The December Dilemma – An Opportunity for Inclusion!

Dear Friends,

The winter holiday season often raises questions about workplace inclusivity and accommodation. Perhaps your office is considering which holidays to address, which holiday decorations are appropriate to use, or how to create a holiday or Christmas party that is inclusive to all. Whatever the case may be for you and your company, there’s an opportunity to practice inclusion by addressing the December Dilemma head on!

Our December Dilemma Fact Sheet will help you address your questions about time off and scheduling, decorations and holiday greetings.

There are plenty of opportunities for education and celebration, beginning with Diwali, Hanukkah and Christmas (both on the Julian and Gregorian calendars), Kwanzaa, and then the Lunar New Year in February 2019!

Warm regards,

Mark Fowler
Deputy CEO, Tanenbaum

A Fall Festival of Lights

Dear Friends,

Did you know that Diwali, known as the Festival of Lights, will take place on November 7th? Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists around the world celebrate this New Year festival for a variety of different reasons.
 
Diwali is an official holiday in a number of countries in South Asia and across the globe, so your offices in those locations may be closed or have shorter work days. Check out our Diwali Fact Sheet to learn more about the festival and potential implication for your workplace.
 
In friendship,
 
Deputy CEO,
Mark Fowler
 

Photos L to R: Khorkarahman, Wikimedia Commons; Srijan Kundu, Flickr; Mitacmaitra, Pixabay

A Sweet New Year!

Dear Friends,

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, will take place this year September 9th–11th and September 18th–19th, respectively. Together, these are known as the High Holy Days and are often regarded as the most important of all Jewish holidays.

Employees observing these holidays may require time off to attend services and celebrate with family and friends. And holidays are amazing opportunities to learn about traditions with which we may not be familiar. Learn more about both holidays in Tanenbaum’s Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Fact Sheet. Shana tova!

In friendship,

Mark Fowler
Deputy CEO, Tanenbaum


Photo: Apples and Honey, Elanas Pantry

Eid Mubarak!

Dear Friends,

The Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha will be celebrated between August 20th and August 21st this year! Eid-al-Adha, also known as the Feast of the Sacrifice, is an important holiday and those observing may wish to take the day off from work to celebrate with family and friends and attend to religious practices like attending mosque.

To learn more about Eid al-Adha and its potential impact on the workplace, read our Eid al-Adha Fact Sheet!

In friendship,

Mark Fowler
Deputy CEO, Tanenbaum


Image credit: Seika via Flickr

Pioneer Day is Coming Soon!

Dear Friends,

Did you know that July 24th is Pioneer Day? Pioneer Day is one of the major holidays of Mormonism (Latter-day Saints).

The holiday is often observed with parades, fireworks and Old West reenactments to commemorate the arrival of Brigham Young and his followers in Salt Lake Valley. To learn more about the history and significance of Pioneer Day, as well as how the holiday may impact the workplace, read our Pioneer Day Fact Sheet.

In friendship,

Mark Fowler
Deputy CEO, Tanenbaum


Image credit: Edgar Zuniga, Jr. via Flickr

Masterpiece Cakeshop – The Five Key Takeaways

Friends,

I don’t know if you’ve been following the Masterpiece Cakeshop lawsuit or the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in that matter yesterday—but we have. It’s the case of a religious man, a baker, who refused to bake a custom wedding cake for a gay couple.

At Tanenbaum, we see this case as raising core questions of our national identity. We actually filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court because this case challenges us to answer:

  • How can we live respectfully and honor our differences as a religiously diverse country?
  • What do we do, when core principles that guide us—like the right to freely practice our faith and the right to live and go into stores without suffering discrimination—clash?
  • Where do we draw the line between a religious baker who objects to baking a cake based on his deeply held beliefs, and a gay couple protected by their state’s anti-discrimination laws when they want to purchase goods for their wedding?

In the decision, a majority of the Court agreed that the case presented difficult questions. Rather than answer those difficult questions, however, the Court focused on the conduct of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which it described as “inconsistent with the State’s obligation of religious neutrality.” In fact, the Supreme Court held that their deliberations reflected “religious hostility” and were neither “tolerant nor respectful of” the baker’s religious beliefs.

By ruling that the underlying procedures were unfair and declining to reach the difficult questions, the Court put these foundational questions off for another day. But that is only one of The Five Key Takeaways from Masterpiece Cakeshop.

1. “IT’s not over”… The court’s ruling was narrow… the question of how to implement religious freedom when it results in not complying with anti-discrimination laws is yet to be determined.

2. YES! Those who implement the law must be neutral and practice respect (including respect for religion and diverse religious beliefs)! The principle behind the court’s narrow decision is spot on. Those who implement our laws must do so in an even-handed, neutral way and that means…they cannot demean / evidence bias against / or ridicule religious beliefs (or non-religious beliefs) with which they disagree during a legal proceeding. And that principle applies both to regulatory commissioners and judges in our courts, whether they are secular or deeply religious.

3. The Court says the LGBTQI community deserves dignity…but members of that community still have to ask, “What happens when I get married?” Though the Masterpiece Court spoke of the critical need to respect LGBTQI people in the public square, there is now an aura of uncertainty for the gay community. Yes, they can legally marry. But they still have to ask: “Will I be able to purchase the wedding cake, flowers, or hire the best photographer in town?” AND, “Will I be able to adopt a child?”

