Faith Inclusion in the Workplace

At a recent Change the Race Ratio ED&I Knowledge Share Forum we heard from Dr Zaheer Ahmad, Founder of Equality X an organisation that celebrates Muslim talent in the workplace.  Zaheer shared with us his thoughts on the progress and work businesses need to do to ensure all faiths are supported in the workplace.
Our ED&I Knowledge Share Forum is an event series that meets both physically and virtually throughout the year and convenes senior level ED&I practitioners from signatory organisations and provides a space to hear from experts and for signatories to share and learn from one another.

There are billions of people in the world today who would consider themselves to be people of faith.  For many, faith is the cornerstone of their life and plays a huge role in defining their identity and influencing the decisions they make.

When we talk about bringing our whole self to work or as some now say, your best self, we looked at how  a lens on faith influenced an organisations strategy on inclusion.  Many employers can point to Prayer rooms, catering for religious dietary needs and raising awareness on key celebrations, , which for many employers have already been in place for decades.  

Good businesses are clear that they want to develop and attract talent from all corners of UK society, and to achieve this, faith must be an integral part of an inclusion strategy. In the last 5 years we have made great progress in ED&I on gender and ethnicity but Zaheer encourages employers to take more action on inclusion and belonging through the prisms of people of faith.

Muslim faith and UK society 

  • People of Muslim faith are the second least like group after the Irish traveler community
  • UK citizens are 3 times more likely to hold negative views of people of Muslim faith
  • Islamophobia in the UK workplace
    • 32% of Muslim employees have faced discrimination in annual appraisal processes
    • 34% of Muslim employees have faced discrimination during recruitment processes.
    • Candidates who are named  Adam are 4 times more likely to be called for an interview compared to being named Mohammad

By considering faith and identity in our inclusion strategy a business can proactively address and reduce instances of discrimination.

Some steps to get started include:

Understand where the conversation on faith is taking place in your business 

  • Your employee networks
  • Leadership training
  • People/HR update to your board or executive teams 

How coordinated is your approach and how do these conversations and viewpoints influence your ED&I and business strategy.

Steps to take action on faith inclusion 

  • Consider establishing a multifaith employee resource group if an equivalent network doesn’t exist
  • Training to improve faith fluency and understanding 
  • Creating allyship and a culture that challenges micro aggressions
  • Cultural intelligence training and development 
  • Data analysis to understand differences in tenure, progression and pay

The discussion between signatories revealed that progress on faith like other protected characteristics is happening. Signatories are at different stages of that journey and are committed to making progress.  This was the first knowledge share forum event that has focused on faith, as we continue to progress our signatories to create an inclusive culture we will be building on this foundation in future events and publications.

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