I’m the co-chair of Avanade’s new Muslim Employee Network – here’s how we’re building community among Muslim and non-Muslim employees alike
- Posted on April 19, 2023
- Estimated reading time 2 minutes
Throughout my life, I’ve witnessed the impact of negative stereotypes about Islam.
I know people tend to fear what they don’t understand, and that discrimination often stems from ignorance or misinformation. It goes without saying that these experiences can prove highly isolating for Muslims. Yet at the same time, I see people in my life – both personally and professionally – who are well-intentioned and curious about Islam.
So earlier this year, when my colleagues and I launched Avanade’s first-ever Muslim Employee Network, we knew we wanted to put a spotlight on education and providing resources for people to learn more about the Islamic faith. Working alongside the rest of the Muslim EN leadership team, the core EN members huddled together to draft a roadmap and establish our mission and goals as an employee network. We honed our focus on several key issues, including how we could foster connections among the diverse array of Muslims within Avanade while also working to demystify Islam for non-Muslims.
Luckily, the occasion of Ramadan – the holiest month of the Islamic calendar, which occurs this year from March 22 through April 20 – provided the perfect opportunity to get started with our educational efforts. Ahead of the month, we hosted a webinar to help employees learn about Ramadan, working our way through a myriad of topics: everything from why Muslims fast from sunrise to sundown, to how people can support their Muslim colleagues during this time, to various Ramadan traditions. We also were able to publish our first blog as an Employee Network, spotlighting how one employee celebrates the holiday with his family. In doing so, we want to highlight the countless positive aspects of Islam, and how the religion functions as a beacon of community, charity and doing good by others.
We’ve received an excellent response from our colleagues, many of whom are eager to deepen their understanding of Islam. But of course, we’re equally focused on serving as a forum for Muslim employees here at Avanade. Our colleagues at Beyond – the multicultural Employee Network based in Europe – have already done an excellent job fostering those connections, and in our capacity as an employee network, we’re aiming to continue building community by bridging the gaps between nationality and time zones. Islam is an extremely diverse, multicultural religion, practiced across the globe by almost two billion people. Even so, in the Western world, it’s easy to feel invisible. By creating an employee network, we want to elevate the experiences of Muslims here at Avanade, providing new opportunities for networking and promoting professional growth among our membership.
It’s been a whirlwind few months since we launched in February. But as we approach Eid al-Fitr – the festival of breaking fast that marks the end of Ramadan, and a time to celebrate with family and friends – I’m looking forward to all that’s still to come.