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Supporting Workplace Religious Diversity & Freedom

The Corporate Pledge in Support of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) — which supports religious diversity and freedom in the workplace — sends two clear messages to current and prospective employees: (1) You can work here without changing who you are; and (2) the company respects all employees and will not favor certain employees over others … and that’s good for the business of all.

The FoRB Pledge is one component of a company’s overall strategy to value its employees and increase their loyalty for the benefit of customers and shareholders. The FoRB Pledge is a company’s public commitment to take reasonable steps to ensure that working at the company does not put employees at odds with their deeply held religious convictions.

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Email complete corporate pledge to RFBF president:

brian@religiousfreedomandbusiness.org

See Pledge and PowerPoint for Corporate Boards at page bottom.


Rationale

Freedom of Religion or Belief is an internationally recognized human right. Article 18 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

However, 36% of American workers report experiencing or witnessing workplace religious discrimination, according to a recent Tanenbaum survey, “What American Workers Really Think about Religion.”

The most successful businesses encourage an environment in which employees can bring their “full self” to work. Employees need to feel comfortable being who they are in the workplace, including being true to their core identity and beliefs. That includes recognizing and respecting an employee’s religion and its practice.

In today’s increasingly more competitive business environment, companies will need to draw upon the talent and experience of every employee. They can’t afford to leave anyone out. If they exclude or alienate someone for reasons having nothing to do with a person’s ability to do the job, they might also be excluding the next great business solution or the next great product idea. The very thing a company might need for its success. At the very least, they’ll be missing out on lots of really great talent.

And as companies become increasingly more global, they’ll need employees who reflect the increasing diversity of their customers. They’ll need employees who can relate to the daily experience of customers and who can see the customer point of view. For potentially billions of customers, religious belief and practice are a part of daily life. Having employees who understand that will not only help companies avoid costly missteps, it will also help companies develop products and services better tailed to customer needs. That’s an essential part of being competitive.


Launch of The FoRB Pledge

Sen. Gordon Smith - Business_&_Religious_Freedom_Event_1.12.2015_106Click here for press release on the the FoRB Pledge soft launch.

CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters, Senator Gordon H. Smith (pictured), gave the keynote at the Washington DC Jan. 12th launch of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s 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.

Other speakers included: Daniel Mach ACLU; Zainab Al-Suwaij, American Islamic Congress; Richard T. Foltin, American Jewish Committee; Joyce S. Dubensky, Tanenbaum; Charles C. Haynes, Newseum Institute; and Dwayne Leslie, Seventh-day Adventists.

More corporate documents are available here.

For a history of the FoRB Pledge’s genesis, click here.


The FoRB Pledge

(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). 


Supporting Resources:

You can download a non-logo “Company version” of the following PowerPoint for use in your own presentations. You can insert your own company logo in the top right of each slide.

The FoRB Pledge – Company version

The FoRB Pledge from Brian J. Grim