As the Francesca team reaches 60 employees (we can’t believe it!), we recently came together to celebrate the diversity within our team. At Francesca, we strongly believe in the importance of celebrating everyone within our business, customer base and community! In conjunction with Harmony Day (March 21st) we are celebrating multiculturalism, inclusiveness, respect and belonging regardless of cultural background within our community.
Part of what makes Francesca special is the variety of people from different cultures within our team and customer community who can feel empowered and celebrated throughout our business. The brains behind Francesca, Hannah and Rachel hail from Czech and Russian heritage whilst many of our fabulous beaders are from Eritrea in Eastern Africa! Our Hobart Store Manager is from Hong Kong and our Head of Online has a Filipino background. We sincerely value the diversity in ideas and backgrounds within the organisation and wanted to share some stories the Franc Fam have shared in celebrating who they are. We asked them about their favourite part of their cultures, meals we have to try and anecdotes from cultural holidays or their childhoods from around the globe.
Tiemar, Ruta & Sebrina (Production Team) - Eritrean heritage
We are all from Eritrea. Tiemar's favourite thing about Eritrea is the traditional Eritrean coffee. Sebrina's favourite thing is the Eritrean clothes and Ruta's favourite thing is sharing Injera, a type of pancake you eat with meat dishes.
Francesca (Marketing Co-ordinator) - Italian heritage
‘My family is Italian! My father was full Italian and mum is half Italian. That makes me ¾ Italian! At home growing up, Italian was spoken often so I learned it from a very young age, in fact, my first word was apparently palla - which means ball. This means the culture was ingrained in me and is something I’ve always been proud of, even when I sometimes felt different to others in primary school’.
A beautiful story she shared with us was that ‘each year in March, when the tomatoes are ready, I make passata with my Nonno! We usually buy between 200-400kg of tomatoes and make a combination of passata and peeled tomatoes for pasta dishes and pizza for the year! It’s a full weekend of labour-intensive work but it’s good bonding! The flavour is unlike anything you can buy and it’s so convenient having it there ready to use!’
Fran shares that whilst it’s almost impossible to choose her favourite Italian dish, her Nonna’s lasagne ‘takes the cake’, or her mum’s parmigiana (fun fact - it’s not what Aussies think a parmi is, but more of an eggplant lasagne).
Tessa (PR Assistant Online & Melbourne Store) - Italian heritage
‘I am Italian on both sides of my family! My grandparents on both sides of my family migrated to Australia in the 50s to provide a better life for their children and future grand children’.
A special memory of Tess’ (which was ‘hard to narrow down without embarrassing the entire family’) was when her mum was growing up she had a friend over for a sleepover and her grandmother wanted her friend to feel welcome so she decided they would have KFC for dinner. Once they finished her mum’s friend said ‘this was strange, I’ve never eaten like this’. Mum asked ‘oh, haven’t you had KFC before?!’ and she said ‘yes, but we don’t normally have a bowl of pasta before the fried chicken!’.
Tess candidly shares that there isn’t enough time in the world to name all of her favourite Italian dishes but her mum’s cassata (homemade ice cream cake), her Nonna Luisa’s parmigiana (eggplant, cheese and sauce bake) and Nonna Eulalia’s homemade cannelloni are to die for!
Bec (Melbourne Store) - English & Irish heritage
Bec compares her family’s heritage to an episode of Peaky Blinders! ‘My background is Northern English & Northern Irish, not the most exciting in terms of foods and traditions, unfortunately. I’m lucky to know SO much about my heritage so I’ll include a couple of fun facts - my great grandmother could see the Titanic being built from her house growing up, and the reason they moved to Australia was because my great grandfather started getting involved in the IRA and she was having none of it - I guess Broken Hill is about as far away from Belfast as you can get! The second fact is that my great grandfather invented stainless steel and he was offered a knighthood for it, but he was a communist so refused to take it!’
Steph (Melbourne Store) - Estonian heritage
Steph has a background of Estonian and Scottish heritage and emphasised that she definitely is not a fan of haggis from Scotland! She recounts that her great grandmother and her grandpa (her son), would hide under the seats in trains when they were escaping the Nazis and her ‘great grandmother was such a dog whisperer that even the Nazis’ sniffer dogs would find her and my grandpa under the seats but not react or dob them into their owners. She had an amazing way with animals!’
Lydia (Melbourne Store) - Greek heritage
‘I am Greek from both sides of my family as both of my parents migrated from Greece to Australia back in 1996. Greek was the first language I learned growing up, regardless of being born in Australia as we only spoke Greek at home. I learned English as soon as I started going to school which was most likely at the age of 6’.
Lydia shared a hilarious ‘reoccurring’ story from her childhood. ‘When I was in primary school, I had a friend come over to my place. As Greek people are naturally characterised as loud and expressive people, my parents started conversing as they usually do, which then prompted my friend to ask if my parents were arguing. I had to explain that they were simply having a conversation and this is the volume at which it usually occurs. My friend seemed troubled which was quite amusing to me, considering that I also tend to yell instead of speak at a normal tone.’
Lydia explained that there are countless Greek traditions that she loves and has always taken part in. Greek Easter ‘feels like a big party!’ and her favourite savoury dish is pastitsio (‘similar to lasagne but with big pasta’) and her go-to sweet dish is bougasta (filo pastry dessert filled with custard). Don’t forget to ‘serve it warm with cinnamon dusted on top!’
Ideas for Celebrating Diversity in Your Own Workplace
- Make it a value: Try to ensure it becomes a normal part of your organisation’s conversations, to improve the communication of diversity around the workspace. Be aware of language in your policies, to reflect cultural acceptance in your organisation.
- Don’t be tokenistic: emphasise diversity in your hiring plan, that encourages recruiting of diverse individuals and make it an integral part of your culture.
- Celebrate: recognise and enjoy the different backgrounds that are present in your organisation, by acknowledging all cultural holidays for example.
- Get involved: Interested in bringing Harmony Day into your workplace? Find more information here.