Cultural Diversity In The Workplace: Supporting Colleagues During Ramadan

As more companies develop global teams, cultural diversity in the workplace is becoming more common. To build an inclusive and supportive work environment, it’s important to consider different traditions and holidays celebrated by team members.

March 23rd, 2023 marks the beginning of Ramadan – a month-long holy period celebrated by Muslims around the world. During this month, individuals must significantly adjust their routines. As a result, companies should understand how this holiday impacts the day-to-day life of Muslims.

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is a significant month for Muslims around the world. It marks a holy month where Muslims fast, including abstaining from drinking and eating, smoking and engaging in sexual activity from dawn till sunset. Individuals must even abstain from drinking water. This time is used for spiritual reflection and growth, to help those in need, and to spend time with loved ones. The fast is intended to teach self-discipline, self-control, and empathy for those less fortunate. The holy month of Ramadan has deep religious, cultural, and historical significance as it is also a celebration of Prophet Muhammad’s first revelation of the Holy Quran.

When is Ramadan?

This year, Ramadan is expected to start on March 23rd and end on April 20th. The actual day, however, changes year over year and falls on the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. The beginning of the month marks the start of Ramadan which lasts until the end of the month.

Muslims celebrate “Eid-ul-Fitr” at the end of Ramadan. This three-day festival marks the end of the month-long fast. During the three-day festival, Muslims typically celebrate with friends and family, exchange gifts, and engage in festive activities.

Why Should You Support Your Muslim Colleagues During Ramadan?

Diversity among employees can positively impact a workplace. It has been shown to contribute to greater creativity and innovation and can result in improved client relations and customer experience. A diverse workforce is what makes a strong workforce. This may include having diverse ages, religions, sexuality, gender, cultures, physical abilities, training and background and so much more. Regardless of who is on a team, everyone deserves to be treated with respect in and outside the workplace. Understanding who is on your team and the practices they engage in, can help ensure everyone feels supported and that you are embracing cultural diversity in the workplace.

How Can You Create A Supportive Work Culture During Ramadan?

Whether you have Muslim colleagues or are the leader of a diverse team, there are steps you can take to foster a supportive work culture. Here are some ways to support team members during Ramadan.

Educate yourself: The first step is to understand what Ramadan is. By making it this far in the article, you already know more than when you started! You can learn more about Ramadan by watching educational videos, reading articles/blogs, and attending community. Here’s a video to get you started:

Respect their fasting: If you have Muslim colleagues fasting during Ramadan, be mindful of their observance. Workplace lunches and treats are commonplace, especially if you are sharing an office space. Avoid offering fasting colleagues anything to eat or drink, or if possible, postpone or restructure any team-building activities that often revolve around food.

Offer flexibility: It can be extremely helpful to allow Muslim team members to adjust their working hours. This gives sufficient time for rest and prayers. If they need to work during sunset, be mindful that they may need time to break their fast, perform their prayers, and consume a meal.

Be mindful of the impact of fasting: If you’ve ever fasted before, you know it’s challenging on the body both mentally and physically. Thus, you may notice that Muslim colleagues are quieter or less energetic than usual. This is especially true during the first few days of Ramadan as their bodies are adjusting to the reduced intake of food and water. Remember, this doesn’t mean they are less motivated, engaged or interested in work.

Consider quiet or designated rooms/areas for prayer: Prayer is a significant part of Ramadan. If possible, consider preparing or designating a quiet space where individuals can meditate and pray.

Offer Halal food choices: There are two main mealtimes for Muslims to honour their fasts; one at the breaking of dawn and the other at sunset. If you are providing meals outside of fasting times, make Halal food choices an option.

Adjust meeting times: Avoid scheduling early morning meetings or meetings around the time of iftar (the time they break their fast). If you have a global team, ask them what time they break fast in their respective locations and adjust the timeline accordingly.

Time off for Eid: Eid marks the end of Ramadan. It is a time for celebration and is a significant holiday for Muslims. If possible, consider giving Muslim team members the day off so that they can celebrate with their families.

Actively express your support: Wish your team members Ramadan Mubarak – they will surely appreciate it coming from colleagues and leadership. You may also demonstrate your support by donating to a charity of your choice and supporting an important cause.

Embracing cultural diversity in the workplace provides an opportunity to learn about other people’s cultures and uniqueness. By developing a supportive work culture, you can foster a more inclusive workplace environment not just for your Muslim employees but for people of all backgrounds. Remember, an inclusive and respectful workplace is a successful workplace!

Interested in sharing tips to support Muslim colleagues during Ramadan?
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Senior Digital & Design Marketing Specialist

Ali Sidiki

Ali Sidiki handles marketing for Jarvis Consulting Group. He is passionate about telling stories and ensuring that communication is effective for companies to reach their goals.

Image by pch.vector on Freepik


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