Diversity and Inclusion

How to Incorporate DEI Holidays for a More Inclusive Workplace

February 9, 2024
February 9, 2024
Sarah Lindenfeld Hall
Lattice Team

While most companies offer employees the day off on federal holidays like Memorial Day, there are plenty of other holidays employees may wish to observe as well. When your corporate calendar incorporates holidays aimed at promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) within your workforce, employees notice the initiative.

“While HR teams may be tempted to move DEIB down the priority list, the talent they are seeking to attract and maintain are keeping it front and center in their expectations,” explained Regina Ross, chief people officer at Khan Academy, in our 2024 State of People Strategy Report. “Employees today place more emphasis than ever before on the alignment between company culture and their personal values.”

Because some holidays may be more relevant to your workforce than others, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) experts say you should be thoughtful as you contemplate offering diversity holidays. This article can serve as a starting point as you consider which DEI holidays to include in your company’s calendar for 2024 and beyond.

What are diversity, equity, and inclusion holidays?

DEI holidays — diversity, equity, and inclusion holidays — are observances that matter to individuals of certain races, religions, ethnicities, abilities, and sexual orientations. Some DEI holidays are celebrations, while others are holy days, festivals, or days of remembrance. 

DEI holidays may also celebrate the value of diversity, equity, and inclusion and how they enrich our lives and workplaces.

Identifying Key Diversity Holidays for Your Workplace

Workplaces and communities are composed of people from a wide variety of backgrounds, and dozens of holidays and observances celebrate and acknowledge diversity. While you won’t necessarily offer a day off work for each DEI holiday, adding them to your calendar can still show employees you care.

“It’s a significant signal,” said Kevin L. James, associate professor at the Willie A. Deese College of Business and Economics at North Carolina A&T State University. “I don’t know if it tells me that you really understand my culture, but it does tell me that you’re making an effort to recognize my culture and my identity, and that makes me more likely to feel like you’re the company that I can join and begin to thrive.”

As you start to craft your calendar of DEI holidays, consider the following tips to help you select the observances you’ll add.

Think about your workforce.

Start by informing yourself about the demographic breakdown of employees at your organization. Exactly what holidays you select, said James, will depend on your goals and who your employees and customers are. If a company relies on the Latinx community, for example, he’d advise choosing holidays that mean something to them.

But you should be careful to avoid assumptions about what holidays matter to individual employees. Your team members may come from diverse family backgrounds or may hold personal commitments to inclusivity, for example.

Involve stakeholders. 

Include the board of directors and other company leaders in discussions about which diversity holidays to observe. Bill Hertan, owner of strategic management and diversity consultancy TRI Partners, Inc., also advised reaching out to your employees by forming a task force or launching a survey to find out what diversity holidays would mean the most to them. 

Finally, ensure legal and HR teams are clear about the intent and implementation of observed holidays to support inclusivity and understanding.

2024 DEI Calendar

Below, we’ve provided a sample calendar of holidays that are inclusive of diverse religious, cultural, and individual identities. Our list of DEI holidays ranges from February 2024 through January 2025.

February 2024:

All month: Black History Month, American Heart Month

  • February 1: National Freedom Day
  • February 4: Rosa Parks Day
  • February 10: Lunar New Year (Year of the Dragon)
  • February 11: International Day of Women and Girls in Science
  • February 14: Ash Wednesday
  • February 15: Nirvana Day and International Childhood Cancer Day
  • February 19: Family Day (Canada)
  • February 20: World Day of Social Justice

March 2024:

All month: Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, Women’s History Month, Gender Equality Month, National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, Greek American Heritage Month, Irish American Heritage Month

  • March 8: International Women’s Day and Maha Shivaratri
  • March 10: Ramadan begins (tentative)
  • March 12: Equal Pay Day
  • March 17: St. Patrick’s Day
  • March 21: World Down Syndrome Day and the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  • March 23-24: Purim
  • March 24: Palm Sunday
  • March 25: Holi and the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade
  • March 31: Easter, César Chávez Day, and International Transgender Day of Visibility

April 2024:

All month: Celebrate Diversity Month, Autism Acceptance Month, Arab American Heritage Month, National Child Abuse Prevention Month

  • April 2: World Autism Awareness Day
  • April 5: Laylat al-Qadr (tentative)
  • April 9: Eid al-Fitr / end of Ramadan (tentative)
  • April 12: National Day of Silence
  • April 21: Start of Riḍván
  • April 22: Passover begins
  • April 30: Passover ends

May 2024:

All month: Mental Health Awareness Month, National Asian American and South Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Jewish American Heritage Month, ALS Awareness Month, Haitian Heritage Month, National Native American Heritage Month, Older Americans Month

