Diversity also includes creeds. Brian J. Grim, president of the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation, proposes ways to foster honest conversations, freedom, and mutual respect in organizations where people of different faiths coexist.
Spirituality – with or without adherence to different creeds – is one of the aspects of diversity, a topic that dominates the agenda of contemporary organizations. Brian J. Grim, president of Religious Freedom and Business Foundation, an association that works to promote diverse work environments in terms of belonging – or not – to different religious groups, proposes to promote open and respectful dialogue about religions among organizations’ members.
—How to integrate creeds and spirituality in organizations?
—Many companies employ people who are very different from each other and work on diversity through the creation of groups that promote dialogue between people of, for example, different ethnicities. The same happens with religions. The goal is for them to support each other and others, because doing so will make the company successful.
—Do companies promote this type of policy frequently?
—Many of the largest such as Google, Facebook, American Airlines, Texas Instrument, Amex, etc. have already implemented this type of action.
—How do you make people feel that their faith is valued and respected?
—First, by giving them the chance to have honest conversations. Contemplate that people have different religions or do not practice any. I insist: it is about having honest conversations, especially among those who have deep convictions.
—What happens when they don’t believe in others or in their beliefs?
—When you look for a conversation, you find that there are deep values in common, whether they are Christian, Muslim, etc. Spaces are enabled to comment on concerns. Everyone can support each other within the framework of freedom, which allows them to feel valued. Those who can bring their faith to work feel they can do better as the workspace is transformed into a space for sharing.
—What kind of internal actions are carried out regarding individual beliefs in the organizations that promote these policies?
—Diversity is celebrated in these groups. It is frustrating when one cannot celebrate their own faith and, furthermore, the rest do not understand it, whether they are Muslim, Christian or professing any other creed. On Facebook, for example, they have a large division dedicated to getting to know religions, because it is the way in which employees can understand the creed of their peers who, for example, live in a distant region from their own, in another culture. Religious diversity also has benefits on a business level because organizations and their employees can better understand customers.
—Is this type of diversity encouraged in teams?
—Yes. Intel is an example of that. It has a network that interconnects Christians, Jews, Buddhists and atheists who work as an intercultural group. An employee from Costa Rica found a position to go to Malaysia and his concern was how to adjust to a place he knew nothing about; nor about Islamism. Thanks to this group, he was able to make Muslim friends and they helped him have a better connection with the people of Malaysia. That was thanks to the work of that team. If companies do business in a Muslim country or in another where religion or culture is foreign to them, these teams are very important.
—Will the companies develop these types of policies further?
—These are policies that are growing very fast within companies. This is something that did not happen four years ago at Google. And now it already has 8,000 members in these groups. Walmart also has religious groups nowadays. Every day a company calls me to help them with these ideas, it is a movement that is accelerating. And the reason is that it is very good for business.
—And it must be good outside the company too, for society as a whole.
—”Yes, that’s what’s happening.” The friendship that is generated in the company and taken outside the workplace also allows new ideas to emerge that help the community. All these groups generate a good conscience, be they of women, of certain ethnic groups, or others, because it is about working together to help combat prejudice and that ends up having an impact on different levels.
—”You’re very optimistic about the future, then .”
—”Yes, I am very optimistic. Today, for example, we had a very deep interfaith conversation at Google. Understanding people in these areas helps the company and many other organizations as well.”