CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters, Senator Gordon H. Smith, gave the keynote at the Washington DC Jan. 12th launch of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s Corporate Pledge (photos by Maria Byrk/Newseum Institute).
- — For a news summary of the event, see article by Nate Madden.
- — See the global history of the corporate pledge.
The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation co-hosted this event with the Newseum Institute’s Religious Freedom Center and the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding in anticipation of the President’s annual declaration of January 16th as Religious Freedom Day, calling upon Americans to observe this day through appropriate events and activities.
High level panelists* discussed how businesses can successfully negotiate religious freedom and workplace issues. In an era when millennials are especially concerned for fairness and equality for all, respecting the religion and beliefs of employees is not only fair and good policy, but is also good for business.
At the event, CEOs, representatives of major companies, heads of trade and commerce organizations, and the media were introduced to a nonpartisan corporate pledge on religious nondiscrimination and inclusion in the workplace. This new resource and its associated resource documents will align with core American values of religious freedom while creating a more inclusive work environment that leverages religious diversity.
*Other speakers included Joyce S. Dubensky, Esq., CEO, Tanenbaum; Richard T. Foltin, Director, National and Legislative Affairs in American Jewish Committee’s Office of Government and International Affairs; Charles C. Haynes, Vice President Newseum Institute / Religious Freedom Center and a senior scholar at the First Amendment Center; Dwayne Leslie, Associate Director in the Department of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty and Director of Legislative Affairs for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists; Daniel Mach, Director, ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief; and Zainab Al-Suwaij,Executive Director and a co-founder of the American Islamic Congress (AIC).
Corporate Pledge: Four Guiding Principles
For rationale and more corporate documents, see http://religiousfreedomandbusiness.org/corporate-documents
Email complete corporate pledge to RFBF president: firstname.lastname@example.org
(1) Promoting Sustainable and Innovative Business Through Protecting Freedom of Religion or Belief
[COMPANY] affirms that freedom of religion or belief (“FoRB”) is a fundamental right.* [COMPANY] also recognizes that religious freedom promotes sustainable and innovative businesses, contributes to human flourishing, and results in peaceful and stable societies. For these reasons, and with a vision of a future of innovative and sustainable economies where FoRB and diversity are respected, [COMPANY] strives to be a leader in promoting and protecting FoRB in its workplace and communities. [COMPANY] will not tolerate abuses of religious freedom within its sphere of influence.
(2) Non-Discrimination and Non-Harassment on the Basis of Religion or Belief
[COMPANY] respects each individual’s rights to freedom of religion or belief, provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion or belief. This prohibition on religious discrimination applies to all aspects of employment including, without limitation, recruitment, interviewing, hiring, training, job assignments, promotions, demotions, compensation, benefits, transfers, terminations. [COMPANY] will take appropriate action upon receiving a report consistent with its general non-harassment and non-discrimination policy.
(3) Religious Accommodation and Inclusion
[COMPANY] promotes a religiously inclusive environment where each employee’s beliefs are recognized and respected, but where religion or belief is not a matter of force or coercion. Consistent with this policy, an employee may seek, and [COMPANY] will provide, a reasonable religious accommodation that does not create an undue hardship on [COMPANY]’s business if his or her religious beliefs, observances, practices, or requirements conflict with his or her job, work schedule, [COMPANY]’s policy or practice on dress and appearance, or with other aspects of employment.
(4) Protecting and Promoting Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) in Our Communities
[COMPANY] strives to be a leader in promoting and protecting freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) among its stakeholders and in the broader community. [COMPANY] gives priority to business partners, suppliers, and contractors who share [COMPANY]’s values, including FoRB. [COMPANY] supports their efforts to promote these values through their business activities. Among other practices that are consistent with this policy, [COMPANY] will strive to support local, national and global initiatives that promote FoRB, and may refrain from doing business with or investing in companies and governments that restrict FoRB.
[SIGNATURE & COMPANY DETAILS]
Version 1.5, December 18, 2015
* Freedom of Religion or Belief – FoRB – is an internationally recognized human right protecting people’s right to practice, change or have no religion (see Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights).