After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, many American Muslims encountered increased hostility in the workplace, both overt and subtle. But that has changed in the last few years, as more corporations have become increasingly aware of the need for religious inclusion.
Lina Sayed’s parents didn’t want their 24-year-old daughter to face ridicule fresh out of school at New York University (NYU). Their concerns grew stronger after Sayed decided she would wear a hijab at her new job with JPMorgan Chase, No. 9 on The 2007 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity® list.
Sayed’s parents warned her about job discrimination, especially in the wake of Sept. 11. Seeing that the nation’s collective fervor to get “them” before they get “us” led too many people to turn on their Muslim neighbors and coworkers, Sayed’s parents were worried she would be isolated or an easy target.
“You can’t deny that when you walk into an office [wearing a hijab, the headscarf worn by Muslim women], that’s the first thing people notice,” says Sayed. But in a way, that’s precisely what she wanted.
“A lot of Muslims are sensitive and insecure and a lot of people are discriminatory,” says Sayed, who decided to start wearing a hijab after graduating from NYU and attending a Muslim conference that took place at the Manhattan Center in 2005.
“It was a great experience, and after that, I decided to wear it,” says Sayed. “Wearing it was very natural for me. I’ve always been Muslim but I have never looked the part. You have to look the part to deal with being the part. So for me to go out there wearing the hijab was a great experience.” (MORE)