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Friends –

Only a few years ago, news organizations served as gatekeepers for information—choosing what content to amplify and what to omit. Today, things are different and far more complicated. New tools amplify previously unheard voices, and roughly 100 million pieces of information are uploaded onto the internet daily. Some of that information is important, factual, interesting, and reflects critical thinking and opinions. But some is “fake news.”

How to respond to “fake news” is a hot topic, even though there’s no universally agreed upon definition for the phenomenon. And we’d like to hear what you think about it.

Please tell us by spending a few minutes taking Tanenbaum’s Combating Extremism campaign’s short fake news survey!

Survey Event: The approaching tsunami of diversity

Yesterday, Tanenbaum hosted an event and panel discussion that was (arguably) the most exciting in human resources history.

The event’s focus was our recent survey, What American Workers Really Think About Religion, and included an in-depth data breakdown, a rousing keynote address, and some exceptional insights from our panelists.

Some of the noteworthy thoughts and quotes from the event:

  • When God is the spirit that drives hate, we never arrive at a good destination.
  • In the very near future, if not already, faith will be the greatest people-related challenge in the world.
  • When building a company for success, you must build a quality team that delivers a quality product to the market. Faith cannot be a divisive factor in that.
  • Businesses need to recognize the business case for proactively addressing religious diversity.
  • People are too worried about opening Pandora’s Box. This worry is fear-driven and destructive.
  • This element of diversity (religion) will overwhelm us. It is the tsunami of the inclusion movement.

And at the closing, Joyce Dubensky, Tanenbaum’s CEO, offered solutions for companies to deal with religious diversity at work:

First, create proactive policies for dealing with religion in the workplace. Then, communicate those policies clearly. In order for the policies to be effective, they must be enforced uniformly and consistently. Finally, ensure that there is a clear process for registering religion-related complaints and that each complaint receives a response.

The survey is available as a free download and, if you have any workplace specific questions, our team can be reached at


Religious diversity is increasing at the office, and so are pitfalls: Top 5 News Stories

Religious diversity is increasing at the office, and so are pitfalls

As religious diversity in the workplace increases, the opportunities for conflicts over religions also rises. In fact, one-third of American workers report that they have seen or experienced religious bias in the workplace. From Atheists to Evangelicals, discrimination based on beliefs or non-beliefs is a significant issue for employers and employees alike.

March on Washington showcased religious roots of Civil Rights …    

Modern advocates for civil rights often forget that the Civil Rights movement was largely grounded in religious roots. Religious leaders used their pulpits and their religions as sources for justice and racial equality. "It was natural for blacks to turn to the church in the civil rights movement as it was always this solid rock amid oppression," Aldon Morris, a sociologist at Northwestern University said. "You could summon up a great deal of courage through religion. It could empower people to confront all kinds of obstacles, including violence."

Labor Day and the unions' forgotten religious roots    

Labor Day orignated as the brain-child of the Noble Order of the Knights of Labor. The first labor unions joined forces with religious insitutions to defend the poor and provide legitimacy to the movement. But as religiosity is on the decline, the future of Labor Day hangs in the balance.

Atheist group can sue IRS over enforcement of pulpit politicking

A federal judged granted the atheist group Freedom from Religion Foundation permission to proceed with its lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service. The group is suing the IRS for not enforcing its ban on the political activity of tax-exempt religious organizations. The FFRF wants the IRS to strengthen the ban.

Haynes column: School surrenders to religious intolerance    

A school put up a bullitein board about the five pillars of Islam as part of a curriculum that educates students about different faiths within their historical context. A picture of the board uploaded to facebook sparked community outrage as the misleading tag accused the board of promoting Islam while Christian prayers were strictly forbidden. Though this was not the purpose of the bullitein board, and other bullitein boards featuring different religions are placed around the school, the administration decided to take down the board on Islam. 

Survey Results: A landslide vote in support of atheist seeking citizenship

Thank you to everyone who participated in our recent survey!

In a blog post last week, we asked you to weigh in on a particularly interesting news item. We asked if Margaret Doughty should be denied citizenship because she is an atheist and a resounding majority of you (98%) said “no.” Nearly all the respondents believed that her personal religiosity should not play a factor in her citizenship eligibility.  

According to the comments, it seemed the principal reason respondents disagreed was their belief in the fundamental right to freedom of religion, as guaranteed by the First Amendment.

