’t bear to let go of the idea.

    I’m surprised it doesn’t veer into any legal issues, especially the voting!

    Voting! I just… imagine how fraught that could get.

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