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Using Inclusive Language in the Workplace During Ramadan

Using Inclusive Language in the Workplace During Ramadan
30 March 2022
 

With Ramadan approaching, D,E&I and Wellbeing Consultant Ash Ahmad shares her tips on how employers can support their Muslim employees and colleagues during the month of fasting.

It’s expected that Saturday 2 April will signify the beginning of Ramadan, the holy month of the Islamic calendar in which Muslims often commit to a period of fasting during daylight hours.

Ash Ahmad, who is a DE&I and Wellbeing Consultant, has been sharing her lived experience as a Muslim woman with her network on her LinkedIn and Instagram pages, including some guidance on the use of language in the workplace to support those observing Ramadan.

 

"I’ve had a few people reach out to me saying just because they are liberal Muslims and don’t usually engage in prayer outside of Ramadan, sometimes their managers assume they would not require any accommodations for prayer. It’s important we do not assume and just simply ask if there is anything we can do to accommodate."

–Ash Ahmad

D,E&I and Wellbeing Consultant

 

As Ash writes on her website: “I inspire others by sharing my own experiences as a female, South Asian, Muslim woman and often a minority within my spaces, which has allowed me to truly connect with people, particularly those from underrepresented groups. I help organisations and individuals to be open and vulnerable and their true selves, because I believe when you are YOU, you thrive in any given context.”

It’s Ash’s hope that her advice will help others learn about how they can be more inclusive toward their Muslim colleagues.

Ash put together several visuals on inclusive behaviours during the month of Ramadan on what employers and colleagues should avoid, but also what should be encouraged:

 

Image

Picture: a graphic from Ash Ahmad's social media accounts, stating examples of inclusive language to use during Ramadan. For example, instead of saying "you poor thing, it must be so difficult for you", Ash recommends you say "I have so much admiration for your commitment to your faith". Image Credit: Changing Mindsets 

 

Ensure Regular Breaks

 

As Ash writes on LinkedIn, it's important to encourage employees observing Ramadan to still take regular breaks and not work through their lunch breaks: “Its easy to say to employees that they can work through their lunch break if they’re fasting and I know this is something employees opt to do because they want to finish earlier but it’s important that employees are taking a break throughout the day.

“On the first or second day it may be ok but eventually they’ll notice their productivity and concentration levels will drop. Also it's a legal requirement in the UK to take a break every 6 hours and even if it's not a legal requirement, it's still good practice to encourage your fasting employees to take a break.

 

Discuss Flexible Working

 

Ash continues: “If employees are wanting to finish earlier, have a conversation around flexible working for the month, could they start earlier to finish earlier, or take a shorter lunch, or start late in order to get a lie-in after being up for prayers during the night."

 

Take Care When Planning Work Social Events

 

Ash also explains how company-wide gatherings should be paused during Ramadan:

“Work social/networking gatherings are an opportunity for employees to sometimes connect with senior leaders and build their personal brand. By hosting these during Ramadan you are excluding your Muslim employees as more than likely they won’t be able to attend as the timing may fall during the time the fast is being broken, therefore its best to wait till Ramadan is over.”

 

Be Respectful Regarding Food in the Workplace

 

Addressing the issue of other colleagues eating in front of staff observing Ramadan, Ash says:

“Just ask politely if they’re ok with you eating in front of them. Someone asked me ‘are those fasting just being polite when they say it’s fine for others to eat in front of them or do you think they mind?’ And the truth is: we absolutely don’t, in fact when a person eats in front of a fasting person, we believe that person receives more blessings (and trust me we love extra blessings).”

 

Image

Picture: a graphic from Ash Ahmad's social media accounts, stating examples of inclusive behaviours to use during Ramadan. For example, asking if an employee is ok with other colleagues eating in front of them. Image Credit: Changing Mindsets 

 

Don’t Make Assumptions

 

Ash concludes by explaining some of the nuances around a person’s decision whether to share their Ramadan journey with colleagues:

“I’ve had a few people reach out to me saying just because they are liberal Muslims and don’t usually engage in prayer outside of Ramadan, sometimes their managers assume they would not require any accommodations for prayer. It’s important we do not assume and just simply ask if there is anything we can do to accommodate.

“Also, please refrain from teasing those that don’t practice their religion outside the month of Ramadan openly. People feel pressured to hide how much they practise their faith during this month because of their colleagues making fun of them for being a ‘part-time’ Muslim (a phrase someone shared with me of what they were called). There should be no judgement.”

Picture: a photograph of Ash. Image Credit: Changing Mindsets 

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 30 March 2022

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