Working for workplace religious diversity, equity & inclusion


Monthly Archives: May 2020

Global Human Intelligence Forum

29 May, 2020

“We are at a global tipping point, a once-in-a-generation opportunity to move the world in a new direction.” — Brian Grim

With challenges as diverse as the global pandemic, a superpower trade war, and unresolved racial disparities, perspective is desperately needed.

Brian Grim is no stranger to world-changing events, perhaps channeling a bit of Forrest Gump, he walked through the Berlin Wall the day it fell; the Soviet Union was dissolved in his office building, and the next week the president of the new country of Kazakhstan asked him and his faith-based NGO to help set up the country’s first western style business school in what was, until then, the training academy for communist party cadres.

Since then Grim has become involved in helping companies, governments and leaders understand and embrace how religious freedom benefits business and the economy. This is important to know coming out of the global pandemic when all of us need to get back to work.

Brian Grim to Keynote Global Human Intelligence Forum

Friday, June 5, 3:10pm / NYC Time, Grim will keynote the virtual Forum streaming from Sydney, Australia. Tickets for the Forum can be purchased here.

LIVE – Online
June 03|04|05 /NYC 3-10pm /LA 12-7pm
(June 04|05|06 /Sydney 5am-12pm)

The Forum allows you to experience 3 days with a group of leaders, to go deep into four areas:

1 – Forward Conversations to remove any uncertainty, to make better decisions and the need to take advantage of opportunities to prepare for the future.

2 – New Insights to stretch outside the norm into the power of resilience, learning through human intelligence and from those who have walked the pathway ahead of you.

3 – Proven Solutions to make quick turnarounds to extend your capacity to scale and therefore to master the long term results.

4 – Culture Shifts to engage in the willingness to shift mindsets, to reach the next level of peak performance, impact and the freedom to succeed.

This is an opportunity to hear from keynote speakers who are global leaders in their industry.
To learn what has worked, won’t work going forward and evolving solutions at the decision table.

The Speakers

Be Fearlessly Authentic

25 May, 2020

“Open and honest discussion of core beliefs helps maintain a flourishing culture.” — Kent Johnson (video)

Speaking at the weekly COVIDxNOW meeting of business leaders, Kent Johnson, Senior Corporate Advisor for the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, powerfully outlines the important role that faith and religious freedom have in addressing the spiritual, emotional and economic impact of Covid-19 (watch).

COVIDxNOW Global Economic Leaders Consortium is aimed at unlocking all possible solutions to the impacts of COVID-19 and in the process creating hope, opportunity and job creation across the globe. COVIDxNOW is galvanizing global leaders from all sectors to generate “fast response solutions” to address social, health and economic impact of the Covid-19 outbreak. As an initiative of The EBW Foundation (Empowering a Billion Women) the COVIDxNOW team is actively seeking and recruiting leaders from around the world who are innovating revolutionary solutions to combat the impact of COVID-19.

Brazil – Religious Liberty Week

25 May, 2020

Religious Freedom Week, Sao Paulo, Brazil

May 25 is the State Day of Religious Freedom. During this week a sequence of online events celebrating religious freedom is being held  under the leadership of Congresswoman Dr. Damaris Moura. See Brian Grim’s talk (dubbed into Portuguese).

COVID 19: Business, Religion, Economics (May 21)

15 May, 2020

The World in View

The coronavirus pandemic is impacting different spheres of human activity worldwide. Many countries are heading for unprecedented recessions.

Join RFBF President Brian Grim this Thursday with Azza Karam (Religions for Peace), Jeffrey Franks (IMF) and Cole Durham (BYU) to discuss how different sectors are responding.

COVID-19: Business, Religion, Economics

Thursday, May 21 at 9:00-10:00 AM EDT (Washington DC) 3:00-4:00 PM CEST (Brussels).

Register here.

The Coronavirus pandemic is impacting different spheres of human activity. Many countries are heading for unprecedented recessions. The crisis will therefore lead to relevant changes. The aim of this webinar is to address how the pandemic is impacting the world and the contribution of the business sector, world religions and international organizations like the International Monetary Fund.

The following issues will be addressed:
– Economic context of the global pandemic and its impact on religious groups
– Contribution of world religions and its impact on businesses and public finances
– Initiatives of international organizations

Panelists (download biographies):
Brian Grim, Ph.D., President, Religious Freedom & Business Foundation
Azza Karam, Ph.D., Secretary General, Religions for Peace
Jeffrey Franks, Ph.D., Asst. Dir., Europe., International Monetary Fund

Prof. Cole W. Durham, International Center for Law and Religion Studies, Brigham Young University

Faith & Belief ERGs WebEx Call, June 2

8 May, 2020

Topic: Faith-Oriented ERGs’ Response at American Airlines to Covid-19

Note: Will not be recorded and is off the record (Chatham House Rule)

Faith-Oriented Employee Resource Groups throughout the world are helping inspire compassionate and effective responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. The June 2 call will feature insights from the faith-and-belief-related Employee Business Resource Groups (EBRGs) of American Airlines.

