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Understand the discrimination faced by black and minority people, support, gain information and take action. You can't be an Ally unless you understand the problem.

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By Halima Khan

In a time when faith is being tested across the world, used as a pawn in the political landscape, and misinterpreted and attacked, I wanted to take a different approach when I was asked to write a Ramadhan blog.

This year, I wanted to discuss how we can all navigate the diversity of faith in organisations and become successful leaders.

I could have easily scribbled down the do's and don'ts of this holy month: do show some flexibility, check in with your colleagues, create spaces for prayers, try to refrain from food and drink in front of fasting colleagues, and the list goes on.

For many Muslims, this is the most blessed month of the calendar. It's a month where the Quran (Holy Book) was released to the prophet (peace be upon him). It's also a month where Muslims observe one of the five compulsory commandments: fasting. The others include Shahaadah (Profession of Faith), Salaat (Prayer), Zakat (charity), and performing Hajj (Pilgrimage).

Many organisations will provide guides on how you can support your fellow colleagues who observe this month. Many will also fast as a show of solidarity towards their Muslim colleagues. Admirable indeed, and I love how this time of year brings many people together, religious or not, all under the curiosity of faith.

Ramadhan is a month of reflection, spiritual growth, giving, connecting, and exploring how we, as individuals, can be better, more disciplined, and patient, despite mental and physical struggles. So, I ask you to reflect: how can we be meaningful supporters and go beyond performative gestures of allyship? How are we showing up for those in our organisations who hold strong faith throughout the year and having conversations about what it means to hold faith-based principles in a world where faith is often virtue-signalled?

When we witness racism in society, we have it within us to be upstanders, not bystanders. Inclusion is more than just celebrating cultural or religious events; it's about how we, as individuals, speak out when our colleagues are marginalised for who they are and what they believe in, and when their faith-based practices are wrongfully attacked.

Current events in the world have brought a lot of attention to faith, and I've seen many organisations and leaders shrug off conversations, commenting that talking about religion at work is not the place or time—stick to the job at hand; this is a distraction. These same organisations, however, will wish people Ramadhan Mubarak, Happy Easter, Passover, and Vaisakhi over the next few weeks, and if we are lucky, we may even receive an invite to an event celebrating these occasions.

This type of virtue-signalling culture from leaders will create a disengaged workforce that finds it hard to bring their whole selves to work. The toll of this will be felt throughout the organisation. People are simple beings; we remember how you make us feel. So, speak with your actions, not just your words.

Over the coming weeks, four faiths will all celebrate various occasions. At the heart of each of these faiths lie common values: those of sacrifice, peace, humanity, equality, and inclusion of all. The great leaders of these faiths had one thing in common: they were servant leaders. Their focus was on others first; they were there to serve, not to be served. Their humility, compassion, and persuasion led to millions of followers and building a community because they had the foresight to think long-term legacy, not short-term gratification.

Leadership is about creating a vision and inspiring people to strive towards it. Faith is an example of having courage, humility, discipline, and the perseverance on how to navigate towards that vision, leading people to a growth mindset.

Strong leadership is not about cutting off conversations or shutting them down; it's about first acknowledging the diversity of staff you have and how world affairs impact people—after all, we are humans. Leaders can create an inclusive culture and a safe space to have such conversations and learn at the same time. Understanding faith can be complex; for some, it's an unknown area and can come with fear, risk, and disagreement, just like projects at work. But we still talk about the latter and navigate our way through by being curious, open, honest, and allowing for challenge.

As leaders, how will you have the conversations? How will you be an ally? How will you ensure inclusion isn't just about the cultural calendar? If we want to create a culture of change where inclusion is truly thriving, we must start by examining where we stand on the scale of allyship and being an upstander.

Over the coming weeks, as you look to understand, attend, celebrate, and release guidance on the upcoming celebrations of faiths all coinciding at the same time, do take some time to think about faith all year round, what it means beyond what you know. As you do that, I hope you find the connections of faith intertwined in inclusiveness, cohesion, and leadership.

To all those celebrating, I wish you a joyous and peaceful Ramadhan, followed by Eid, Vaisakhi, Easter, and Passover.

If you would like to know more about understanding and applying meaningful allyship into everyday leadership and how you can be an active and long-lasting upstander, get in touch with Halima on LinkedIn:

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In the fight for equity and justice, being an ally is an important starting point. Allies lend their support, voices, and empathy to marginalised communities, standing with them in the struggle for a more equitable world. But there comes a time when simply being an ally is not enough. It's time for you to be thinking of beyond allyship and becoming an accomplice!

Why is it important to make this shift? Allyship, though valuable, can sometimes be passive. It involves supporting a cause from the sidelines, but it may not always lead to tangible action or structural change. On the other hand, being an accomplice means actively working to dismantle oppressive systems, challenging the status quo, and putting yourself on the front lines alongside those facing discrimination. It's about recognising that true change requires more than words; it requires deeds and sacrifice.