  • May 2: Last day of Riḍván
  • May 5: Cinco de Mayo
  • May 12: Mother’s Day
  • May 17: International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia
  • May 21: World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development
  • May 23: Vesak

June 2024:

All month: Pride Month (LGBTQ+), National Caribbean American Heritage Month, Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

  • June 9: Race Unity Day
  • June 11: Shavuot begins
  • June 12: Loving Day
  • June 13: Shavuot ends
  • June 16: Father’s Day and Eid al-Adha begins (tentative) 
  • June 19: Juneteenth and Eid al-Adha ends (tentative) 
  • June 20: World Refugee Day
  • June 21: National Indigenous Peoples Day (Canada)
  • June 28: International Pride Day

July 2024:

All month: French American Heritage Month

  • July 7-8: Al-Hijra (Islamic New Year)
  • July 18: Nelson Mandela International Day
  • July 26: National Disability Independence Day
  • July 28: Parents’ Day
  • July 30: International Friendship Day

August 2024:

All month: National Civility Month, Black Business Month, National Wellness Month

  • August 7: Purple Heart Day
  • August 9: International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
  • August 13: International Left-Handers’ Day
  • August 17: Marcus Garvey Day
  • August 19: World Humanitarian Day
  • August 21: World Senior Citizens’ Day
  • August 26: Women’s Equality Day and Krishna Janmashtami

September 2024:

All month: National Suicide Prevention Month, National Guide Dog Month
September 15 to October 15: Hispanic Heritage Month

  • September 5: International Day of Charity
  • September 8: Grandparents’ Day
  • September 10: World Suicide Prevention Day
  • September 16: Mexican Independence Day
  • September 21: International Day of Peace
  • September 22: American Business Women’s Day
  • September 30: National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (Canada)

October 2024:

All month: Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Global Diversity Awareness Month, National Learning and Development Month, National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Filipino American History Month, German American Heritage Month, Italian American Heritage and Culture Month, LGBTQ+ History Month, National Work and Family Month, Polish American Heritage Month

  • October 2: International Day of Non-Violence and Rosh Hashanah begins
  • October 4: Rosh Hashanah ends
  • October 10: World Mental Health Day
  • October 11: National Coming Out Day
  • October 11-12: Yom Kippur
  • October 14: Indigenous Peoples’ Day
  • October 16: Sukkot begins
  • October 17: Spirit Day
  • October 23: Sukkot ends
  • October 29: Diwali begins

November 2024:

All month: National Diabetes Month, National Native American Heritage Month

  • November 1-2: Día de Muertos
  • November 3: Diwali ends
  • November 9: World Freedom Day and World Adoption Day
  • November 11: Remembrance Day
  • November 16: International Day for Tolerance
  • November 20: Universal Children’s Day and Transgender Day of Remembrance
  • November 29: National Native American Heritage Day

December 2024:

All month: HIV/AIDS Awareness Month, Universal Human Rights Month

  • December 1: World AIDS Day
  • December 3: International Day of Persons With Disabilities
  • December 9: International Genocide Prevention Day
  • December 10: International Human Rights Day
  • December 25: Christmas Day and Hanukkah begins at sunset
  • December 26: Boxing Day and Kwanzaa begins

January 2025:

All month: National Poverty in America Awareness Month, National Human Trafficking Prevention Month

  • January 1: New Year’s Day and Kwanzaa ends
  • January 2: Hanukkah ends at sunset
  • January 4: World Braille Day
  • January 7: Coptic Orthodox Christmas
  • January 10: Asarah B'Tevet
  • January 14: Makar Sankranti and Mahayana New Year (tentative)
  • January 20: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • January 26-27: Isra and Mi'raj
  • January 27: International Holocaust Remembrance Day
  • January 29: Lunar New Year (Year of the Snake)

Communicating Holiday Observances to Employees Effectively

When you start incorporating new DEI holidays at your company, you’ll want to communicate what’s happening and why. As Hertan said, you should explain your goal, which should be to make your company the most productive and welcoming organization possible.

To do that, give your managers the right language to explain what’s happening by providing one-on-one or group coaching or a script, Hertan recommended. Outline how and when you will inform employees about the observance of diversity holidays and awareness days.