This is the third in a series of monthly interfaith ERG community calls. The first featured insights from Intel and the second various faith ERGs at American Express. The next call will be Tuesday, July 7, with Salesforce hosting the call.

Background Concept

by Kent Johnson, Senior Corporate Advisor, RFBF

The Covid-19 crisis spotlights another threatening illness in companies and society today: The apparent lack of authenticity, transparency and trust.

Especially during this time when we’re barred from in-person interaction, coworkers need to go deeper; to get more personal – and more authentic. We need deep connections among people collaborating all over the world – including people who differ in their faiths and beliefs, but who share core personal motivations to promote honesty, compassion and unselfishness.  This need will remain after Covid-19 is defeated.

Faith-and-Belief-oriented Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) have a lot to offer in this crisis. The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s (RFBF’s) online conferences promote freedom of expression about faith and core values in the workplace. RFBF’s rigorous studies illustrate how this freedom enables human flourishing.  We celebrate companies that do this well, especially those that encourage employees to bring their full authentic selves to work, including their faith. And we see increasing evidence that companies are increasingly embracing faith-oriented ERGs as enormously beneficial for business – and for society at large.

We’re thankful that many of you are joining us in this hope-filled venture for a cure to the lack of authenticity, transparency and trust. And we are also pleased to announce the launch of the first-ever LinkedIn Group for Faith and Belief ERGs. Please join our LINKEDIN GROUP to share your thoughts and to stay in touch.

Learn about RFBF’s Corporate Religious Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (REDI) Index:

Religion: The next frontier in workplace diversity and inclusion

8 May, 2020

  • Most employee groups are focused around gender, minorities – but faith groups are gaining steam

  • May 7, 2020 By Marcel Vander Wier*

“Faith-based employee groups are gaining steam in the United States, according to Brian Grim, founder and president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation in Annapolis, Maryland.

While companies such as American Express and American Airlines have been supporting these groups for 20 years, fresh support from Google, Facebook and Walmart have boosted the popularity of the workplace faith groups, he says.

‘There is — just in recent years — an acceleration of that trend among companies such as Walmart, who now have started their own interfaith employee group,’ says Grim. ‘Others like Salesforce started less than three years ago and it’s now their fastest-growing employee group.’

Largely driven by worker demand, employee faith-based groups have a positive effect on recruitment and retention, as it encourages staff to bring their whole selves to work, he says.”

Read full article.

* Talent Canada makes the business case for investing in HR to a new and critical audience – C-suite professionals and senior decision-makers at companies of all sizes across Canada. It is designed to catch the attention of professionals who don’t hold HR titles but understand the value of people.

Religious Freedom in Corporate America: May 13, noon EDT

5 May, 2020

More US Firms Are Boosting Faith-Based Support For Employees

  • Join Brian Grim
  • Date: Wednesday, May 13, 2020
  • New York Time 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
  • Online – Peace Islands Institute New York*
  • Free and open to the public – registration required

It has become standard practice for U.S. corporations to assure employees of support regardless of their race, gender or sexual orientation. There’s now an intensifying push to ensure that companies are similarly supportive and inclusive when it comes to employees’ religious beliefs.

One barometer: More than 20% of the Fortune 100 have established faith-based employee resource groups. Corporate America is at a tipping point toward giving religion similar attention to that given the other major diversity categories. A few companies have long-established faith-in-the-workplace programs, such as Arkansas-based Tyson Foods, which deploys a team of more than 90 chaplains to comfort and counsel employees at its plants and offices. That program began in 2000.

The top 10 in the rankings on the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s Corporate Religious Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (REDI) Index feature some of America’s best-known companies – Google’s parent company Alphabet, Intel, Tyson Foods, Target, Facebook, American Airlines, Apple, Dell, American Express and Goldman Sachs. Tyson won points for its chaplaincy program; most of the others have formed either a single interfaith employee resource group or separate groups for major religions such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

Google’s interfaith group, the Inter Belief Network, has chapters for those faiths and for Buddhists, while Intel has a group for agnostics and atheists, as well as groups for major religious faiths. See the full report here.

* Peace Islands Institute New York, founded in 2012, is a nonprofit devoted to promoting interfaith and intercultural dialogue. They welcome everyone in society with programs to connect people in real life and help instill respect and understanding for all people.

