In our mission to create diverse and inclusive workplaces that mirror societal diversity, it’s vital to consider the observances of one of the fastest growing communities in the world. In this article, Banen Al-Sheemary, offers tips for fostering an inclusive environment during Ramadan, observed by nearly two billion Muslims worldwide.

Understanding Ramadan

Ramadan is a month of fasting, spiritual awakening, and communal observances. It’s one of the five pillars of Islam, during which people refrain from activities like eating and drinking from dawn till dusk. This lunar cycle’s ninth month is a time of fasting, night prayers, and supplications. Despite the social nature of the month, it can be physically demanding due to the fast’s impact on the body.

Ramadan and DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion)

A DEI-focused organization acknowledges the different practices of its communities. Fasting means different things to different people. While its rewards are varied
and many, it can also be a physically taxing process. Having a welcoming and inclusive
workspace that honors the many traditions of Ramadan can make a huge difference in
employee engagement. No one wants to experience a microaggression during their most
special days – especially when abstaining from food and water!

Practical Inclusion Tips during Ramadan

  • Engage in Ramadan-related conversations: Ask about their observances, feelings about Ramadan, their iftar meals, and how you can support them.
  • Respect fasting exemptions: Some Muslims are exempt from fasting due to reasons such as pregnancy, menstruation, breastfeeding, disability, health issues, and eating disorders. Avoid asking why.
  • Understand diverse traditions: Ramadan traditions can vary based on cultural and religious differences.
  • Provide a separate space: If a fasting employee is in the office, provide a separate area for them to relax during lunch.
  • Consider physical limitations: If the job involves physical labor, be mindful of their limits and schedule frequent breaks.
  • Avoid judgment and pity: People choose to fast because it is important to
    them. Refrain from comments like “not even water?” or “that’s so hard!”
  • Avoid weight-related discussions: Fasting is not for weight loss and such conversations can trigger fatphobia and disordered eating.
  • Schedule meetings wisely: Prioritize earlier meetings when fasting individuals have more energy.
  • Consider Ramadan in goal setting: Managers should avoid scheduling significant goals or projects during Ramadan.
  • Provide flexibility: Offer a flexible work schedule, time and space for prayer and meditation, and support for uncertain Eid holidays.
  • Promote holiday swaps: If an employee lacks PTO or prefers to save it, allow a holiday swap to observe Eid.
  • Educate yourself: Learn about Ramadan from credible sources, not just Google!
  • Practice sensitivity: Avoid apologizing for eating or drinking in front of others and making insensitive comments.
  • Show solidarity: Fast with a coworker if invited or share an iftar meal.
  • Extend greetings: Wish them a blessed Ramadan in the beginning of the month and a happy Eid at the end!

By adopting these practices, we can create a more inclusive workspace that respects and honors the diverse traditions of our colleagues.