Here at Hollaway, our employees have emphasized that in-person engagements are important to them. As we all attempt to navigate a work environment and society that the COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed, we want to be both cautious and intentional about when and how we plan any team gatherings and encourage the team to attend.
We hold several engagements that are voluntary for employees to attend where they can discuss their professional experiences and projects they may be working on, network among each other, exchange ideas, point out areas for improvement internally, or bring up anything else they deem necessary for the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging (DEI&B) Committee, Executive Team members, and supervisors to address. These opportunities for discussion are offered through DEI&B Committee meetings, departmental Round Table discussions, “Coffee Chats” with our CEO, etc. However, it is just as important for us to plan voluntary in-person engagements to give our team a chance to divert their focus from work and allow our team to socialize.
In December, the DEI&B Committee hosted a Multicultural Potluck. Last year, when we began this event, we asked employees to bring in a dish representative of their cultural background/a personal comfort food to give us insight into who we are and share things we enjoy. This year, team members who attended the Multicultural Potluck brought a dish or entrée from a different cultural identity than their own. Team members were also asked to highlight the significance (if applicable) of their dish of choice as well as why they enjoy it.Food is a profound cultural identifier, as an array of proteins, vegetables, and spices that are regularly consumed can easily differ depending on the region, country, or even city in the world in consideration. These can be familial recipes passed down through generations or an exchange for culinary ideas. Ultimately, the DEI&B Committee hosts the potluck to inspire genuine cultural exchange (sharing ideas, traditions, and stories) and promote cultural competence (awareness of beliefs, values, and cultures other than yours). We believe there is no better way to encourage the Hollaway team to get together than using the grand unifier: food! We hope that others find inspiration to employ this form of cultural exchange and embrace the opportunity to connect with friends and acquaintances that may be a part of different cultures.