Bringing my whole self to work: A Catholic perspective

5 May, 2020

by Laura DeMaria

Executive Director, National Association for County Community and Economic Development

Around my office at the secular nonprofit where I work, there are small physical markers of my Catholic faith on display: a candle with an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a small crucifix under my monitor, a prayer card for St. Dominic. My team knows I sometimes step out in the middle of the day to attend daily Mass at the cathedral down the street.

Returning to Faith

I was not always a practicing Catholic. Although I was baptized and received First Holy Communion as a child, my family stopped attending church shortly after. Other than attending on holidays (and even then, sometimes not), I was not raised to actively practice my faith.

It wasn’t until my late 20s, after a few big life changes, including graduation from grad school at American University, moving to another state, and the start of my current career, that I began searching. I remember feeling that I didn’t have all the answers; I wondered about the purpose of life and sought answers on how to live in a way that held meaning.

Figuring that the faith of my childhood was as good a place to start as any, I began attending Mass here and there, and I learned to pray the rosary. Now and then Mass attendance became weekly, or sometimes daily, and I decided to be confirmed in the Church.

After confirmation, I experienced a peace I had not known. While being a Christian and living a faith of life doesn’t mean your life is suddenly easy, it does mean that at least you know why you are living. The call to serve God transcends just the home and personal relationships; it is why, even in the workplace, my faith informs who I am and how I lead.

The Golden Rule

The Golden Rule tells us to “treat others as you want to be treated.” Or, as Jesus said, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matthew 22:39)

For Catholics, this means to truly see the face of Jesus in all you meet. Jesus also tells us: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:35-40)

What does this mean for work? At a basic level, it influences customer service and how I manage my many relationships, including with volunteers, sponsors, a Board of Directors, and of course, my own staff. The Golden Rule means I strive to exercise patience even when it is difficult, practice empathy, and try to see the other side. It also means my interactions must be grounded in respect.

At the same time, if Jesus lives in others, that must mean he lives in me. Therefore, that respect is a two-way street. Because I believe in this fundamental dignity of others, it means I respect them enough to surface conflict as it arises, and trust them to do their work. These are critical behaviors contributing to an overall positive culture and work environment.


One of the core beliefs of Christianity is the importance of community. We see our lives as inextricably linked with others,’ and this principle is grounded in the philosophy of the Body of Christ. As St. Paul described it: “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)

He goes on to describe how all parts of the body are dependent on each other: “If a foot should say, “Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body.” (1 Corinthians 12:15) In the community of the workplace, we also see how dependent we are on each other.

Workplace teams are like a microcosm of the Body of Christ described by St. Paul. While I may serve a particular role as an executive director, others on the team serve equally important functions, and I cannot perform those roles. How can the event planner be the accountant, or the admin assistant the lobbyist? And just as in the Body of Christ, the part impacts the whole. For a team to be fully functional, all pieces must work together. Together we are successful, but working in silos, we may miscommunicate, miss deadlines or fall short of revenue goals. At work, community is often our greatest strength.

Emphasizing the importance of each individual’s role and responsibilities – and giving them the freedom to serve their role – creates not just role clarity, but mission clarity, too. If each individual is secure in their position on the team, then the team is stronger and more productive.


Charity is another element of the Catholic faith that does not only occur solely at church or in the home. Jesus tells us, “Everyone to whom much is given, of him will much more be required.” (Luke 12:48) That means even businesses and professionals, particularly those experiencing material success, have an obligation to give back.

Many companies practice charity by hosting events or employee competitions to raise money for a cause. Some bake corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies into their annual budget so that a certain percent of profits each year goes to charity.

My own work is guided by this belief in the necessity to give back and share blessings. In multiple professional settings, I have served as a CSR Chair, organizing volunteer events or raising awareness about specific causes for employees. I have found that these events provide an opportunity for colleagues to get to know each other in a new way outside of work, which often leads to deeper relationships and builds trust. It is wonderful and freeing to recognize one’s own material blessings and share them with others.


The Catholic faith calls us to grow in virtue, because we believe that to live a virtuous life means to live a happy life. The virtues include prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance, humility, and other virtues that dispose one to behave in a good or moral way.

In the office, as in other parts of my life, I seek to act in a way that is virtuous and reflective of my values. Cultivating humility reminds me that I am not always right, and can learn something from those around me. Prudence instructs me on how to make informed, rational decisions, rather than reactive decisions. Fortitude shows me how to persevere through challenging situations. And temperance teaches me to temper my work relationships with the appropriate amount of professionalism and warmth. It also teaches me not to overindulge at the company Christmas party!


If not for my prayer life, I would not be as centered or as effective a leader. I have found that achieving deep prayer cultivates virtue and aids in decision-making.