Here are some tips for communicating with employees about your company’s DEI holidays:

  • Emphasize the significance of each holiday. Provide educational resources or brief descriptions that explain the history and importance of each observed holiday.
  • Use multiple channels for communication. Leverage emails, intranet posts, company meetings, and internal social media to ensure broad reach.
  • Foster an inclusive dialogue. Encourage open discussions and invite employees to share their personal experiences or knowledge related to these holidays.
  • Highlight the company’s commitment to diversity. Use this opportunity to reiterate the organization's dedication to fostering an inclusive workplace.
  • Provide context for observance choices. Whenever possible, explain the rationale behind selecting certain holidays for observance to ensure transparency.
  • Encourage participation, but don’t require it. Make it clear that participation in holiday observances is encouraged but entirely voluntary.
  • Address any changes to regular schedules. Clearly communicate any alterations to work hours or holiday-specific activities in advance.
  • Offer resources for further learning. Provide links or suggestions for employees who wish to discover more about the holidays and their cultural significance.

Managing Budget Constraints When Adding New Holidays

Most companies can’t add a dozen new paid holidays to their work calendar, but there are other ways to recognize holidays and make your workplace more inclusive.

To help find a balance between recognizing diversity holidays and maintaining business operations and productivity, consider the following tips:

Offer flexible personal days for diversity holidays.

Let employees decide what diversity holidays they’ll celebrate by giving them a specific number of days off to do it, Hertan said. You would likely still offer some fixed US holidays, such as Christmas and Labor Day, but your workers would have some flexibility in how they celebrate others.

Highlight workforce diversity regularly.

Use internal communications to acknowledge different cultural celebrations among employees. Share information about various diversity holidays, how they are celebrated, and related local events. Offer access to materials and resources for employees to learn about the significance of various diversity holidays.

Encourage volunteerism and community involvement.

Implement an annual working holiday and organize a firm-wide community service day for employees to engage with and learn about local diversity. Highlight opportunities for employees to participate in community activities related to diversity holidays.

Explore cost-effective ways to celebrate DEI holidays.

If your company can’t offer time off for a holiday but wants to recognize it, consider options like cultural potlucks, guest speakers, or virtual events to honor diversity holidays without significant financial impact. You could also utilize online tools and platforms for remote celebrations or awareness sessions, reducing costs associated with physical events.

6 Ways to Incorporate DEI Holidays in the Workplace

As you look for ways to build a more inclusive workforce, remember that it’s not just about adding Juneteenth or Buddhist holidays to your calendar. DEI best practices go much deeper than that, and they should also include recruiting diverse talent, building programs that prepare all workers for success, and getting buy-in from your C-suite.

“The company’s leaders have to step up,” said Shalanna Pirtle, the chief talent, diversity, and inclusion officer for and partner at law firm Parker Poe. “It has to be top-down leadership, and they have to be willing to engage in these conversations.”

Beyond that, here are six specific ways to incorporate DEI holidays and initiatives at your organization.

1. Regular DEI Information Sharing

Utilize internal communication channels like Slack or Microsoft Teams to regularly share information about diverse national events and observances.

Create an open forum for employees to discuss and engage with DEI topics, fostering ongoing learning and awareness.

2. Interactive Cultural Workshops and Webinars

Host workshops or webinars led by cultural experts or historians to provide deeper insights into various DEI holidays and their significance.

Include interactive elements like question-and-answer sessions to encourage active participation and engagement.

3. Diversity-Focused Book Clubs or Movie Nights

Organize book clubs or movie nights featuring works that relate to upcoming DEI holidays, followed by guided discussions or debrief sessions.

4. Community Engagement Initiatives

Align DEI holidays with community service or volunteer activities that reflect the values and themes of these observances.

Partner with local organizations or charities to create meaningful opportunities for employees to give back and learn.

5. Employee-Led Cultural Presentations

Invite employees from diverse backgrounds to lead presentations or talks about DEI holidays they observe, sharing personal stories and traditions.

6. Virtual Cultural Experiences

For remote or hybrid teams, arrange virtual cultural experiences like online museum tours, cooking classes, or musical performances related to DEI holidays.

Build better DEI strategies with Lattice.

In Lattice’s 2024 State of People Strategy Report, 17% of HR leaders said DEIB was a top priority for their team. If your team prioritizes diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging efforts too, incorporating DEI holidays into your corporate calendar is a great way to show it.

When selecting DEI holidays to add to your company calendar, think about your workforce and involve stakeholders. After you’ve selected the holidays, support your new DEI calendar with a clear communication strategy, explanations for the dates chosen, and resources for further learning. Consider offering flexible personal days for diversity holidays or look for other ways to acknowledge diversity company-wide. 

Remember, there’s more to DEI than just holidays, but acknowledging them can mean a lot to your employees. For more meaningful dates, critical HR compliance deadlines, and everything else you need to set your team up for success this year, download Lattice’s 2024 HR Calendar.