More and more companies encourage employees to be fully involved – including religion – at work



LEHI, Utah ( — Father Greg McBrayer has worked for American Airlines for nearly 45 years, most recently as chief director of flight control. But his job changed dramatically after 9/11, when he began to bring his faith to work with him.

“I was able to use that single event to bring my faith, which was quite compartmentalized at the time, into my work every day. And American Airlines saw the fruits and the value of that,” he said.

Father McBrayer, an Anglo-Catholic priest, said he probably would have retired by now had it not been for the joy he feels in advancing his faith in the workplace. He comes to work dressed as a priest and said his company recognizes the value that comes when someone can give their all at work.

He cited instructions from flight attendants before a plane takes off directing people to put on their own emergency masks first before helping others and said companies can take care of them first. themselves by including religion in the workplace. Father McBrayer encouraged businesses to make this change to include religion if they haven’t already.

On Friday, the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation hosted a conference on faith inclusion in the workplace at Utah Valley University’s Lehi campus. This is the first conference in Utah, and something the foundation plans to repeat in the state every year.

Employee Resource Groups

Brian Grim, founding president of the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation, said companies are embracing religion as part of their diversity and inclusion programs, including in employee resource groups.

“Faith and Belief Employee Resource Groups provide a platform for employees to support each other and give employees of faith a formal voice within the company to voice their concerns and ideas, including including commercial information. These give a company a competitive edge that increases employee morale – and therefore retention,” Grim said.

He said having these groups can help recruit people who have religion as their core identity, which then benefits business results. He said having a faith-based resource group for employees also enhances the degree of workplace inclusion for people in other categories.

Grim said when a company includes religion in its diversity commitments, it also opens the door for companies to be more vocal about human rights issues. Building a religious group in the workplace is practicing freedom of religion, he said.

Conference participants shared their experiences of developing religion-based employee resource groups in their workplaces, and their motivations for doing something to help people of all faiths feel accepted and free from practicing their religion in the workplace.

Adam Smith-Cairns said he was introduced to a religious group during his first week working at ServiceNow, a Silicon Valley-based software company for which he works remotely. He said the idea was not to talk about what they believe, but to talk about how they live their belief and how it affects their work. He said they were often brought to tears, including when an atheist spoke of a need to connect with people.

The charter developed by the group lists objectives to be celebrated, learned and respected.

Smith-Cairns said the group held a “Bring Your Faith to Work” week in August, during which an employee told them about a Hindu holiday. He said through the group he learned a lot about other religions.

Matt Evans, who is involved with the religion-based employee resource group at Salesforce, said he spent a day fasting during Ramadan, lit candles for Hanukah and celebrated Christmas and Diwali with colleagues in the group. .

He said the members focus a lot on education. After a mandatory business meeting landed on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in Judaism, they began sending information to officials about religious holidays each month, with advice on how to help employees celebrate and holiday-specific greetings.

When complex religious issues arise, their response is to listen and allow everyone to be heard.

Evans said he spoke to several people who said they joined Salesforce because of the faith-based equality group, and that they stay with the company because they appreciate being able to show their religion and be themselves at the work.

“It’s a beautiful thing to see how it affects employees, how it creates diversity in the workplace, and how it allows people to build relationships with people they wouldn’t normally build relationships with,” Evans said.

Utah Valley University

Utah Valley University President Astrid Tuminez said religion is an important pillar of the university’s diversity efforts.

She said The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ largest institute of religion is on the UVU campus, and thousands of students feel free to participate in their religion directly from the campus of this institution. There are many religious clubs at UVU and an interfaith student council is available for students of all faiths where people can explore religious ideas and discuss religious topics.

“It is important for the health of the students. This is important for student empowerment. This is an important freedom for students to explore, embrace and commit to the faith. And I think that’s a good thing to have at a university,” Tuminez said.

She titled her speech “Religion and its Freedoms” and explained how religion gives people the freedom to think and the freedom to be equal. She said religious freedom means more curiosity, listening and compassion.

“When I look at myself, the person I am today – how I lead, how I walk, how I talk, how I treat people – is an amalgamation of all these religious experiences in my life,” he said. she declared.

Throughout her career, she hasn’t worn her religion on her sleeve, but people around her still know it’s important to her.

“(Religion) gives me a way to navigate, it gives me the freedom to navigate,” she said.

She said it can take time and an emotional burden to only show one side of yourself at work. She said true inclusion allows people to come to work without the need to compartmentalize and allows people to thrive as themselves, without feeling the need to hide their religion.

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