Ramadan practice is good business practice

Many of the core values of Ramadan are those that should be integrated as core values of an organization

Image used for illustrative purpose. Emirates Towers are seen between the twin minarets of a mosque in Dubai.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Emirates Towers are seen between the twin minarets of a mosque in Dubai.

REUTERS/Steve Crisp

As an expat in the Middle East, one of the biggest and surprisingly beneficial adjustments to business is factoring in the practice of Ramadan.

While the initial assumption might be that a month-long holiday would slow progress, I have observed it to do just the opposite.

The Western notion of productivity is often an illusion of busy work that doesn’t apply to the big picture goals of an organization, or even to an individual’s objectives within their own career path.

Taking the time to stop and assess where we are is not only impactful, it is also crucial for the health and longevity of individuals and their communities. The same goes for a company as well. The strength of an organization begins with concise, definitive values and, with time, it can become easy for a company to become removed from them.

Yet keeping the entity’s core values in mind is essential to shaping its vision.

These values shape company culture, reinforce the decision-making process, and make certain that everyone within the organization is working together toward the same goals.

Having clearly defined core values is also indispensable to company identity when presenting itself to the public and potential clients or partners.

Defining and staying true to these values, however, takes time and reflection.

In my perspective, there are parallels between the practice of Ramadan and the fortification of a business.

Indeed, many of the core values of Ramadan are those that should be integrated as core values of an organization.

Discipline, conflict resolution and reconciliation, self-reflection, acts of kindness, and spiritual recentering and regeneration are all concepts that have benefits extending beyond the religious holiday.

All of these values help us see ourselves through the white noise and develop into better versions of ourselves. The same can be said when they are applied to the business world.

Even the act of slowing down and allowing space and time for reflection is applicable to good business.

Michael Mankins and Eric Garton, authors of “Time, Talent and Energy,” fault the organization for high burnout rates within a company, citing lack of downtime or time set aside for idea generation as the main culprits.

It is true that some of the best ideas in business occur with a change in pace and scenery and, therefore, perspective.

While physical fasting is a cornerstone of Ramadan, it extends to every aspect of life in the sense of refraining from bad words, actions, and thoughts. While most businesses dedicate energy on assessing weakness, not all businesses put the same amount of effort toward understanding of what is done right.

Utilizing a period of time to deeply focus on this, a company can glean invaluable insights and opportunities to excel and scale what is already working. In other words, organizations can apply the basic fundamentals of gratitude to optimize more opportunity.

Community is another key component to both Ramadan and good business.

Ramadan is a time when bonds are strengthened, relationships take precedence over output, and when the collective good is put before individual success.

Spending time strengthening the bonds of community is crucial for any group to flourish, whether it be neighborhood, city, or country. To add onto that, a thriving company community will directly relate to a thriving business.

Fostering and caring for a dynamic, healthy company culture is step one to attracting and retaining top talent. In turn, when a business is able to demonstrate that it has the capability to care for its community, it simultaneously demonstrates an ability for comprehensive foresight at every level.

Tied into this is charity and the act of giving back.

As one of the main pillars of Islam, charity is a massive part of Ramadan. It’s also a pivotal benefit for good business practice, boosting company morale and providing a positive public outlook for an organization. And, just as the act of giving during Ramadan allows us to see outside our own needs, the same can be said for businesses, allowing for broader perspective and a reignition of big picture goals.

For no matter the sector, at the core, good business is about providing value to the world in some shape or form.

• Carla DiBello is a documentarian and founder and CEO of CDB Advisory, a bespoke consulting firm that bridges connections across private sectors throughout the Middle East and North America.

Twitter: @CarlaDiBello

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