4. The U.S. Supreme Court mandates tolerance in the application of the law, religious freedom, and in our treatment of the gay community—but what do we really mean by tolerance? The Court tells us what it doesn’t look like. But what does it look like? And how do we put it into practice?

5. The Supreme Court has a critical role to play in how our country moves forward. Objections to providing services based on religious beliefs can have long-term implications for religious freedom—and whether it survives for all of us. Freedom of religion is preserved in the First Amendment. To put it into practice, however, we rely on anti-discrimination laws that require people to provide goods and services no matter someone’s religion. Those same anti-discrimination laws also protect people against racial bias, age discrimination, bias based on ability status, and in some states, bigotry based on sexual orientation. If the religious beliefs of someone choosing to serve the public are legally able to undo these laws when it comes to a person’s sexual orientation, why can’t those same religious beliefs allow for discrimination based on a customer’s religious or non-religious beliefs? Why couldn’t a baker refuse to bake a cake for an interfaith couple, because one of them was Jewish and her Christian partner might be led astray? Or because the couple were atheists? Muslims? Sikhs?

So where does the ruling leave us, as a country? That, my friends, is up to us.

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO, Tanenbaum

 


Photo credit: AP

Religious Diversity Leadership Summit: Raising the Bar

This year’s third annual Religious Diversity Leadership Summit was the largest one yet, with attendance near capacity and a waitlist in hand. Tanenbaum’s first full day Summit boasts 155 attendees and 23 speakers plus moderators from 64 companies, spanning 18 industries. The day included four concurrent breakout sessions addressing focused topics, another first for the Summit. Hosted by Bloomberg, the Summit was sponsored by Bloomberg, DTCC, and the Walt Disney Company.

Speakers shared personal stories to highlight pragmatic approaches to handling religious diversity in the workplace, showing attendees that this topic is not just about professional policies, it’s also about the people. Amin Kassam, keynote speaker and Chief of Staff and Senior Counsel at Bloomberg, eloquently spoke of his trepidation of coming out of two closets, as gay and as Muslim, during his professional life and highlighted some of his challenges. He courageously discussed the intersectionality of his religious and sexual identities in a way that was moving and inspiring.

Panelists and moderators in the programs that followed repeatedly came back to the importance of “bringing ones’ whole self to work” and the positive impact, as well as sometimes challenges, this can have for everyone. This was addressed in the context of varying positions of power in a company, the impact of generational norms, and the influence of different company cultures (corporate, non-profit, government, etc.).

In response to the Summit, attendees shared the following reactions and takeaways from the day:

  • “I have attended the previous conference[s]. They just keep getting better.”
  • “I appreciated ‘respectful curiosity. As a baby boomer, I was taught never to ask questions about why people are different. However, I always found [that] by asking respectful questions, you get to learn the culture and practices of others.”
  • As organizations, we celebrate what we value. [Also,] don’t be paralyzed by potential backlash. Instead, be prepared to ask people what they want/need when they raise concerns and say ‘What about me?’
  • “The Senior Leadership Panel described strong actions implemented at their company that describes the financial [return on investment] from diversity and inclusion. Using the Learning Lab assignment with Senior Management will generate dialogue and ultimately result in exercise to implement with staff.”

Pragmatic approaches were presented together with presenters’ stories, which provided an element of transparency that many attendees were pleasantly surprised to experience. From Mr. Kassam’s speech to the six different panels to Deputy CEO Mark Fowler’s Learning Lab, the Summit provided attendees with personal insight and practical knowledge of how to handle religion in the workplace. The overarching message of the day as one attendee so powerfully articulated was that diversity of religion is a fact, but inclusion of religion is a choice.”

Happy Vesak Day!

Dear Friends,

Vesak Day, also known as Buddha Day, is observed by Buddhists around the world. Although the exact date of observance varies from county to country, many people will be observing the day this year on May 29th.

For more information about Vesak Day, including the holiday’s history as well as scheduling tips, please explore our Vesak Day Fact Sheet. Please note that offices in many Southeast Asian counties may close in observance of the holiday.

Warm regards,

Mark Fowler
Deputy CEO


Photo: WikiMedia Commons

Ramadan begins May 15th – What you need to know!

Dear Friends,

The holy month of Ramadan is approaching! This year, Ramadan will begin on the evening of May 15th and will come to a close on June 14th.

Muslim employees observing Ramadan may be fasting during this period. Some may request scheduling accommodations and your company may find that more employees require space for prayer during this time.

To learn about other tips and considerations regarding scheduling, dietary restrictions, and greetings, read and circulate our Ramadan Fact Sheet.

Warm regards,

Mark Fowler
Deputy CEO, Tanenbaum


Photo: Forte George G Meade via Flickr

Today is Tanenbaum’s #givebackwednesday!

Download and share our tips for Respectful Communication

Dear Friends,

Yesterday was #givingtuesday. And I’m sure you were bombarded with worthy causes asking for your support. To those of you who gave to make the world a better place—in whatever way you chose to do so—we say thanks.

In honor of what we call #givebackwednesday, I want to share our tips for Respectful Communication. At a time when people are talking about (and worried about) conversations at upcoming holiday dinners, great communication is one of the best gifts you can share—with family, neighbors and colleagues.

Thank you, again, for all you do.

Cheers,

Joyce

P.S. And if you haven’t already, please consider making a donation to Tanenbaum.