The coronavirus has not only claimed more than one million lives worldwide, it has disrupted what had come to be seen as the inevitable march forward of a globalized world. It has contributed fuel to nationalism that was already on the rise, making the path forward less predictable.
Times of disruption are almost always an opportunity for growth, according to the late Harvard business scholar Clayton Christensen. So, what has been the experience of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation during this time? It has been indeed a time of growth because instead of just maintaining the projects we engaged with, we expanded initiatives aimed at promoting our core mission:
to educate the global business community, policymakers, non-government organizations and consumers about the positive power faith — and religious freedom for all — has on business and the economy.
Four ways we have innovated during the coronavirus disruption are:
1. New Research and Writing
During the height of the shutdown period, we (Kent Johnson, Paul Lambert and I) compiled the first-ever book of voices from business leaders across Fortune 500 companies describing why bringing one’s whole self to work — faith and all — is a business imperative. The movement of toward faith-friendly workplaces is already underway, and we believe that the than 45 business leaders who share their own personal “why” will make this a paradigm shifting book. Stay tuned for more as the book moves towards publication in 2021.
2. Impacting New Audiences
Over the past two weeks we have described to new audiences the powerful ally business is in advancing religious freedom by allowing people to be their authentic selves in the workplace. This includes describing the faith and business movement to the following audiences:
— Dallas, TX: Interfaith Encounters on Religious Freedom, hosted by Dr. Robert Hunt of Southern Methodist University.
— Washington DC: J. Reuben Clark Law Society Religious Liberty Interns.
— Denver, CO: Launching Leaders Worldwide annual stakeholders meeting.
— Geneva, Switzerland: World Economic Forum’s Sustainability Summit.
— New York, NY: Principled Entrepreneurship Conference sponsored by the Napa Institute and the Busch School of Business at The Catholic University of America.
And forthcoming, Nov. 9:
— Winnipeg, Canada: Entrepreneurial Leadership Network’s ELO Forum Online, Rethinking Diversity & Faith at Work
3. New alliances
Next month we’ll be announcing a new alliance to provide a brand new tool for corporate America to assess their level of religious diversity and inclusion.
4. New Technologies
Rather than wait for the world to go back to “normal,” we are embracing the new normal where major meetings and conferences will be online or a combination of virtual and in-person. Ww have invested in a software system that makes this possible starting in December – stay tuned!
Finally, as the the late Harvard business scholar Clayton Christensen points out, disruption is an opportunity, but for those unwilling to adapt, it is a threat. Join us as we seize the opportunities ahead!