Working for workplace religious diversity, equity & inclusion


Monthly Archives: September 2017

World Economic Forum – Eradicating Human Trafficking

30 Sep, 2017

Keeping the Promise of Eradicating Human Trafficking

  • Monday 18 September
  • 10:30 – 12:00 World Economic Forum Office New York
  • Moderator: Brian Grim, President, Religious Freedom & Business Foundation
  • Opening Remarks: Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, President, Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies

Every year, thousands of people around the world are victims of human trafficking. Women and children are particularly affected, representing 70% of those whose most basic human rights are violated through this modern form of slavery.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Goals 5, 8 and 16) demands that “immediate and effective” measures be taken to eradicate human trafficking, forced labour and modern slavery. Religious leaders and institutions have engaged in a global, coordinated effort to reach such goals, aiming to restore freedom and a hopeful future for all those enslaved and trafficked.

How can the vital work of faith communities be leveraged, and innovation and technology contribute, to achieving the human and moral imperative of eradicating the trafficking in human beings?

Dimensions addressed: Creating space and building trust for collaboration; Improving efficiency of supportive social efforts; and Leveraging technology and the media in the fight against human trafficking.

Overview by Brian Grim

Religious dynamics themselves – including how free religious groups are to engage in the public life of a society – offer promising possibilities for eradicating human trafficking. For example, a study we conducted at the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation finds that governments with low respect for religious freedom are more than twice as likely to be complicit in human trafficking as governments with high respect for religious freedom.

There are at least two reasons that governments that respect religious freedom are less likely to turn a blind eye to human trafficking. First, religious freedom is part of a bundled commodity of human rights and freedoms, such as freedom of speech, press, assembly, conscience and petition.

Second, governments that respect religious freedom reap the great practical benefit of religious freedom, that is, religious freedom sets people and communities of faith free to do good. Where this freedom is restricted, this force for good is stifled and civil society is much weaker and less resourceful and resilient as a result.

Let me describe how this second factor – setting faith communities free to do good – works using the example of Bakhita House, a Catholic ministry in London providing women escaping human trafficking with the safety and support to allow them to begin the recovery process.

Bakhita House is named after St. Josephine Bakhita, born around 1869 in the Darfur region of Sudan. She was sold into slavery but after a tortuous and lengthy journey found freedom in Italy, eventually taking religious vows as a sister with the Canossian Daughters of Charity. Her life continues to inspire Catholics to get involved with eradicating modern slavery.

Bakhita House offers women a range of services including emergency support, psychosexual therapy, legal and financial assistance, mentoring, and help with accessing accommodation. Guests of Caritas Bakhita House benefit from their values and principles of action:

  • 1. Love – expressed in compassionate support and long term commitment
  • 2. Respect – for the gift and dignity of each individual
  • 3. Community – a welcome which creates friendship and belonging, including allowing women to stay twice as long in the house as women can in government schemes
  • 4. Spirituality – nurtured by that Joy in creative activity which lifts the spirit

It’s important to understand that these values and principles come from a world view that begins with the proposition that all people – no matter how common or exceptional or how saintly or evil – are created in the image of God. This world view is also one that demands not just love of God and neighbor, but also love of enemy. Thus, when religious communities look for solutions to problems like slavery and human trafficking, they have a wider view. To demonstrate this, a prayer for the end of human trafficking promoted by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has a rather surprising petition. In addition to praying “that those who are trafficked might know healing and justice,” the prayer petitions “that traffickers will come to repentance and conversion.”

I might even be so bold as to suggest that this petition represents an insight, a dot, so to speak, that needs to be better connected to the whole. Might a focus on better understanding what leads traffickers to abuse and enslave others lead to new strategies not only to rescue those enslaved, but also convert traffickers from their wicked ways by repenting of the evil they do? At the very least, the religious sentiments point out that the task is not just to rescue those enslaved, but also the audacious idea of helping the thief on the cross also repent and be saved.

