Why marking Holocaust Memorial Day is important for business and employees

Olivia Marks-Woldman, Chief Executive for the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, on why marking Holocaust Memorial Day is important for businesses and their employees.

Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) takes place on 27 January each year and is a time for everyone to remember the victims of the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. In the UK we also use this opportunity to reflect on contemporary issues of hatred and intolerance which are still a part of society today.

This year we are encouraging everyone to think about the theme How can life go on? The aftermath of the Holocaust and of subsequent genocides continues to raise challenging questions for individuals, communities and nations. HMD 2017 asks us all to think about what happens after genocide and of our own responsibilities in the wake of such a crime. This year’s theme is broad and open ended, there are few known answers.

As Chief Executive for Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, I am lucky to witness each year the incredibly powerful events and activities that groups all over the UK stage to mark HMD. Last year more than 5,590 activities took place, inspiring people to explore experiences and life stories of the past in order to create a safer, better future.

HMD is not just a day for civic organisations, faith groups or schools to take part in. People in all settings, including their workplaces, have a responsibility to remember those affected by the Holocaust and genocide in order to ensure we learn from the past and build a more tolerant society today.

HMD can provide a focal point for workplaces wishing to recognise the values of respect and tolerance. Many survivors of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides have made the UK their home and, for many, a work-life has been part of the process of rebuilding after persecution.

Businesses of all shapes and sizes are committed to the values of equality and diversity, recognising the contributions individuals from all backgrounds can make to their own working environment.

Businesses who have previously marked HMD with their staff have found the experience to be beneficial, helping employees connect with contemporary issues such as valuing diversity and respecting difference, enabling a short time for reflection within a busy work environment. 

We understand that all businesses face time pressures, but HMDT is on hand to support you with free resources and ideas of how to get involved. You may only have a couple of minutes to put up a poster display, leave a few About HMD booklets in the canteen or send around an office-wide email to bring employees’ attention to the day, but in all cases HMDT can provide resources and support, from free posters and leaflets, or by providing the text or content for emails/intranet.

Ordering our free Activity Pack is a great starting point for marking HMD 2017 and contains advice and guidance for planning and holding a HMD activity. The pack contains a set of posters for a display, a guide to how your activity can explore the theme to mark HMD, a sample About HMD booklet, a set of stickers and a HMD badge. This year, our Activity Pack is also available to order in a bilingual Welsh / English version.

HMDT provides a wide range of other resources including life stories of survivors and those who were murdered, and recipe cards sharing dishes important to communities targeted during genocide. HMDT has also produced a Get Involved Guide for workplaces which features tailored advice and guidance for marking HMD, as well as practical activity ideas and examples of how workplaces have marked HMD in the past to inspire your workplace for HMD 2017.

Whether you have 10 to 30 minutes, one to two hours or half a day to a day, our useful activity templates can help you organise a meaningful activity no matter how much time you and your organisation have.

On 27 January 2017 please mark Holocaust Memorial Day in your own workplace and encourage fellow staff to consider our theme: How can life go on?

For more information or to access any of the resources HMDT offers, please visit hmd.org.uk, call 020 7785 7029 or email enquiries@hmd.org.uk.