PepsiCo Australia Workers Can Opt to Avail Holiday on Cultural Occasions Like Diwali, Eid

PepsiCo Australia says it does not want to impose the "Anglo-Saxon holidays" on its diverse cultural workforce.


Soft drink company PepsiCo’s arm in Australia is giving its employees the option of exchanging declared public holidays for more culturally appropriate days they want to celebrate, SBS Punjabi reported.

The company’s trial is being termed “floating cultural holidays,” which could enable workers to take leave on days such as Diwali or Chinese New Year or Eid instead of a public holiday, so that the festivals do not affect the employee’s annual leave. Multicultural celebrations are growing in popularity in the country, alongside the traditional Australian public holidays such as Melbourne Cup Day and the Queen’s Birthday, so much so that they can bring cities to a halt.

PepsiCo Australia, in following the trend of companies offering workers the choice to swap some public holidays for others, says it does not want to impose the Australian public holidays, or what it calls “the Anglo-Saxon holidays,” on its diverse cultural workforce. The company has employees from over 45 nationalities and this trial is a way to increase cultural diversity within the workforce, it said.

“We have around 45 nationalities in our Australia and New Zealand business, it’s something that we’re increasingly recognizing, celebrating and trying to find new ways of creating broader awareness of cultural differences,” PepsiCo senior HR director Shiona Watson was quoted as saying by the publication.

The trial won’t be extended to the non-negotiable main holidays, such as Christmas, Easter, Anzac Day and Australia Day, but holidays such as the Queen’s Birthday can be exchanged, the firm’s chief executive Danny Celoni said.

“We’ve kept them (main holidays) for now,” Watson said to “As with every program we’ll stop and evaluate. We’ve just started with the Labour Day public holidays, Queen’s Birthday and sporting holidays [such as] Melbourne Cup.”

She added: “Anzac Day is important from an Australian perspective. While closing at the end of the year around Christmas time is just good business sense. However, if someone wants to work the Queen’s Birthday or Labour Day public holidays and celebrate Chinese New Year or Eid then we can facilitate that. We just substitute them.”

The local arm of the company was awarded the Harvey C.Russell Inclusion award for this move. Presented by PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, the award is meant to recognize external partners for their “above and beyond” accomplishments in the areas of diversity and inclusion .

The Diversity Council of Australia found in its research that inclusion at work is good for business, with workers in inclusive teams 10 times more likely to be highly effective than workers in non-inclusive teams and almost 20 times more likely to be very satisfied with their jobs.

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