A workplace that cares: The right way to support your Muslim colleagues during Ramadan

April 15, 2021

Account Coordinator Mohamad Raza shares how K&P has embraced his values and individuality

As a person of colour and/or a minority, finding a workplace that respects your individuality, your culture, your uniqueness and your perspective is critical.

Not every field demands as much of you as communications does – specifically your creativity, passion, and drive. So much of our work as communications and PR professionals involves putting our voices and experiences behind the work that we do. That’s the thing about creativity, your work really lives when you can give it something of yourself.

Whether it’s a blog for a B2B client, a social post for a charity, or literally anything else, the price that creativity asks you to pay is to leave a piece of yourself consistently within the content you create.

The worst thing you can do as a unique individual is to resign yourself to working somewhere where you are only seen as a cultural fit and not a valuable voice.

As the month of Ramadan has begun, the heightened need for this understanding and respect has come vividly to my attention. It is a month where I am not only expected to give an increased awareness to my spiritual obligations throughout the day and night, but to do so in a way that is fair to my clients and colleagues with whom I work alongside during this period.

This is where the importance of being on a team that doesn’t force you to sacrifice your individuality and valuable experiences comes so greatly in to play- and I’ve seen both sides.

As a Muslim, keeping a beard is an important physical aspect of your religion. I’ve been on teams where I was met with reluctance and hesitancy because my physical appearance made me look too much like an “other.” Unfortunately, a bad incident at a barber forced me to shave my beard and regrow it. The first day back at the office, I was met with multiple compliments and told I was “finally looking fresh and clean.”

I was crushed. The compliments had the unintended effect of making me feel even more alienated and misunderstood.

Throughout the course of the pandemic, I was able to search for new opportunities and take the time to revaluate my priorities and search for a team that would take all of my hard skills in communications along with who I am as a person of unique experiences and perspectives.

I’m happy to say that I have found just such a team. I had more than enough examples of the senior leadership at K&P taking the time to understand and work with my diverse talents and perspectives long before the discussion of Ramadan came up, but their response to my outreach as the time came was nothing short of extraordinary, especially compared to what I was used to expecting.

Senior leadership warmly took in blogs and articles I sent that explained the concept of Ramadan and how to support your colleagues. Others asked meaningful and insightful questions regarding what it meant to me and how they could help me specifically during my fasts. It was more than my emotions could take at times (but I am an emotional guy so I have that working against me).

To reiterate, as a Muslim professional, my role during the next month is to put in the extra effort to fulfill my obligations to my team at work and to my faith. Having colleagues and mentors such as those I’ve found here will make digging deep and putting in the work much more satisfying.

They’ve earned my loyalty.

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