Religion at the 2012 Multicultural Forum on Workplace Diversity

An interesting article in Business Insurance argues that knowledge of the law and good training of supervisors and managers can defuse many situations that lead to religious discrimination claims. The article advises employers to review company policies, and make sure that managers understand their obligation to accommodate religious needs.

The author of this article, Judy Greenwald, accurately speaks to the ways in which companies can and should avoid litigation when it comes to religion, urging employers to be vigilant and act promptly when signs of intolerance arise.

It’s often very easy to identify the overt manifestations of intolerance in the workplace (like this case, for example, in which complaints allege that supervisors and coworkers threw blood and meat at Muslim employees). But what about when intolerance becomes more subtle? At Tanenbaum, we support managers’ vigilance with a resource called the “10 Bias Danger Signs.” Identified through Tanenbaum’s benchmarking survey of employees, these “10 Bias Danger Signs” include the ways in which religion most frequently emerges in the workplace, like attire, employee networks, and socializing.

Avoiding litigation and reacting to problems appropriately is important, and the “10 Bias Danger Signs” can serve as an early warning tool. But it can also be used to identify places where religious diversity can be more thoroughly addressed within a company’s policies, practices, and D&I programming. When religious diversity in the workplace is proactively addressed and included within an overall D&I strategy, businesses may see an increase in productivity, improved morale, and better client/customer relations.

At the 2012 Multicultural Forum on Workplace Diversity, Mark Fowler will be presenting a PDI session on this topic on March 20th.  In his session “Digging Deeper: Religious Diversity and the 10 Bias Danger Signs,” participants will explore the ways in which ignorance or bias show up and practice importance communication and listening skills. His session will address the avoidance and diffusion of conflict within the workplace, but will also explore the ways in which religious diversity can be leveraged to support overall business goals.

Religion is a hot-topic this year at the Multicultural Forum. Take a look at Laurie Trousil’s blog post and read about the different ways faith-based employee networks can be approached within an organization. And don’t miss out on “Faith-Based ERGs: Motivation, Management and Metrics,” where Laurie Trousil will be featured on a panel to discuss spirituality in the workplace, and how Best Buy, Ameriprise Financial, and Medtronic have embraced religion to create and sanction faith-based ERGs.

Annie Levers
Program Associate, Workplace