Engagement Manager at ANZ and freelance food writer, Darielle Ben-David, shares the importance of celebrating cultural diversity with food and tips for organising an A Taste of Harmony event.
Q1) How many years have you organised A Taste of Harmony at your workplace?
I have been involved in A Taste of Harmony for 9 years, 7 with ANZ and 2 previously with the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).
Since my background is Jewish/Israeli – I have brought a number of dishes including my mother’s specialty – chicken soup, often referred to as ‘Jewish penicillin’, and my favourite – Sabich, (Israeli street food).
My favourite A Taste of Harmony dish was when I outsourced the cooking to my grandmother when she was still well enough. She made an amazing Iraqi dish called Kubbeh and spent hours in the kitchen cooking for it and had excellent feedback from the Ombudsman himself.
That stood out in my mind, as she is elderly and isn’t able to cook anymore so I was fortunate my colleagues were able to try it.
I’ve also seen many dishes from different cultures celebrating A Taste of Harmony. One particular dish I remember was haggis from my Scottish colleague. I was daring enough to try it, however it reinforced my official dislike of offal!
Q2) Why do you think it is important to celebrate A Taste of Harmony at work?
I think A Taste of Harmony is a beautiful way of gaining insight into our colleagues’ heritage and learning about their different backgrounds through the wonders of food. Food is very special. It’s powerful because it’s so uniting and brings people together. I think A Taste of Harmony is important as it fosters a culture of sharing and learning.
Q3) What does A Taste of Harmony look like at ANZ?
Given ANZ is so large, A Taste of Harmony events are different across the organisation. I have been involved in A Taste of Harmony events with up to 100 people (an entire division), and small and intimate events with just my immediate team. Both are equally as fantastic and generate great conversation and insight (and not to mention amazing food).
Q4) What does workplace cultural diversity mean to you?
Cultural diversity in the workplace is key to a productive, efficient and enjoyable working environment. If everyone can be themselves, and understand a bit about each other’s cultures, it makes work more fun and therefore undoubtedly generates better outcomes.
Q5) For those celebrating A Taste of Harmony for the first time this year, what are your tips for planning and hosting a successful event?
Make sure everyone can be included in some way. When I’m hosting, I am conscious that not everyone can/wants to bring in food or has a cultural background that they want to bring.
Consider non-food related options, and things that make it easy for people who aren’t as culinary. If someone wants to bring Tim Tams from the supermarket, or some vegemite on toast – that is totally ok! Just encourage participation.
Q6) What tips do you have for those who want to introduce A Taste of Harmony to their workplace?
A Taste of Harmony is what you make it. If you think it would be an icebreaker – it’s fine to spice it up a bit – with a quiz (provided by A Taste of Harmony (link here to promo tools), or a fun activity.
One year, we had a ‘Masterchef’ competition where we made the group guess all the ingredients in an Indian colleague’s curry. The results were hilarious and insightful and had everyone talking and engaging.
It doesn’t matter how big or small the event is, provided everyone participates and learns something about each other’s cultures.