Saturday, October 6, 2012

Muslim Employment and Marketing

The Muslim population is growing rapidly worldwide. In the U.S, it's expected to double by 2030 to 6.2 million.

Here are some thoughts regarding careers for and serving Muslims and marketing to Muslims:

Sensitivity to Muslim employees' needs
  • Observant Muslims pray five times a day. In many if not most situations, it seems to me reasonable for an employer to offer Muslim employers flexible hours. Of course, s/he must get as much work done as a non-Muslim employee.
  • Just as employers have appropriately become more tolerant of employees that wear nose rings and tattoos, even in customer-facing positions, I believe employers should not be biased against job candidates that wear a hijab and burka (veil and modest outfit,) even in customer-facing positions. That said, as of now, it may be easier for Muslims to find professional-level work in such fields as accounting, engineering, and writing, for example, technical writing.
Attracting Muslim consumers
  • Observant Muslims value sexual modesty, religiosity, and family. Advertising that reflects that will be more effective.
  • Clothiers expecting to appeal to Muslim women should, in addition to hijabs and burkas, American-style dresses and skirts, but of longer length, even in the summer months.
  • Consider an advertising campaign around Eid, which is a gift-giving holiday.
  • Muslims are forbidden to touch alcohol or pork. Much makeup uses alcohol and pork fats. To attract Muslim consumers, vendors should sell makeup with neither. 
FYI: You might ask, "Why would someone with veil-covered face care to wear makeup?" Answer: She is allowed to remove the veil at home.
Employment and Self-Employment Opportunities Serving Muslims
  • Observant Muslim women will not disrobe for medical examinations and treatments if the practitioner is a man. More female health care providers are needed, especially those speaking Arabic and/or Farsi.
  • Muslims eat Halal meat, in which animals are slaughtered in, let's just say a different, way. Muslims also eat more goat than do other groups. Halal meat farmers and distributors should thrive.
  • Muslims are not allowed to charge interest on loans. There are workarounds. Financiers who specialize in Sukuk, bonds, where the lender takes part-ownership, should do well.
  • Halal-friendly tourism: tours offering Halal food, hotels with sex-segregated pools and that do not serve alcohol, schedules that allow five prayer periods a day, include Mosque visits, etc. 
  • Halal personal chefs
  • Islamic studies programs are burgeoning at universities. While in most fields, PhDs have trouble landing a professorship, it may be easier for PhDs in Islamic Studies.
  • The CIA and related agencies seek candidates competent in one or more Middle Eastern languages and cultures. 
  • Muslim psychologists, especially "matrimonial counselors." While there is a growing Muslim feminist movement, most Muslim relationships are different from typical Americans'. Psychologists and other counselors who understand and respect the Muslim approach to relationships may flourish. 
  • Teachers in Muslim schools. Muslim schools in the U.S. are increasing.  
  • In business development or sales, you may want to develop a plan to tap the worldwide Arab market: 350,000,000 consumers, not just in the Middle East but in Africa, and in countries such as Indonesia and Pakistan.

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