CLNY - shopping mall installation
Perspective: Cultural Leave
Research and Analytics Manager, Nathalie Chan discusses why Vicinity's cultural leave is important to her

Research and Analytics Manager Nathalie Chan, learned of Vicinity's cultural leave benefit when she joined the company in 2017, and says being encouraged to embrace her heritage goes a long way in making her feel valued and included.

At Vicinity, all team members are entitled to two days of leave to help them honour days that are of cultural significance to them.

While on cultural days, Nathalie may be far from the streets of Hong Kong that are filled with festive decorations and fun, but for her it’s all about spending time connecting with family and friends and honouring cultural traditions, which this leave helps her do.

We caught up with Nathalie to explore how she uses her cultural leave and why it's important.

Nathalie Chan profile
Nathalie Chan - Research and Analytics ManagerCredit: Vicinity Centres

VCX: How are you using Vicinity’s cultural leave entitlement this year?

NC: Cultural Leave is one of my favourite Vicinity benefits and it’s something I use every year. It helps me feel connected to my family and I’m grateful that Vicinity supports me to honour my heritage and traditions that are important to me.

I took one day of leave for Chinese Lunar New Year in January this year and plan to take another day for Mid-Autumn (Moon Cake) Festival in September.

VCX: What does Vicinity offering cultural leave mean to you?

NC: I moved from Hong Kong 12 years ago and utilising cultural leave means I get to share in the joy that my friends and family back home are having on days that are important in my culture.

While they are catching up on the public holiday there, I too can celebrate with friends here. I always make time to video call family back home to wish them luck and blessings on the day, so this leave helps me feel connected to my family.

Being supported and encouraged to bring my whole self to work including my heritage is really important to me and helps me share the joy of your life with colleagues.

VCX: How do you celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year?

NC: It’s all about getting together with family and friends, so when I’m in Hong Kong it’s celebrations with my father’s side and mother’s side, smaller cousin get-togethers and seeing friends too. It’s always over a meal and there are many traditions we do to bring good luck for the new year.

I have friends who celebrate here in Melbourne too, so it’s always nice to catch up with them when we can’t be back home.

While I miss the excitement of Hong Kong in the lead up to Chinese Lunar New Year, visiting Box Hill Central in the days leading up to the holiday reminds me of home where the shopping centres are full of amazing activations, photo opportunities and everyone rushing around to get all their shopping done before hosting CLNY celebrations!

VCX:How does it feel being encouraged to celebrate your culture? 

NC: At Vicinity we always talk about diversity and inclusion and from day one I’ve felt like I can bring my whole self to work.

Embracing my culture is really important to me and I haven’t always felt comfortable to do that in workplaces. When you feel that you can’t bring your whole self to work, you feel there’s something missing, a part of you is hidden and you’re not able to share the joy of your life with colleagues.

It’s important that we continue to celebrate diversity and that new starters know that people from all cultural backgrounds are accepted and there are many opportunities to share and celebrate your heritage here at Vicinity.

Nathalie Chan Cultural Leave collage
Nathalie Chan used her cultural leave to celebrate CLNY with family.Credit: Vicinity Centres

VCX: How else do you feel encouraged to embrace your cultural heritage at work? 

NC: I’m part of the Cultural Diversity Employee Advocacy Group (EAG) at Vicinity, which allows me to share with colleagues and learn about other people’s culture too.

The fact that there is an EAG shows me that the organisation truly cares about diversity and inclusion and it gives people the idea that no matter your cultural background, you belong here.  

Everyone comes from different backgrounds and not everyone has had exposure to diverse cultures. The EAG helps develop people’s understanding and awareness, so we can all come together and celebrate our unique perspectives.  

I really loved helping educate team members on Chinese Lunar New Year traditions, and it was an opportunity for me to learn too. I now have a better awareness of different cultures that celebrate Lunar New Year and that it means different things to different people (for example in Vietnam, it is not the year of rabbit, it’s the year of cat!) 

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