Having a diverse range of people in your workplace is a necessity these days. And businesses should work to be as culturally minded as possible in order to make sure that all of their employees – and customers – feel welcome.
While being a good person is a decent first step, you should do more to make sure that your diverse employees are welcome and in a space free of microaggressions and biases. While this topic covers an entire book, we thought we’d help you get started with 3 basic tips you can work on right away to being culturally minded in the workplace.
Research Your Employee’s backgrounds
It’s ok to not know about the background of all of your employees, but there are some basics everyone should know. Muslims, for example, don’t eat pork and many pray at set times 5 times per day. It would save your Muslim employee time and worry if you took initiative and offered time and space for prayer. That way, your employee doesn’t have to worry about being in a situation where they have to hide their faith to keep their job.
Another example is knowing that Buddhists are often vegetarians, or Jews observe the Sabbath from Friday evening to Saturday evening. Don’t know what Sabbath is? That’s a good place to start researching ;).
Keep Track of Different Religious Holidays
In this country we gravitate pretty heavily towards Christian holidays. But what about all the other holidays that everyone else celebrates. Everyone doesn’t have to take off for every holiday, but having a policy where – with advance notice – employees are allowed off for a holiday they celebrate will usually not harm your business. It will also encourage greater cultural awareness in the office.
And it’s important to remember that some religions have periods of fasting, and it’s very helpful for you to know what that entails. If you run on a business that relies on physical labor, then you should go easy on your Muslim workers.
Many people are used to working through fast, but the help and support will always be appreciated.
Listen and Be Honest
As we said before, it’s ok to not know how to best be supportive for your employees. It’s important to remember that every individual human behaves differently for different customs. After all, how many people do you know who don’t go to Church on Christmas day? Some Muslims don’t fast, some Jews are happy to work during Sabbath, some might be very strict in how they interpret their practice and others might not care at all.
The best solution it to be honest. Let them know what you know and don’t know. Let them know that you’re willing to make accommodations for them so that they are safe and welcome in the workplace. And just ask them, “what can I do to make sure you are safe and welcome here?”