Ramadan: Creating an Inclusive Workplace

May 28, 2015 7:23 pm


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Ramadan, the holy month for Muslims, is a time when Muslims seek forgiveness for their sins, pray for guidance and try to purify themselves through self-restraint and good deeds.

For employers, there are several aspects of Ramadan to consider in order to create a more inclusive environment for Muslim employees:

·      Fasting is one of the most important practices.  Each day during Ramadan, the fast begins before dawn and ends at sunset.  Be aware of the employee’s need for a break to end the fast. Also be cognizant that some employees may experience low blood-sugar levels or be more tired while fasting.

·      Some employers are allowing workers more flexible workdays, including working through lunch, during this period.

·      If possible, don’t schedule team events around meals (such as Lunch ‘N Learns), during Ramadan.  Also don’t schedule lunch or early dinner client meetings with Muslim employees if possible.  If you have to, and the employee attends but does not eat, be respectful.

·      Encourage discussion of the meaning of Ramadan and make sure your staff understands what the holiday means and why these observances occur.

·      Most Muslims believe that prayer should be performed five times daily.  During Ramadan, many Muslims may be more determined to meet these obligations.  Provide quiet places to pray and time for breaks. And again, make sure other employees understand the reasons.

·      Teach your employees proper recognition of Ramadan. You can greet them by saying “Ramadan Mubarak”, which means “blessed Ramadan” or “Happy Ramadan” or “Ramadan Kareem”, which means “Generous Ramadan.”

·      The close of the holiday is Eid-ul-Fitr, which in the United States this year is celebrated between July 17 and July 18. Employees may ask for time off to celebrate the holiday with family and friends.

·      Use your employee-resource groups to help educate your workforce about Ramadan and other religious holidays. Only a handful of companies have specific religious employee-resource groups but all of these groups can be used to disseminate informational knowledge and create an inclusive workplace.

For more information, please see this fact sheet from the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding.