Religious inclusion in the workplace

Haleema Ayyub, our Project Officer Intern, has written a post about why religious inclusion is important in the workplace. These elements of people’s identity are often forgotten about and can create difficulty for individuals when working. Being an inclusive employer doesn’t just mean hiring a diverse workforce but rather implementing facilities that cater to different groups.

As a British Asian Muslim woman, religious inclusion in the workplace is highly important to me. Especially, as someone who is looking at prospective employers, I always aim to look at a company’s dedication to diversity. Diversity along the lines of ethnicity is more recognised. However, when it comes to religion, I think there is less discourse surrounding this topic. As we are approaching Ramadan 2022, inclusion when it comes to religious periods is highly important. As Ramadan goes back ten days every year, my generation’s exam season for the last 6 years has always been impacted by this period.

During this annually recurring period, there were and are never any special considerations given towards Muslim students- it is more of a thing we just have to deal with as a “product of our time”. Something that is also a product of our time is of course, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and how that has affected our understanding of flexibility. Undoubtedly, the flexibility that working from home generates particularly among working parents, and those for example observing religious commitments demonstrates that there is indeed an understanding at how important it is to guarantee that employees are comfortable. While this hybrid way of working has to some extent revolutionised the way we view work, more conversations need to happen regarding how work has changed and will still change in the near distant future. Constantly being open to change and being able to be adapt is highly important.

When it comes to different religious observances in the workplace, it is an area not often discussed. Now, more than ever, living in a cosmopolitan area such as London for example, where many people follow many different faiths, religious inclusion needs to be more clearly addressed. Legally, religious inclusion is necessary for employers to put into place. Employees do have the right to pray at work: ‘According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), “refusing to accommodate an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs or practices” is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For example, managers should do their best to make sure their workers feel comfortable enough to put these things into place:


– Flexible scheduling to accommodate religious practices (for example, if an employee cannot work during a religious holiday)

– Rescheduling job assignments

– Allowing employees to schedule in time for prayer

– Freedom to wear religious garments


While these laws are in place, not many employees feel comfortable enough to voice when extra support is needed.W hile diversity and inclusion is important on the grounds of ethnicity, the awareness of how religion affects employees adds more nuance to the issues of diversity. Furthermore, what would be most helpful is when new employees join a workplace, there should be some diversity training in place that teach employees the basics of different religious holidays observed.

There is definitely a lack of information surrounding different religious practices where people don’t know what people are celebrating or are too scared/ nervous to approach people because of the fear of sounding ignorant. Therefore, there should definitely be an agenda to ensure that people are able to learn about different festivals and be able to ask questions in a comfortable environment without either side feeling discriminated against. Ensuring there is a safe environment for everyone to learn about different practices is highly important and necessary for real religious inclusion.