How to Host Inclusive Social Parties

Holiday socials are a great way to get away from work and daily chores and reunite with your team. They create opportunities to build connections and trust. And, if done well, they can create a sense of security and belonging, according to Abadesi Osunsade.

Abadesi knows a thing or two about building inclusive businesses. Before working full-time at the company she founded – inclusive education platform Hustle Crew – she was vice president of global community and was with social media management company Brandwatch.

In our Startup Life newsletter, she shared her top tips for everyone to enjoy the festivities.

Be intentional

Hosting a party to party? Or do you create the time and space to recognize and celebrate the hard work of the team? For your team to feel appreciated, they need to feel like they’ve been thought of. The first step is simple: ask the team what they would like to do. Do they even want an event in the first place? Second, you need to build the event around your most underrepresented team member, not the majority. If the person on your team with the most needs is satisfied, everyone on the team will be satisfied. For example, if you have fun soft drinks for the non-drinker, or vegan food, everyone has an option.

It doesn’t have to be in person

If your team is spread around a few main hubs, you might want to host multiple events. Maybe you have an event in London and in Manchester and pay for the team to travel to the nearest hub. If your team is more dispersed, remote events can be just as impactful. This year, the Hustle Crew social is an online mindfulness event, which includes a self-care discussion and guided meditation. There are also online experiences like escape rooms and mocktail-making classes.

Do not center your social activities around alcohol

In the UK, pub and drinking culture makes an event centered on alcohol an easy choice, but there are many reasons why people don’t drink – from religion and recovery to pregnancy and fitness. Plus, some people just don’t like it. So be creative. You can host a cooking class, craft session, donut decorating, or tea tasting… Check out providers like Airbnb for experiences you can book or draw inspiration from.

Consider accessibility

There are many forms of disability that need to be taken into account. First, can your entire team physically access an event? Then there are the hidden handicaps: does your team need a quiet space? Will the planned activity be too strenuous or overwhelming? Then there are responsibilities – does your team have to be home at a certain time for the school run or other care chores? Do any of them have to be at work early the next day?

Remove competition

Pitting people against each other in a game can feel excluding or embarrassing, especially if the activity requires strength or agility – an example that has grown in popularity is ax throwing. This can push introverted colleagues to the fringes while extroverts take the lead. This defeats the purpose of bringing people together to build relationships. Instead, opt for cooperative events that allow people to work and play together.

On… hosting an inclusive Christmas party

🛀 Do not organize a sauna party. It can make women to feel uncomfortable.

🍷 You don’t have to drink. Abadesi asked his LinkedIn contacts what their ideal social job would be. From board games to cooking a meal together, here’s the answers she received.

💰 Where do you spend money? Research may take longer, but consider working with brands and organizations that reflect your company values. For example, are they sustainable, local or independent?

🧰 The inclusive event toolkit. Find out how to create more inclusive events with this guide by the DEI Change Catalyst platform.

Anisah Osman Britton is co-author of Sifted’s Startup Life newsletter, which appears weekly on Wednesdays. Register here.

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