Muslim women who observe Islamic dress codes discriminated against in the workplace is a controversial subject. Employers are responsible for creating a diverse and inclusive workplace; however, they sometimes fall short when hijab and niqab-wearing Muslimahs are present.
Here's how a company can create a work environment that is diverse and inclusive of others:
Workplace Diversity: Provide diversity orientation for all employees
Diversity orientation is essential when building a healthy organization. This training should include information on different religions and cultures represented within the company. These critical differences are required to be acknowledged, including the ideas of modesty, touch restriction, privacy, diet, and even alcohol intake restrictions. Employees equipped with the right information regarding Islamic and other religious practices would help the organization have an inclusive relationship. Aside from it, colleagues must know what acceptable or unacceptable behaviors are, and the repercussions of such discrimination.
Understanding the Islamic Dress Code: Muslim Modesty
As defined, the Islamic dress code is the wearing of loose-fitting clothes that do not show the body's natural shape and the covering of the head and breast with a scarf called the hijab (hijabi). Some Muslim women observe a niqab (niqabi) covering the face except for the eyes. You will find a niqabi will also wear gloves.
Knowing Touch Restrictions
It is prohibited for Muslim women to touch or be touched by males outside her family. Therefore, Muslim women will not shake hands with male co-workers; it is unacceptable.
Muslims pray five times a day. Privacy to pray at the prescribed times and attend Friday prayers for male Muslims will strengthen a sense of well-being.
Muslims adhere to a pork-free diet.
Muslims are prohibited from consuming alcohol.
Prohibited Participation In Workplace Events
Participation and workplace events conducted where alcohol served is prohibited. I can't tell you how many times I've been invited to networking or work events where alcohol served and could not attend; it made me feel alienated.
Be transparent: disseminate information to employees regarding religious clothing such as hijab and niqab Islamic dress codes.
Women who practice Islamic faith have been experiencing intimidation in the workplace, knowing all the stereotypes buzzing around. A release of an official memo addressing the issue would ensure Muslim women employees are valued and respected within the organization's diversified workforce.
I once worked at a company where my supervisor asked me to go to the back of the office so a client would not see me, fearing the client might fire the company for hiring a Muslim. I was shocked, and I felt awkward, not knowing how to react, so I just agreed to comply. However, another supervisor stopped me before I could go to the back office. They later apologized, but I still felt violated. This incident was the point where I no longer felt valued at the company.
Respect of One's Religion: Is Diversity at work
Most people think diversity is just about race and color, however, diversity covers a wide spectrum of differences including religion. Respecting employee's religion is diversity at work. All employees matter and their differences make them unique and valuable.
By diversifying recruitment processes, Muslim women and others feel they are interviewing for a company that values their skills and presence. Diversity is good for the company and its consumers. People want to do business with people they trust and have something in common; if your customer base is diverse, your workforce must mirror it.
In Conclusion, I challenge companies to evaluate the last time a Muslim woman dressed in traditional Islamic clothes applied for a position: its reaction and the outcome. Even the most progressive companies would fail this challenge. So, what are you going to do to create a culture of true diversity within your company?
Thank you for reading. For more information contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please comment below.