For those in leadership, the ability to develop and maintain self-awareness of one’s motivations is critical. Engaging in conversational forms of prayer with God, my own motivations and inclinations are uncovered. Why did a comment bother me? Why am I really making this decision? What fears are holding me back?

Setting aside time every day to pray or mindfully reflect cultivates practical virtues like humility, wisdom and gratitude. I also pray for those who I work with, and especially those who report to me. It is difficult to remain irritated at someone you pray for! Praying for others also aids in forgiveness. Even when I travel, I am sure to bring a small Bible and at least a rosary to maintain the routine in the midst of a different environment. My prayer practice calls me back to myself.


My faith does not just belong in the church or home. God calls me to be His at all times, including at work. If I did not have my Catholic beliefs, I am sure I would still act ethically, as do so many non-Christians in the workplace. However, these beliefs help me to apply a more human, empathetic element to the work I do and to the colleagues I interact with. It is more than simply doing the right thing, it is elevating work to something spiritual, an offering to God.

Business Champion Profile: Cai Shiyin, Shanghai

2 May, 2020

Global Business & Interfaith Peace Medalist

Inspired by her own faith and working among the blind in Tibet, Ms. CAI Shiyin, Global Business & Interfaith Peace medalist, founded of Dialogue in the Dark in China. Through activities such as supporting the first blind runner to complete the Boston Marathon, she is changing society’s prejudices against blind/deaf and all other marginalized groups, and providing job opportunities with dignity to the marginalized.

Cai Shiyin was one of three women business leaders who shared their vision during the 2018 Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards and Symposium in Seoul, South Korea, in the video below by Elena Taber.

Joining Ms. Cai is Anna McCoy, Senior Business Strategist and CEO of The EBW Foundation. Anna is also a principal and chief strategy and global officer of UrbanAmerica, a private real estate equity and development firm she co-founded in 1998 with her husband of 18 years. She managed real estate transactions in excess of $2 billion and has written three books, teaching women about financial literacy and empowering women globally to step into their greatness.

Also featured is former Dell Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Ingrid Vanderveldt, who has the audacious goal of by 2020 empowering a billion women from all faiths to work together to achieve more, give more and accomplish more. She believes that the relationship between women in business and this mission is sustainable and helps women leaders worldwide to pursue unity, love and peace.

By Catherine Zheng
April 27, 2020

A Christian entrepreneur, Ms. Cai Shiyin, has recently received letters of thanks from local communities and hospitals in Italy and New York for her efforts in raising donations for them.

Inspired by her Christian faith, she believes that God’s love can extend to wherever there is a need for help and support. This is especially important since the coronavirus has become a global threat.

The latest donation made by Cai, the founder and CEO of Dialogue in Dark (China), went to Biella, a province in northern Italy. Ms. Cai visited Ms. Laura Gorni, a senior partner at Dialogue in Dark (DiD), an organization dedicated to changing society’s prejudices against blind and deaf persons and all other marginalized groups.

On March 28, Cai noticed a post on Laura’s Facebook page giving information on needs in the local community, and that Laura was also volunteering to help people with their daily needs. She contacted her fellow friends and believers immediately and raised a donation totalling 2,700 euros. Two days after the funds were transferred to Laura, Cai and her friends received letters of thanks from Tiziana Pasquale, the mayor of Netro, a village in Biella. Local public organizations such as Amici dell’Ospedale di Biella and Istituto Chiossone also expressed their appreciation.

According to a CNN report on March 19, the coronavirus death toll in Italy reached 3,405, surpassing China  and becoming the largest number worldwide at that time. This caused concerns and worry for Ms. Cai, who became ready to give a hand to her acquaintances in Italy.

In the meantime, other countries were also experiencing a rapid growth in diagnosed COVID-19 cases. Before March, Ms. Cai and her team were dedicated to raising donations from abroad to support Wuhan and other severely infected areas in China. But recently, they began to work in reverse order, arranging donations of medical supplies from China to Japan, Germany and hospitals in the Bronx, New York, where the doctors were in great need of masks to take care of patients not infected with COVID-19.

Although the efficiency of logistics and customs clearance was jeopardized by the pandemic, she and her team insisted on the mission, trying their best to help, big or small. She said, “We need to continue helping each other, whether in small or large ways.”

In fact, this has not been the first time Ms. Cai reached out to those in need. After being abroad for 14 years, when she completed Christian studies at Regent College, she dedicated herself to helping the blind. The volunteer work in a blind school in Tibet and the experience in the Atlanta exhibition of DiD, intrigued her passion in mission work and social work to eliminate injustice and discrimination of marginalized people in her home country. In March 2011, she brought DiD to China officially and opened the first office and training center.