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All Faiths Must Be Welcome in the Workplace

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Around the world, 1.6 billion Muslims are observing the Islamic holy month of Ramadan by fasting without food or water from dawn to sunset. Many also increase their salat (prayers), Quranic recitation, and charitable giving. For talent managers, this is a perfect opportunity to review your organization's policies and practices protecting employees of all faiths in the workplace.

Not only can well-designed workplace diversity policies help increase productivity and job satisfaction, they can help employers stay legally compliant. Among the major legislation to keep in mind is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and prohibits discrimination against individuals due to their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

With regards to religion, the EEOC website notes:

"Religious discrimination involves treating a person (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of his or her religious beliefs. The law protects not only people who belong to traditional, organized religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism, but also others who have sincerely held religious, ethical or moral beliefs.
Religious discrimination can also involve treating someone differently because that person is married to (or associated with) an individual of a particular religion or because of his or her connection with a religious organization or group."

The EEOC has a plethora of information around the legal protections individuals have when it comes to their religious beliefs. For more information, check out the organization's website for a useful facts page and Q&A around religious discrimination in the workplace.

Over the next few weeks, there are several things talent managers can do to support staff who are observing Ramadan. For example, employees may appreciate the opportunity to work remotely or begin working later in the day if possible. Or they might like to have a quiet space where they can pray or rest during their lunch break. Of course, everyone is different and may have different needs. As a talent manager, the best thing you can do is, simply, to make sure all employees know they are welcome to approach you if they ever need accommodations of any kind.

Naima Khandaker, Battelle for Kids Human Capital Specialist, contributed to this post. Naima is a former teacher and current education policy nerd who believes that one day soon, education will be great for all kids.

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