This admittedly Catholic way of looking at the problem, however, is one that engages multiple actors and not just the victims. In particular, the Bakhita House is part of a multi-pronged strategy that has not only the typical multi-stakeholders, but also some unique partners, including the police who are a technology partner for the House: not for eavesdropping, but for interviewing facilities that can be used by law enforcement in the relaxed atmosphere of the House to investigate the crimes and apprehend perpetrators where possible.

Additionally, the Centre for the Study of Modern Slavery (CSMS) at St Mary’s (Catholic) University is engaged with Bakhita House in independent research to provide evidence that informs policy responses to modern slavery and human trafficking both in the UK and internationally. Indeed, government responses continue to be hampered by key knowledge gaps.

Bakhita House also partners with Penningtons Manches LLP, a leading UK law firm. The firm supports Bakhita House with charitable donations and allows their staff to undertake pro bono work on behalf of Bakhita House and the women the House serves.

Bakhita House also attracts dozens of community volunteers to help with everything from facilities upkeep to building friendships with the guests.

And finally, for the long term, the Bakhita House initiative recognizes that the problem will only be solved through education and public awareness – impacting children, employers, consumers, hiring practices, etc. Therefore, their ongoing campaigns and programmes are being designed with social media, events, and advocacy efforts direct to decision-makers.

Bakhita House is an example of multi-stakeholder action. From my brief description of Bakhita House, think of the following three questions which will guide all our conversations this morning:

  1. 1. How is the initiative unlocking additional resources, innovation or increasing scale through a multi-stakeholder approach?
  2. 2. What other actors (civil society, governments, business, investors, experts) must be engaged to further boost impact and take the initiatives to the next level?
  3. 3. As you look across the issue of human trafficking, what dots need to be better connected among the various players? Is there a game changer missing?

Keep these three questions in mind as you listen to opening remarks by Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah, President, Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies. Shaykh bin Bayyah is assisted with translation by Shaykh Hamsa Yusuf, President, Zaytuna College.

Following Shaykh bin Bayyah we’ll have the opportunity to hear briefly from four distinguish panelists, after which we’ll break into discussion groups and finish by coming back together to give input on main ideas for advancing work on eradicating human trafficking. Our four panelists are:

  • — Agnes R. M. ABUOM is the Moderator-President of the World Council of Churches Central Committee. She also represents the Anglican Church of Kenya.
  • — Jeanne Bourgault, President, Internews, responsible for overall strategic management of the organization and its programmes in 49 countries around the world.
  • — Rob Leslie, CEO and founder of Sedicii, which allows the secure authentication of individuals, using a novel technology called zero knowledge proof, where identity can be proven without exposing or sharing private data.
  • — Robert Wilson-Black, Chief Executive Officer, Sojourners, with many years experience in higher education as well as in developing next-generation socially responsible investing.

Join us in Washington DC 5th Oct: The Business Case for Religious Freedom

30 Sep, 2017

This year, the JRCLS Religious Liberty Day will feature two new religious liberty panel discussions starting at 4:00 p.m. and ending at 6:30 p.m. at the Mayflower Hotel on 5th Oct.

The first panel at 4:00 p.m. will address the economic impact of religious liberty, as well as diversity training for business leaders interested in promoting religious diversity in the workplace. This panel will feature Brian Grim, Nathan Walker, Debbie Marriott Harris, and Paul Lambert.

The second panel at 5:20 p.m. will address promoting religious liberty within your personal sphere of influence, and provide updates on religious liberty legislative initiatives. This panel will feature Tim Schultz, Montse Alvarado, Elder Keetch, and Thomas F. Farr. These panels will be open to the public and free of charge. See more details and bios below.

7pm Awards dinner for Baroness Elizabeth Berridge requires registration.

Economy Panel (Intro by Brian Grim)

One year ago, my daughter and I published a groundbreaking study on the $1.2 trillion U.S. religion economy that not only has been made into an award-winning short film but was also covered by scores of news outlets including the Washington Post, Fox Business News, NPR, BBC, Business Daily, etc.

