Home Lead 5 Tips to Foster an Inclusive Workspace During Ramadan

5 Tips to Foster an Inclusive Workspace During Ramadan

Inc. Arabia speaks to business coaches and experts for advice on how to promote an inclusive workplace for Muslims and non-Muslims during Ramadan.

By Inc.Arabia Staff
images header

As Ramadan kicks off for Muslims around the world, leaders have to strike a balance between remaining productive and ensuring that their workplaces accommodate people of different faiths. With more than 2 billion Muslims, many of whom fast during Ramadan, creating an environment that is comfortable--and productive--is key to gaining employee loyalty and ensuring that their workplace truly welcomes diversity. 

“Overall, the trend towards creating more inclusive and positive work environments is gaining momentum globally, with organizations recognizing the benefits of fostering a diverse and supportive workplace culture for employees and the overall success of the business,” Egypt-based life coach Doha Zuhair tells Inc. Arabia. 

Dubai-based life coach Yasmine Khalifa stresses that diversity and inclusion can benefit companies by improving their productivity, attracting talent, and encouraging knowledge-sharing. “In my experience, inclusion is very important for the overall organization's productivity as well as its individuals. Inclusion encourages the development of employee skills and cements their loyalty to the job and the company environment," she tells us. 

Here are some tips on how to cultivate diversity and inclusion while respecting people of different faiths during Ramadan:

1.    Educate yourself and your team

Start by educating yourself and your team about Ramadan, its significance, and observance practices. Encourage conversations about cultural and religious practices, and promote understanding and respect among team members. For practicing Muslims, this also means being considerate of them during lunch meetings or when planning team meals. 

“While some people who fast prefer not to be around food during fasting hours, others might not mind. Offering a designated space for non-fasting employees to eat or adjusting the timing of shared meals can be thoughtful gestures,” says Salma El-Shurafa, leadership facilitator and executive coach. 

2.    Offer flexible working hours 

All the experts we spoke to said that encouraging flexible working hours is more productive and profitable for any organization--but especially during Ramadan. 

“In my experience, offering flexible working hours is 3 times more productive than the 9-to-5 model,” says business mentor and CEO of Transcend, Hossam Abdel Ghafar. His advice to employers is to enforce flexible working hours all year. If you can’t, then at least implement them during Ramadan. 

“By adjusting work hours and providing spaces for prayer and rest, organizations directly support the physical and mental well-being of employees observing Ramadan. Such accommodations increase job satisfaction, as employees feel their religious practices are respected and supported. This reduces stress levels and improves overall job satisfaction,” says El-Shurafa. 

By accommodating employees’ needs, companies can also demonstrate their commitment to diversity and inclusion, improve team dynamics, attract and retain talent, and improve their reputation in general, she adds.  

3.    Trust Your Team

Give your team the option to manage their own time and trust that they will do so responsibly. Set targets and make sure that they achieve them in order to hold them accountable. 

“If you don’t trust your people, lay them off. It is better for you and for the business. But if you trust your employees, delegate and judge people according to their objectives and deliverables, not how long they stay at the office,” says Abdel Ghaffar. 

4.    Show Empathy--But Respect Boundaries

Khalifa tells us that, while it’s difficult for managers to accommodate everyone on their team, empathy and a deep understanding of different cultures can act as a clear example of tolerance and inclusion. 

"I had a French manager who was surprised when he found out that fasting for Muslims requires not drinking water. He insisted on trying it out for himself. When he failed to fast for one day, he started to regard fasting as an extraordinary power. It made him keen to show empathy and support during Ramadan,” she tells us.

El Shurafa stresses the importance of striking a balance between accommodating and respecting people of different faiths and understanding that people express their faith in different ways. 

“Showing interest in Ramadan and asking respectful questions is generally welcome. However, it's crucial to be mindful of personal boundaries and avoid making assumptions or intruding into personal religious practices,” says El Shurafa.

5.    Cultivate CQ Through Training

Provide diversity and inclusion training to educate employees on the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Khalifa gives an example of how Dubai has evolved from a city that prohibited eating and drinking in public to a place that celebrates the culture of Ramadan without regulating individual consumption. "When I first moved to Dubai 3 years ago, I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink in public spaces. Today, these rules have changed. Ramadan vibes and culture are celebrated instead of being regulations to be followed," Khalifa tells us. 

El-Shurafa tells us Cultural Quotient (CQ) has helped to cultivate more diverse workplaces in both Arab and Muslim-majority countries, as well as in non-Muslim ones, while still respecting the religious and cultural significance of religious times like Ramadan."These adjustments highlight the critical role of Cultural Intelligence or Cultural Quotient (CQ) in navigating societal changes, balancing openness with respect for tradition," says El-Shurafa. 

Last update:
Publish date: