Adam Khan, Sustainability Assurance Associate in ERM’s Certification and Verification Services Team, is one of many colleagues at ERM who observes Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar marked with fasting, prayer, reflection, and community. Here, he discusses what Ramadan means to him, how colleagues can support anyone celebrating religious observances and how this helps to further build an inclusive culture.  

Ramadan is the holiest month of the Islamic calendar, beginning on 22 March, and it differs markedly to my ‘normal’ working day in many ways. Whilst Ramadan is known as a period where Muslims abstain from food and water during daylight hours, it is also a time where Muslims aim to connect closer to God through other means such as late-night prayer and giving charitable donations.  

On a ‘typical’ day during Ramadan, I will wake up much earlier than normal so that I can eat before sunrise, which is when the period of fasting begins. Once I have eaten (known as Suhur), I will perform the first of five prayers of the day. I will not eat or drink for the next 12 hours, and starting my day with prayer in this way helps me to feel a sense of calm. I start my working day earlier than I normally would, before performing two more prayers in early and late afternoon. I tend to work from home more often during Ramadan, but if I am in the office prayer room facilities have been made available for me and any other colleagues to undertake afternoon prayers. After sunset, I break my fast (known as ‘iftar’), often with a date. Although this is not mandatory it is a preferred custom of many Muslims observing Ramadan, to emulate the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). A large meal follows, often with my family and friends, before late night prayers.  

Whilst Ramadan may appear extremely challenging to anyone who does not observe it, personally it is my most enjoyable month of the year, as it allows me to feel better connected to my faith. It reminds me of the importance of having an appreciation for things we often take for granted and of connecting with family, friends and the wider community. Faith is a core foundation for how many people aim to live their lives, as it is for me, and is an important part of being your authentic self.  

Although during Ramadan I am not able to partake in certain activities with my team, such as having lunch together, knowing that my line manager and team are willing to make accommodations for me during this time, makes me feel supported and included. I strongly encourage anyone celebrating religious observances to speak with their team to make them aware that you may have to approach work differently during this period. For example, for me starting and finishing work earlier, to avoid meetings later in the day when my energy levels are lower, makes a big difference to me feeling supported during what is an important time of the year.   

It is important to me that ERM recognizes and supports me and other colleagues who partake in religious observances so that I feel able to bring all of my unique experiences and strengths to work each day. Being inclusive in this way ensures that we foster new ways of thinking and to learn from each other in a supportive community.  

Adam Khan is a Sustainability Assurance Associate in ERM’s Certification and Verification Services Team based in London, UK. As part of his role, he ensures that the ESG data companies report is trustworthy.