A new report shows Muslims have the lowest employment rate of all faith groups in Wales, despite being the second largest religious group in the country.
The report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Wales has been launched as the commission seeks to galvanize employers to take on more Muslim staff, Wales Online reports.
The report – Creating a Faith Friendly Workplace for Muslims – finds followers of the Islamic faith are around 20% less likely to be in work than the overall population, despite more Muslims having degree level education.
Across Wales 69% of Muslims aged 16 to 24 are working, compared to 86% of the general population.
In the 24 to 49 age group 67% of Muslims are working, compared to 85% of the overall population.
The EHRC’s report explains how employers can benefit from hiring more Muslim employees and how this can be done. Having a diverse workforce can increase a company’s understanding of its diverse customers, as telecoms company BT testified. In Wales it employs 400 Muslims.
The EHRC found discriminatory and prejudiced attitudes are less likely to be held by those with wide social networks, which can be widened by having colleagues from different backgrounds.
Kate Bennett, director of EHRC Wales, said: “Meeting colleagues from different backgrounds builds understanding, widens perspectives, and contributes to creating cohesive communities.
“These positive feelings and a sense of well-being and belonging may be absent for those who are excluded from the labour market or who don’t feel comfortable or valued in work.”
To include more Muslims in Welsh workplaces the EHRC report recommends providing prayer rooms, flexitime for Friday prayers and halal and vegetarian food in canteens; as well as understanding the religious reasons why some people may choose not to shake hands or make eye contact, rather than assuming such behaviour is from lack of manners or poor interpersonal ability.
The Muslim population in Wales is growing rapidly, having doubled to 46,000 since 2011, nearly half of whom are under 25.