29th April 2022

How we can celebrate differences and forge togetherness in the workplace

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In this month’s blog, our Commercial Director Darren Jalink shares his thoughts on the once in 30-year meeting of Ramadan, Pesach, and Easter in the calendar and examines how this sense of unity can relate to the workplace.

Circle of people leaning outwards and holding hands to hold each other up, in front of background of sunset

 

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 this April, 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 are 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.

So what? 

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.

For me, the meeting of these religious holidays highlights how we are all fundamentally more similar than we are different. It became clear to me that we, as human beings with all of our religions, cultures, customs, traditions, upbringings, faiths, and beliefs have something that connects us all. We are all more than one faith, one belief, or any one part of ourselves. As people, friends, colleagues, and leaders, we should be striving both to discover and celebrate our differences, to explore our unlikely similarities and to find common ground where we didn’t know it existed.

“We are all more than one faith, one belief, or any one part of ourselves.”

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.