Some of the coverage went viral. The UK Guardian’s story on the research, for example, was re-shared 18,833 times. By comparison, its headline story on Nov. 9 2016 announcing that “Donald Trump wins presidential election” was shared just 17,126 times. So it’s fair to say that the Guardian’s readers found the US election results surprising and perhaps even shocking. But by these metrics, they found the news that religion contributes to the economy even more shocking.

At the same time, Andrew Soergel, the Economy Reporter for U.S. News & World Report, noted that this religious economic boost to the U.S. economy may be in danger. His article’s title summarizes his fear: “Could Religion’s Decline Spell Damnation for the U.S. Economy? As America loses its faith, the domestic economy could pay the price.”

One of the additional knock-on effects of a less religiously active population is that support for religious freedom is less robust. And this is also an economic weight because another study that colleagues from BYU and I published found that religious freedom is one of only a handful of factors that is independently connected to economic growth. The study also found that the vast majority of pillar of global competitiveness – as measured by the World Economic Forum – are stronger in in countries with high respect for religious freedom.

In addition to those two studies, I’ll mention two more studies to help kick off our discussion. A 2013 national survey found that 36% of American workers have experienced or witnessed workplace religious discrimination. That sounds like a bigger problem than people recognize.

And indeed it is, as I found in a recent analysis of U.S. data. Religious discrimination cases in the workplace have more than doubled over the past two decades. In 2016, there were 3,825 religion-based charges filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) compared less than half that number (1,709 ) in 1997. By way of comparison, charges of LGBT-based discrimination, which have also been on the rise, numbered 1,768 in 2016, fewer than half the number of religious discrimination complaints. While the corporate world has paid significant attention to LGBT issues with most corporations rolling out major plans to address discrimination based on sexual orientation, there are very few corporations – if any – paying equal attention to discrimination based on employee’s religion or belief.

COMMON-SENSE BUSINESS: Principles for Profitable Leadership

29 Sep, 2017


By Theodore Roosevelt Malloch and Whitney MacMillan

Common sense and prudence have long been among the guiding tenets of society, but in today’s economy they have been completely abandoned in the interest of blindly maximizing profits. Common- Sense Business shows that this current economic model is both detrimental and unsustainable, and that we must transform the global economy along the lines of common sense toward the common good. Ted Malloch, a thought leader and policy influencer in global economic strategy, and Whitney MacMillan, the former chairman and CEO of the world’s largest private corporation, draw on recent research, history’s greatest minds, and their own successes to explain that ethically driven business is both a moral and financial necessity.

Inspired by Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, this work explains to readers in all walks of life that ethically driven business will lead to better long-term profits, larger customer bases and more positive customer relations, and a holistically improved business. This book is a must-read for business owners, entrepreneurs, students, and businessmen and women in all sectors of the economy.

Advance Praise for Common-Sense Business

“This spectacularly insightful book identifies how the recklessness of imprudence has led us to the brink of disaster—and how to fix it. Every responsible executive needs prudence practiced as common sense.”

Dr. Paul J. Zak, president, Ofactor

“Has the potential to transform how all companies are run. Nothing could be more valuable!”

Mark Drewell, CEO, Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative (GRLI)

“A magnum opus written in simple words and built on real-life cases, reminding every modern person what a cardinal virtue they have easily forgotten while searching in vain for ‘solutions.’”

Fanglu Wang, chairman, CITIC Capital (China)

“This book provides a compelling case for placing the critical virtue of prudence at the center of the global economy.”

Peter S. Heslam, director, Transforming Business, University of Cambridge

“Every business person, in fact, every person, needs to consider the purpose and significance of their life and enterprise. Common-Sense Business offers such a compass.”

James Amos, former CEO of Mail Boxes, Etc.

“Thus far we have seen value only in smart organizations. This book shifts the paradigm by moving the focus from smart to wise. We all need to seriously relearn from this book.”

