December 2023

Month-long observances:

HIV/AIDS Awareness Month

December 1st marks World AIDS Day and the start of HIV/AIDS Awareness Month. There are an estimated 37 million people living with HIV today, making this an important topic of discussion, especially since AIDS claims about 2 million lives every year. The more information we can share and the more resources we can support, the more we can prevent the spread of HIV and support those affected with better treatment, and hopefully one day a cure. 

Observance Suggestion: While opinions on HIV/AIDS have evolved since it was first discovered decades ago, a stigma still exists. Recognize the impact the epidemic has had on the world while sharing up-to-date information about prevention and treatment as part of your employee communications. 

Universal Human Rights Month

We’re living in a world where it’s easy to connect to a diverse range of people, no matter where they are or what their beliefs are. This month, we work to make deeper connections and have conversations that open up our understanding. Regardless of race, religion, background, beliefs, or traditions, we are all human and all deserve basic human rights. 

Observance Suggestion: Book a speaker to talk about the rights some people have and others don’t but should. Learn what you can do to make your own organization’s culture more equitable in rights, and perhaps share that information with those you partner with so they can do the same.

Important D&I calendar dates:

December 1 – World AIDS Day (same every year)

The theme for World AIDS Day 2023 is “Let Communities Lead.” More than just a celebration of the progress made to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS or a day to remember the millions of lives lost in this epidemic, this year’s theme is a call to action to empower those impacted by AIDS to continue to lead the way in policy and treatment innovations.

Observance Suggestion: Connect with an AIDS advocacy organization in your community for ways your organization can help to empower their work. 

December 2 – International Day for the Abolition of Slavery (Same every year)

On December 2nd, 1949, the General Assembly of the United Nations made a promise to end modern forms of slavery. This includes such acts as sexual exploitation, human trafficking, child labor, forced marriage, and forced recruitment of children for armed conflict.

Observance Suggestion: Commit to ethical labor sourcing in your partnerships. Do your research on your current supplier list and ensure they aren’t using child or forced labor, and join efforts to push for more ethical practices in your industry. 

December 3 – International Day for People with Disabilities (same every year)

Disability comes in many forms and has many different impacts on individuals and society as a whole. Our current approaches to disability inclusion barely scratch the surface. This day is a reminder that intentionally including disabled people, particularly when societal decisions are being made, benefits us all. 

Observance Suggestion: Assess your organization’s policies and procedures through the lens of the most commonly required accommodations across a broad spectrum of disabilities. Be sure to include the voices of disabled employees. Create a roadmap for inclusion and accessibility as a community.

December 5 – International Volunteer Day

Today we celebrate the millions of volunteers who donate their time, efforts, and knowledge to their communities. Their kindness and generosity break down the barriers of gatekeeping and allow equity to exist more freely. 

Observance Suggestion: Provide PTO for employees to volunteer their time/energy/knowledge to an organization important to them.

December 9 – Genocide Prevention Day

Founded by the UN in 2015, Genocide Prevention Day serves as a day to remember those lost to the horrors of genocide and a call to action to push for the prevention of this crime. 

Observance Suggestion: Find an existing organization that inspires global efforts for victims of genocides. Volunteer to work alongside them and encourage employees to do the same.

December 10 – International Human Rights Day

Each person is born with human rights, regardless of where they are born in this world. International Human Rights Day celebrates and honors these freedoms as the standard that all nations can share. In 1948, the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Today, we are able to respect this declaration by extending our appreciation for all people in our growing and connecting world.

Observance Suggestion: Hire a speaker to share stories of marginalized people and their fights for human rights. Ask questions on how you can help.

December 7-15 – Hanukkah begins at sunset (Jewish)

This 8-day Festival of Lights commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple and is a prominent piece of Jewish history. Each night, families light another candle on the menorah and recite their blessings. 

Observance Suggestion: Be mindful of scheduling evening meetings and overnight events during this time. 

December 21 – Winter Solstice/Yule (Pagan, Northern Hemisphere)

The Winter Solstice marks when nights become longer than days in the Northern Hemisphere, but it’s also seen as a mystical day of rebirth in many cultures. Today Pagans honor the rich history of solstice celebrations through their traditions such as burning paper lanterns to mark the end of the year.

Observance Suggestion: Give your employees the gift of the shortest workday of the year with advanced notice about extra time off to recover from or prepare for the rest of the holiday season. 

December 25 – Christmas (Christian)

Christians observe Christmas as the birth of the son of God on earth, however, the traditions of Christmas that have gained popularity in recent centuries are enjoyed by many regardless of their religion. This includes the idea of the Christmas spirit of generosity and charity. 

Observance Suggestion: Provide employees with opportunities to give to community members in need by delivering gifts to local children or donating holiday fare to the area food bank. 

December 26 – Kwanzaa begins

Kwanzaa is a cultural seven-day celebration full of gifts, community, and African values including the seven principles of Kwanzaa. Even though many people in the United States mistake it as a religious holiday akin to Hanukkah, it is African culture and traditions, not religion. 

Observance Suggestion: Share the Kwanzaa principles within your organization and encourage reflection on how they relate to your culture: unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.

December 26 – Boxing Day (Great Britain and Commonwealth countries)

Known as one of the busiest shopping days of the year in the United Kingdom, Boxing Day comes from the church’s practice of opening alms boxes the day after Christmas and distributing the money to the poor. 

Observance Suggestion: Honor those who work for you by giving them a bonus. This could be in money or in the form of something that would make doing work and life easier.

December 31 – New Year’s Eve

As the last day of the calendar year, we say goodbye to one year and welcome in the possibilities of a new one. This allows us to reflect on the highs and lows of what we experienced in the last 365 days and make goals for the next. Through late-night parties, ball-dropping countdowns, and toasts to whatever is to come, New Year’s Eve is a worldwide celebration.

Observance Suggestion: Take time to ask yourself how your organization’s culture has expanded this past year. Then, consider how it might be improved within the next year. Make goals for it. Write it down. Create a promise to yourself and your organization to bring in partners and specialists who can help achieve them.

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