Tanenbaum’s policy allowing employees to swap one of the holidays where our office is closed for another holiday of their choosing was not inclusive of those who are atheist, agnostic, or unaffiliated.
Tanenbaum’s office closes for four religious holidays including Christmas and three Jewish holidays in honor of our namesake. To accommodate our religiously diverse staff, Tanenbaum’s holiday swapping policy allowed employees to work on these holidays and then take off a holiday of their choosing. Years ago, an employee came to me, concerned that this policy did not include her. She was religiously unaffiliated and didn’t have any holidays she wanted to take off. She did, however, have a day that was personally important — the anniversary of her mother’s death — and she wanted to take this day off instead. We not only agreed to her request, but also changed the policy’s language so staff could swap for a “holiday” or a “day of personal significance,” thereby providing greater flexibility to observe or celebrate important days.
This policy is still used by Tanenbaum employees of all faiths and none to take off days such as Good Friday, the Eid, or days of personal significance. Tanenbaum employees express appreciation for the open-ended and inclusive nature of this policy. As a smaller, secular and non-sectarian non-profit, implementing holiday swapping was straightforward for us. We know that larger companies in different industries may not be able to implement this exact policy, but we work with companies to find other solutions — floating holidays, paid time-off banks, etc. — that work for them and their cultures — the way holiday swapping works for Tanenbaum.
The CEO Diversity Pledge is the right thing to do – and the smart thing to do. The breadth of its vision and the power of those committed are a necessary next step toward respectful workplaces.