In recognition of its diverse workforce, the British Columbia Lottery Corp. is allowing employees to substitute up to six statutory holidays in a calendar year for other personal, cultural or religious days of significance to them.

“The program is part of our overall inclusiveness and belonging culture,” says Madhavee Inamdar, the BCLC’s manager of diversity, inclusion and belonging, noting the policy is a tool — not a goal — to help employees be their authentic selves at work.

The organization launched the inclusive holiday program in November, after conducting a series of consultation sessions with its employees and people leaders. In crafting the policy, she says her team studied the province’s Employment Standards Act, which states employers can provide employees the option of substituting any statutory holidays with alternative days of significance. The one exception to the BCLC’s policy is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which all employees are expected to observe on Sept. 30 each year.

Read: When do employers have to provide time off for religious practices?

The company was careful not to place an obligation for employees to get team leaders’ approval to use the holiday policy. “Celebrating an occasion can be very personal for many people. We wanted to avoid any feeling of being judged for taking the time off and we didn’t want them to have to justify the substitution. At the same time, employees understand that it’s important to communicate with leaders when they plan to take time off.”

Inamdar notes the BCLC’s workforce includes people from all walks of life with visible and invisible diversities. “We want everyone to feel safe and know that this organization cares for them. We strive to lead with inclusivity. It’s part of psychological health and safety and we want to ensure that diverse people especially feel their identity, culture, skill and accessibility are respected.”

The results of employee engagement and pulse surveys have solidified the BCLC’s focus on diversity, inclusion and belonging as one of the top three driving forces at the company. This new inclusive holiday program is a small step employers can take to help build an inclusive workplace culture, she says, noting it shows employees their organization cares for them and values their culture and identity.

Read: How Redbrick’s flexible holiday policy is supporting employee well-being, workplace DEI goals