So, here's the call to action: it's time to move from being an ally to becoming an accomplice. Here are some key steps to guide you on this transformative journey:

1. Educate Yourself: Start by gaining a deeper understanding of the issues at hand. Read books, articles, and research about the struggles faced by marginalised communities. Listen to their stories and experiences. Knowledge is the foundation upon which effective action is built.

2. Amplify Marginalised Voices: Use your platform and privilege to amplify the voices of those who are often silenced. Share their stories, experiences, and perspectives, and actively promote their work. Be a megaphone for their messages.

3. Challenge the Status Quo: Don't be afraid to question and challenge systems of oppression, even if it means discomfort or confrontation. Speak out against injustice, discrimination, and bias whenever you encounter it, whether it's in your workplace, social circles, or society at large.

4. Show Up and Support: Attend protests, rallies, and events organised by marginalised communities. Show your physical presence as a sign of solidarity. Donate to organisations that are actively working toward social justice causes.

5. Acknowledge and Reflect: Recognise your privilege and biases. Engage in self-reflection and ongoing personal growth. Understand that making mistakes is a part of the process, but commit to learning from them and doing better.

6. Be Consistent and Committed: Understand that this is a long-term commitment. True change takes time, effort, and dedication. Don't just engage when it's convenient or trending. Be consistent in your support and advocacy.

7. Work on Systemic Change: Advocate for policy changes that address systemic inequalities. Join or support initiatives that aim to dismantle oppressive structures and promote equitable systems.

8. Listen and Collaborate: Listen to the needs and priorities of the communities you're supporting. Collaborate with them rather than imposing your own solutions. Center their voices in the work you do together.

Remember, being an accomplice is not about seeking recognition or validation; it's about standing in solidarity and taking meaningful action for the betterment of society as a whole. The road to accomplicehood may be challenging, but it is a crucial step toward dismantling systems of oppression and building a more just and equitable world.

So, let's go beyond allyship, commit to becoming accomplices, and work together to create lasting, meaningful change. Our collective efforts can shape a brighter and more equitable future for all. Ready to move forward? Why not take one of our workshops - Beyond Allyship - contact me for further details:

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Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Windrush: Honouring the Legacy and Impact

This year marks the momentous 75th anniversary of the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush to the shores of the United Kingdom. The Windrush generation, consisting of thousands of individuals from the Caribbean, made significant contributions to post-war Britain. Today, I have the privilege of celebrating this milestone, as both my grandmother and mother were part of this remarkable chapter in history. Their journey from Trinidad to the UK not only shaped their lives but also paved the way for my own existence.

The Windrush Generation: Triumph in the Face of Adversity:

In the aftermath of World War II, Britain faced a shortage of labour and sought to rebuild the nation. The British government invited individuals from Commonwealth countries to fill the gaps in various sectors. This initiative led to the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush in 1948, carrying the first wave of Caribbean immigrants who became known as the Windrush generation.

The Journey of My Family:

My grandmother and mother embarked on their own transformative journey, leaving behind the familiarity of Trinidad for an uncertain future in the UK. They possessed an unwavering determination to seek opportunities, build better lives, and contribute to their new home.

The Impact on My Life:

As I reflect upon the 75th anniversary of Windrush, I am filled with immense gratitude. The sacrifices and resilience of my grandmother and mother have directly shaped my life. It is because of their bravery and vision that I exist today. Their experiences instilled in me a deep appreciation for my heritage and the importance of preserving the legacy of the Windrush generation.

The Cultural Enrichment:

The Windrush generation brought with them vibrant cultures, traditions, and a rich tapestry of Caribbean influence. They contributed immensely to the fields of arts, music, literature, and sports, enriching the cultural landscape of Britain. Their legacy continues to be celebrated through Caribbean carnivals, festivals, and the preservation of cultural traditions that have become integral parts of British society.

The Fight for Justice:

In recent years, the Windrush scandal exposed the injustices faced by the descendants of the Windrush generation. Many individuals were wrongfully detained, denied access to healthcare, or even threatened with deportation despite their rightful citizenship. The anniversary serves as a reminder of the ongoing battle for justice and the importance of rectifying the harms caused by systemic failures.

Honouring the Legacy: Our Collective Responsibility:

As we commemorate this significant anniversary, it is crucial to honour the contributions of the Windrush generation. We must actively work to create inclusive societies that recognise and appreciate the diverse heritage and experiences of all citizens. This entails challenging racism, advocating for fair immigration policies, and promoting equal opportunities for all.

Celebrating Diversity and Unity:

The Windrush generation and their descendants have made immense contributions to the fabric of British society. They have shaped our communities, enriched our culture, and contributed to the growth and prosperity of the nation. It is through celebrating our diversity, fostering understanding, and embracing unity that we can truly honour the legacy of Windrush.

As we mark the 75th anniversary of Windrush, let us recognise the extraordinary journeys of the Windrush Generation who built new lives in Britain. We owe a debt of gratitude to their courage, resilience, and determination. Their legacy lives on in the generations that followed, including my own. By acknowledging and celebrating the importance of Windrush, we continue the work of creating a more inclusive and equitable society for all.

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