Jitin Goyal, president, Banking and Financial Services, Virtusa Polaris

“When we seem to be educating young MBAs to shoot faster than their shadow, this book makes a very compelling case to educate them to be courageous leaders, who are conscious of their decisions and that these decisions affect other people and our environment.”

Juan Pablo, Cerda CEO, TECO (Chile)

From two of the world’s most successful business leaders comes Common-Sense Business: Principles for Profitable Leadership (Skyhorse Publishing hardcover; October 17, 2017; $26.99)— an accessible, actionable guide to better leadership, increased profits, and a more sustainable economic model predicated on prudence and socially conscious business.

About the Authors:

Theodore Roosevelt Malloch is chairman and CEO of Global Fiduciary Governance LLC, a leading strategy thought leadership company. Malloch conceptualizes and executes some of today’s most dynamic international projects. He was president of the World Economic Development Congress sponsored by CNN, where Lady Margaret Thatcher dubbed him a “global sherpa.”

Whitney MacMillan is the former chairman and CEO of Cargill Corporation, the largest privately-held firm in the United States in terms of revenue.

Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.

307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor New York, NY 10018

(212) 643-6816

What are the Limits to Religious Expression in the Workplace?

22 Sep, 2017

A Sep 22, 2017 article by By Dana Wilkie published in the Society for Human Resource Management looks at this very issue. She asks “Can Religious Gatherings at Work Cross the Line?”

She writes: “An employee sends an e-mail to his entire department announcing that he’s going to start praying for the workplace each morning and inviting colleagues to join him in his office to pray to Jesus. He also asks co-workers to send him a list of personal concerns they’d like him to pray about.

“Should you allow this?

“The issue came up this week during a Society for Human Resource Management SHRM Connect online discussion.”


Brian Grim, president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, offers some basic principles to keep in mind:

Title VII in U.S. law gives people the right to have their religious beliefs and practices accommodated in the workplace, within reasonable limits. People have a right to express their faith in the workplace as long as they don’t harass others or lead people to mistake their private expressions of faith for the employer’s views.

For example, employees can talk to coworkers about their beliefs, hang a religious picture or keep personal religious items at their work stations, wear religious clothing or jewelry, have personal devotionals (like reading scriptures in the break room), or even start a voluntary prayer group, that is unless the company has job-related policies that apply the same to everyone (such as keeping desks clear of any personal items when customers can see them) and thus can’t give an accommodation. If the company lets others express their personalities, religious people can too. Certainly, if a coworker asks another person in the company not to talk with him or her about his/her faith, then they need to stop. Continuing could be harassment.

Regarding supervisors, they must be careful not to inadvertently pressure subordinates or make them think they’ll get special treatment or access if they adopt the supervisors beliefs or, in this case, participate in the prayer initiative.

If a company allows employees to use company email for other personal initiatives, like announcing a car wash, or a gay pride march or a spontaneous happy hour, they should allow other personal requests. To single out religion as the only taboo topic could get the company into legal hot water.

Of course, if the company has a general policy against any personal announcements, then those of a religious nature would not be permitted. Even if someone has been out of line in a religious announcement, the best course of action may be to help people understand what’s appropriate and inappropriate rather than forbidding the topic altogether, thereby making religious employees feel like all other personal identities are acceptable except theirs.

Companies can forbid private, non-work meetings and gatherings on work premises. However, if they allow some non-work meetings, then they would be liable of religious discrimination if the forbid only religion-related meetings. Nevertheless, any meeting that leads to or involves harassment or exclusion of others would not be accommodated. For instance, a women’s empowerment meeting shouldn’t forbid men to join. Likewise a prayer meeting should turn anyone away due to their beliefs (religious or otherwise).

Follow this link for more resources including a video, and this link for in-company training related to workplace inclusion and diversity. Also, company’s can demonstrate their commitment to these values by signing the Corporate Pledge on Freedom of Religion or Belief.