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God at the workplace: More U.S. businesses are encouraging religious expression

OFFICE,CUBICLE,CRUCIFIX

Marquette University CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

John Burger - published on 02/14/20

More than 20% of Fortune 100 businesses have established faith-based employee resource groups.

In some parts of the world, religious expression in the workplace has become almost taboo. Last year, Quebec banned many public employees from wearing religious symbols at work.

In the United States, there now seems to be a trend in allowing, even encouraging, religious expression in the workplace.

The Associated Press found that more than 20% of Fortune 100 businesses have established faith-based employee resource groups.

“It has become standard practice for U.S. corporations to assure employees of support regardless of their race, gender or sexual orientation,” AP said. “There’s now an intensifying push to ensure that companies are similarly supportive and inclusive when it comes to employees’ religious beliefs.”

One person who keeps tabs on that trend is Brian Grim, founder and president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation.

“As corporate America has become increasingly focused on creating environments where people can bring their whole selves to work regardless of their backgrounds or abilities, some companies are embracing diversity practices that go beyond the minimum legal requirements for accommodation [of religion in the workplace],” Grim wrote in the introduction of a detailed analysis ranking the Fortune 100 companies on their commitment to religious inclusion as part of those programs. The Foundation’s Corporate Religious Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (REDI) Index gives high marks to major companies like Google/Alphabet, Tyson Foods, and Intel for taking steps to recognize the importance of faith in the lives of employees.

The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation says it is “dedicated to educating the global business community, policymakers, non-government organizations and consumers about the positive power faith — and religious freedom for all — has on business and the economy.” With Catholic University of America’s Busch School of Business, it is hosting the first-ever national conference for faith-oriented Employee Resource Groups February 13-14. The event is bringing together ERG leaders from across corporate America to share their experiences, best practices and perspectives on the future of this accelerating trend toward faith-based ERGs at some of America’s biggest and most recognizable companies.

The Busch School was launched in 2013 with the aim of developing virtuous business leaders and using the resources of the Catholic intellectual tradition to advance a vision of business in service to society and human dignity.

“While special inclusion programs surrounding race, gender and sexual orientation are the norm, the business community is rapidly realizing that faith expression is critically important,” Grim was quoted in the announcement of the conference. “This conference will explore for the first time what’s working, challenges and ways businesses can foster a more faith-inclusive environment to lift all boats.”

“The religious dimension is an essential part of human life, and any vibrant business ought to welcome and support this dimension,” added Andrew Abela, dean of the Busch School of Business.

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