The other major reason was the apparent conflation of morality and religion. When Margaret Doughty conscientiously objected to the pledge to bear arms in defense of the nation, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services called for evidence of her religious affiliation in a misguided attempt to establish her ethical baseline.

Judging by the fact that 98% of you replied that Doughty should not be denied, we believe it’s safe to say that there is wide support for the USCIS’ reversal (Doughty was granted citizenship days later). Your elaborations on the topic were fantastic.

Here’s a selection of what you had to say to “Why Doughty should or shouldn’t be denied citizenship?”

  • One can be a good citizen and not believe in God. The government should not be in a position to dictate that a person belong to a prescribed religion.
  • A person's faith or lack of same in no way reflects their ability to be a "good" citizen. To further complicate this matter, however, the initial denial of her citizenship seems to have been based primarily on her conscientious objection to bear arms or contribute to warfare in any way. My understanding is that conscientious objectors have always been required to confirm that such beliefs stem from their religion – as if one can't object to the insanity of war without church doctrine having instructed one to do so. I find this specific point reprehensible as well as the overall principal behind the original decision to deny citizenship.
  • Because ethics and morality are not necessarily connected to a belief in God.
  • Because America offers people the freedom of choosing their religion — or not.
  • Religious preferences have no relevance in the decision. We have freedom OF religion which also encompasses freedom FROM religion. It is personal conscience which is protected under our constitution. PERIOD. Their initial response is unconstitutional.
  • Religious faith is a personal, not social or national, choice.
  • Both the first amendment clauses prohibiting the establishment of religion and protecting the free exercise of religion seem to be directly opposed to this position. So, too, does the clause in Article VI of the Constitution that bars any religious qualification … For the U.S. government to take this stance in a case so obviously absurd–hypothetical compulsory military service by a 64 year old– is deeply troubling.

Again, thank you all of your responses. And, although we only printed a small sample of the comments, we are using every response to inform our work. We look forward to hearing from you in our next survey. 

If you have a suggestion for a survey topic or question, we’d love to hear it! Please comment below or send the questions our way!


Survey: Is there religious discrimination at your work?

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

Survey Results: Did religion play a part in the 2012 election?

Thanks to all who took the time to complete our first online survey!

Nearly 70% of you said that religion played a role in the election, yet almost 90% stated that the candidates’ faiths did not influence your voting decision. But while the candidates’ religion did not have substantial sway among respondents, what they had to say on the topic did have an impact. Sixty-six percent of you reported that what the candidates said about religion influenced your voting decision.

What was perhaps most interesting is what you had to say to us in the final question of the survey, where we asked if you’d like to elaborate. We received great responses. Here’s a sampling:

  • I would consider voting for a candidate of any faith group if I believed that s/he shared and would officially uphold values I believe in. I would, however, choose against any candidate, even one who shared my faith, if s/he expressed exclusive and religiously xenophobic views.
  • Religion is important; however, more important is the aspect of freedom of religion. No one has the right to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, lest they forget what our country is all about.
  • Obama's disdain for "those that value their guns and religion" surely had some effect.
  • It was not what was said specifically about religion that influenced my choice. It was other topics that are influenced by religion that influenced me.
  • I think religion became a secondary issue to political ideology.
  • Religion has no place in government. It is an intimate relationship between an individual and his/or her god(s).
  • I was deeply offended by the Republican attempts to suggest that Mr. Obama was Muslim, as if that would be a negative!
  • I'm a Roman Catholic & some of our bishops tried to make religious freedom & health care – i.e., contraceptives – an issue, but their arguments did not resonate with the faithful.
  • Separation of "church" and state is very important to me. When a political party wants to mandate things that fall into the religious realm, I'm alarmed.

In addition to our survey, the Pew Forum recently released a preliminary analysis of how the faithful voted.  We also found interesting stories about religion and the presidential election, including a Huffington Post story about both candidates’ appeal to religious voters during the final days of the campaign and a CNN story that raised questions about the Christian right’s influence on the electorate.

Again, thank you all of your responses.  And, although we only printed a small sample of the comments, we are using every response to inform our work. We look forward to hearing from you in our next survey. 

If you have a suggestion for a survey topic or question, we’d love to hear it!  Please send your ideas our way.

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