Unity in the workplace
I truly believe that celebrating both what makes us all different and what connects us is at the centre of any strong, healthy, high-performing workplace. I have been thinking about this a lot of late, having recently discovered that in April 2022, three significant religious festivals occur around the same time. I decided to do some digging into the timing of the events and have been reflecting on what I think it means to me as a person, a colleague, and a leader.
What I discovered
Ramadan, Pesach (commonly called Passover), and Easter only converge roughly every 30 years. Each of these events is significant in their respective religions – Ramadan being an Islamic holiday, Pesach being Jewish, and Easter being Christian.
The events come together so rarely because the Islamic and Jewish calendars are aligned with the moon and the lunar year, which contain 354 days, while the Christian calendar is determined by the solar year and has 365 days. So it takes about 30 years for them to meet.
Looking into the unlikely convergence of these dates actually provided me with a profound sense of inspiration. Like these three significant events can come together and overlap, so I believe can all our stories, faiths, and cultures.
We are all more than one faith, one belief, or any one part of ourselves.Darren Jalink
In my research into these religious dates, I saw that many people are already making wonderful gestures of kindness, showing support for the authentic identities of those around them. During Ramadan, NHS Trusts provided Fast Packs to employees, and top-flight referees stopped games. Both actions were designed to support people who needed to break their fast.
Workplaces have seen Jewish and Christian colleagues swap shifts with their peers to enable observances to be kept at required days and times. Events and celebrations have been arranged outside of traditional 9 to 5 hours so colleagues could come together to eat, drink, and strengthen bonds.
Now, I declare myself to be a cynical optimist – constantly in an internal battle between believing in a bright, positive future for humankind and being unsure of how we’ll get there. But learning about the great examples of kindness and allyship in action has given even this cynical optimist more belief that there is a way for us all to be better partners, teams, and leaders.
We have more information at our fingertips than at any previous point. With this comes the amazing opportunity to learn and take a step toward a greater understanding and appreciation of culture, beliefs, and identities different from our own. I believe we should, be it as leaders, colleagues, or friends, use that information to take that step and, where we can, celebrate differences and find common ground with those around us. It is by doing this that I believe we will be able to forge togetherness in the workplace and create happier and healthier workplace cultures.
This blog post was written by Darren Jalink, Commercial Director, Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion. It was originally posted on 29 April 2021 and revised in July 2022.