Do you see your coworkers wearing something orange-ish at work today? Does it seem unusual? If you were born and brought up in Australia, I am sure you know what I am talking about. Yes, orange is the color people wear to show support for Harmony Day or rather Harmony Week.
What is Harmony Day or a Harmony Week?
In the current world of globalization, people travel worldwide and stay away from their birthplaces. That is why embracing diverse cultures becomes very important. With this regard, the Australian government introduced Harmony Day. The day, especially for the elimination of racial discrimination prevalent in the country.
Held on 21 March, Harmony Day or Harmony week is where Australians celebrate their cultural diversity. Australia is one of the most multicultural countries globally. Here, around 49% of the population were born overseas or one parent who was. The day honors and celebrates everyone's identity, inclusivity, and sense of belonging.
Harmony Day focuses on paying respect to everyone calling Australia home. Irrespective of their skin color, ethnicity, language, etc. It promotes social cohesion and racial harmony. Because this day coincides with the United Nations International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
However, Harmony Day events typically span a whole week of celebrations.
Thus, Harmony Day has been renamed Harmony Week. Mainly as it covers the entire week with events and activities at workplaces and educational institutions.
Harmony Day in the Workplace
Celebrating diversity is a necessity, be it at any place. In the workplace, there are people from hundreds of different cultural backgrounds. And this is where harmony week celebration holds vast importance.
Racial discrimination at work is pervasive. In Australia, around 10 percent of employees are subjected to racial slurs regularly. Thus, racial discrimination still exists in society. Therefore, it becomes vital to encourage employees to bond with one another.
As per research, workplaces where employees feel included and acknowledged drive them to be more productive. It eventually leads to better business performance. As an employer, it is your responsibility to promote a diverse culture at work. You ought to make the work environment harmonious for your employees.
If employers showcase their strong commitment to diversity, it will lead to inclusive, open, and respectful work culture. This way, individuals from different countries will feel welcomed and comfortable.
Then what are you waiting for? Start celebrating Harmony week at work and break those cultural barriers making the world a great place to live in.
Bring a change in your Workplace
Every organization's work culture must address and tackle racism in its own ways. Few steps can prove to be helpful when promoting acceptance and respect in your workplace:
Follow what you preach. Lead the way by giving respect to every person, regardless of background, by promoting their culture.
Address the acts of racism at work professionally, instead of discarding it.
Spread the knowledge about Harmony Week amongst the employees and highlight the significance of supporting cultural diversity.
Lend a hand to the workers who are facing mistreatment in terms of race and ethnicity.
Not that difficult now, is it?
Employers are responsible for the well-being of their employees at work- both physical and mental health. So, when the time comes to be there and support the workforce, it becomes a kind of obligation.
Policies around Racial Discrimination
Prevention of workplace discrimination is one of the critical areas an HR manager should be focusing on. As an HR professional, you must clearly understand the intensity of cultural bias and harassment at work. Also, support them on such crucial issues.
Employers must follow a no-tolerance policy for racial discrimination. Unfair treatment and bigotry because of one's appearance or origins cannot be tolerated or accepted. And employees who receive such slurs deserve to get a support system in the form of their employers.
So, let Harmony Day be a reminder to develop policies addressing discrimination and therefore implement them in the organization accordingly.
Harmony Day Activities
Harmony Week or Harmony Day is celebrated for a long time now. However, the activities do not have to be as grand as the day is. They can be anything and everything which can engage your employees. They can be big or small, easy or challenging, and can take any form you wish.
Morning tea with colleagues or a guest speaker at a staff meeting can also mean celebration. Infact, this gives one a platform to talk, share and accept the differences and similarities of one another, thereby fostering unity in the workplace.
Therefore, below mentioned are some of the harmony day events which are the simplest to implement.
Bring ethnic dishes- Have a potluck session. Ask all the employees to bring an ethnic dish from their cultural background and share it.
Discuss stories- Let the employees communicate with one another so that they get comfortable enough to share stories and have discussions. This will be a great way to break any barrier there exists in terms of culture.
Make it a Sports theme- Celebrate Harmony Day this year with a sports theme. Bring every employee together to play a team game. Each team must have individuals belonging from other cultural backgrounds.
Hold Art & Craft sessions- Hold art sessions to engage your workforce in crafting some art. Also, make it a cultural theme so that the staff can create anything that symbolizes their culture.
Wear traditional Costumes- Ask your employees whether they are willing to dress up in their traditional outfits as a gesture of sharing heritage. Along with being a traditional day, the office would look colorful as well.
With everything being said, it leaves us with one question- why orange?
Orange is a color that signifies social communication, also leading to freedom of ideas and mutual respect. Therefore, the question should be- why not orange?
So, wear orange. Carry it. And show your support for cultural diversity and inclusiveness together with spreading the key message of Harmony Day - everyone belongs.