Emrana Sheikh checked her calendar for her next appointment. She was about to call out to an officer when she realized everyone on the floor was at lunch. She returned to her computer. The sales conference would begin in two days and she wanted to get through the day’s tasks early so she could go home and pack.
Just then a new mail notification popped up on her screen. Emrana clicked on it. It was an email from the team that was organizing the sales conference and it reiterated her travel and stay details. She scanned through the mail quickly confirming that everything was on track and then closed it. Her mailbox showed one more email from the same sender.
Dear Emrana, (it read), this being the month of Ramadan, you must be fasting and would need to break your fast at the right time. So we have arranged for iftar and sehri for you at the sales conference. Please find time and venue details for the same.
Jayantee, her officer, returned from lunch at that very minute and heard Emrana say ‘Oh!’ softly. Emrana had a smile on her face. She asked her if she needed anything. Emrana shook her head and returned to her screen and read the mail again. Never in her 23 years of working, had she seen a gesture of this kind by an organization.
The next day she reached Chennai in the late afternoon. As evening approached, she checked in. Then she made her way down to the dining hall to break her fast. She found the room milling with people.
As she drank her first glass of water in the day, she realized the room was full of only Asian Paints people. There were TSOs, SSOs and people from every other sales role, around 50 of them. Emrana began to eat, reflecting that these colleagues would usually be gathered in more formal settings. But in here, they were all just people who were breaking their fast together.
Nearly 900 people had been invited to the sales conference (South and East Division). But the company had also remembered the people who were observing the Ramadan fast and made special arrangements for them. Emrana was touched. She had grown up in a diverse culture, not even noticing when other people ate while she was fasting. She had been all over the world and worked for many different organisations. But nowhere, not even in the countries where Ramadan was observed strictly, had she seen an organisation do this.
At 4 the next morning, Emrana opened the day with the others at sehri. The sales conference would begin later. It was a good start.
The experience was shared by Emrana Sheikh, the Vice President of HR.
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