Employers Reach Out to New Zealand Muslims

Employers are eager to understand the realities facing the Muslim community's employees

A New Zealand law firm has hosted a ‘Diversity Works’ event recently to encourage NZ employers  and help them recruit Muslims and refugees, NZ Herald reported on July 8.

“A key reason for the event was an increased number of calls from people in their member organizations saying, ‘I worry that I’m not doing the right thing, that I might hurt someone’s feelings’,” explained Diversity Works’ chief executive, Rachel Hopkins.

“We thought that if you feel strongly enough to pick up the phone and ask for help, it’s important that we help you grow your understanding of the realities your employees from these important communities face, and how you can best help them feel included and valued in your organization,” he continued.

The event, hosted by law firm Russell McVeagh, was held in cooperation with ‘Refugees As Survivors NZ’ (RASNZ).

Interestingly, one of the two guest speakers was Fahima Saeid who arrived in New Zealand as a refugee in 2001 from Kabul, Afghanistan.

Saeid and her husband were both medical doctors, had a good income, a comfortable life and a lot to give back.

“It’s obligatory for Muslims if they have more than enough to cover their families’ living costs, to give extra to people who are in a less fortunate situation,” she told the audience.

After the American Invasion of Afghanistan in 2003, Saeid and her husband fled with their three children and two suitcases to neighboring Pakistan where, after a year, they were told they would be going to New Zealand.

“I went through an identity crisis – I didn’t know who I was anymore. However, I was lucky enough to find good people who guided me in changing the pathway I was so passionate about,” admitted Saeid who has retrained as a counselor and has worked with RASNZ since 2006 as an advocate counselor and a family services coordinator.

“I regained my identity by helping other people with a refugee background and following my Islamic belief in giving back. General courtesy rules when dealing with people from different cultures, treat people as you want to be treated and if you’re not sure what to do, just ask them,” she expressed.

The number of Muslims in New Zealand according to the 2013 census is 46,149, up 28% from 36,072 in the 2006 census.

The majority of New Zealand Muslims are Sunnis but there is a large number of Shias who live in New Zealand, concentrated mainly in Auckland (the largest city of New Zealand).

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