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Respecting the Diversity of Faiths in the workplace




Religion in the workplace


South Africa has a diverse religious population. Its constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Many religions are represented in the ethnic and regional diversity of the population, which makes South Africa the perfect melting pot of cultures and traditions. I do ask this question, why are we all not allowed the same holidays in the workplace?


Many factors are at play, but we can all agree that it requires a fair HR and Management team to be open-minded and fair to the minorities in the office, this shows mutual respect, which is due to all employees.

The Challenge


As a Christian, I take many things for granted at work. For instance, having certain days off due to religious holidays (Christmas, Easter etc.). However, what about other faiths? Judaism, African religions, Hinduism, and Islam. For example, Islam and Judaism are not given the same courtesy? One of their biggest celebratory days in Islam, Eid, is usually taken from employees’ annual leave as those of the faith must put the request in for time off. Is this due to the following size (a religious minority)? In every company in every office in Cape Town alone, you are almost guaranteed to have at least one Muslim and/or Jewish person in a room at any given time. So why are they not treated the same with regards to their holy days?


Many factors are at play, but we can all agree that it requires a fair HR and Management team to be open-minded and fair to the minorities in the office, this shows mutual respect, which is due to all employees.


Consider dietary requirements of employees during lunch meetings and events. Include kosher, halal, and vegetarian options. For those who are fasting, offer take-out containers. Provide other drink options at parties for those who abstain from alcohol.

The Solution


Religious cohesion starts and is most obvious in schools and places of education. Different children and young adults live amongst, work with and attend school with fellow South Africans of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, atheist, African and agnostic beliefs. Starting from the grass-roots level, these holy days must be taught to be respected and followed in the workplace.






Here are 6 steps to support religious diversity in the workplace:


Acknowledge religious practices Include major religious and cultural holidays on a calendar to help set work schedules. Be mindful of these dates when planning meetings or events and raise team awareness of upcoming faith-related events.


Grant time off to employees for religious reasons Be flexible with religions that require worship at specific times. For instance, managers can allow employees to use their lunch break for worship even if it is ordinarily at a different time. Also, allow employees to use personal paid or unpaid leave for religious holidays.


Welcome attire and grooming tied to religious beliefs Sincerely held religious practices, such as wearing a beard, hijab or turban, are protected by law. Accommodate religious attire and other symbols when there are no health and safety risks involved for the employee or co-workers.


Provide a multifaith prayer room during working hours Accommodate the spiritual needs of employees by having a quiet room for the purposes of prayer, meditation and private reflection.


Offer meal and drink options Consider dietary requirements of employees during lunch meetings and events. Include kosher, halal, and vegetarian options. For those who are fasting, offer take-out containers. Provide other drink options at parties for those who abstain from alcohol.


Create an interfaith employee resource group Creating an employee resource group (ERG) that focuses on interfaith dialogue provides a supportive environment for employees to share and learn about varied religious identities.


Source: https://www.traliant.com/


Many solutions could be implemented to practice diversity in the workplace. This is something that could be changed to better accommodate everyone in the office space and is something that should be investigated as everyone has a right to practice their faith and have those holy days be respected as we do at DLK Group.





At DLK we are open to diversity and inclusion of all faiths and backgrounds. Our workplace creates a more fulfilling work experience for all our consultants and staff, with a focus on uplifting morale and staff engagement. Apply for your dream job and check out our career page: https://www.dlkgroup.com/careers and don't miss out on using our FREE CV Template to help you with a starting point for completing your updated CV.


Written By Ryan Bulpitt

Image Source: Macrovector and Pexels




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