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Religious Diversity in the Workplace

Religious Diversity in the Workplace

According to a 2008 study of over 500 Senior Executives, “More than ever, businesses, governments, non-profits and other organizations are finding it necessary to adopt a global mindset in order to remain viable and relevant in today’s global marketplace.  As organizations recognize the importance of developing greater cross-cultural competence, diversity and inclusion practitioners are at the forefront.”   - Global Diversity and Inclusion – A study conducted by Economist Intelligence Unit for SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management.

The Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia is one of the few organizations in the country that helps employers respond to workplace issues related to religious diversity.

We offer organizations and companies, hospitals, schools, and government organizations a flexible mix of workshops, training programs and seminars that promote understanding, cooperation, and positive relationships between individuals of all faiths or none.

Our programs help executives, HR professionals, managers, doctors, nurses, teachers, and a wide variety of employees to learn more about particular religious traditions and to meet real people who share personal stories, offer insights, and answer questions relevant to their context.

Download Our Brochure to learn more about what we offer.

Questions to Consider in the Workplace

How do we create a comfortable work environment for people of all faiths and for those who are 'non-religious?'

Simple, everyday practices reflect our culture. What foods do we serve at meetings and in our cafeteria? Are we aware of holidays and fast days that impact the scheduling and nature of key meetings? Do we display symbols at holiday times? Do we create opportunities and “safe spaces” to assess how such practices contribute to a comfortable work environment for people of diverse cultures and faiths, as well as for those who are “non-religious”?

How do we recognize and welcome religious difference?

At times, religious differences are visible through head coverings, clothing, jewelry, etc.  What assumptions and responses do these evoke in our managers and fellow employees?  Do religious differences invite curiosity or discomfort? Enrich or divide work teams?

Frequently, religious diversity is invisible and core parts of our employees’ lives and identities are not known or understood.  Are there times when informal or formal communication has been inadvertently offensive?  Are there missed opportunities to engage personnel?

How do we accommodate religious diversity?

Do our Employee Policies and Codes of Conduct include accommodations that embrace religious diversity?  Do we have flexible dress codes?  Make allowances for time off for religious holidays?  When religious practice requires an employee to pray during the work day, is there an appropriate private space that can be used for such purposes? Is there flexibility in break times?

What do we need to know and where do we turn?

Do we have a place to turn to learn more about the faith expressions and needs of our personnel – proactively and in response to questions or concerns that arise?  How can we get accurate information, especially about people of minority faith traditions?  What competencies are needed to create an inclusive, engaging work environment?

What’s New

For consultation or questions relating to our religious diversity in the workplace programs, please contact Rev. Josh Blakesley at 215-222-1012, ext. 7 or jgb@interfaithcenterpa.org.