Working for workplace religious diversity, equity & inclusion

E-NEWS ACTION DONATE

Monthly Archives: November 2020

Podcast: Forum on Workplace Inclusion, Sponsored by US Bank

27 Nov, 2020

How to Welcome Faith Oriented Diversity in a Workplace: A Better Way

In this episode of The Forum Podcast, Dr. Brian Grim, Kent Johnson, and Paul Lambert of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation offer best practices to build successful & diverse religiously-inclusive workplaces.

Companies are increasingly intrigued or concerned about the growing emphasis on religious diversity at work. Increasingly, company leaders are realizing that, for many employees, it is their faith, more than any other single factor, that defines their core identity. When corporate culture constrains them from referring to their faith at work, they feel devalued, and forced “under cover.” They feel they can’t “be themselves.” They can become alienated from their work. Yet, many business leaders have no idea how to approach the topic of faith and belief in the workplace. They wonder: What are the best practices in this area? What are pitfalls to avoid? What can/should be done? We at the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation have been working for years with companies that are trailblazers in religious diversity. We can report that there is a better way. Join us to learn more!

Learning Outcomes
  • — Learn best practices through an overview of successful and diverse religiously inclusive workplaces
  • — Understand pitfalls to avoid by seeing cost of a religiously non-inclusive workplace
  • — Grasp breadth of the faith at work movement be seeing how it has grown in the past 12 months
Resources

Handout – Measuring the Fortune 100’s commitment to religious inclusion

Sponsored by

us bank logo

Join us Dec. 3 2020!

27 Nov, 2020

Summit: How Embracing Religious Diversity & Inclusion Strengthens Workplaces

Dangerous impact of Covid-19 lockdown: Rise in religious prejudice

24 Nov, 2020

The BBC summarized the key findings of a new study on diversity as follows:

Widespread working from home could lead to an increase in racism and prejudice, a new report warns (BBC).

– Workplace friendships are key to breaking down misconceptions, the England and Wales study for the Woolf Institute suggests.
– Institute founder Ed Kessler said as more people work from home they risk going “back into isolated silos”.
– He called on ministers to focus on offices and workplaces as a “vital” area for improving community relations.
– The study, conducted by polling company Survation for the Woolf Institute, which researches interfaith relations, surveyed 11,701 people.

The Study

What do we think of our neighbours? And what do they think of us? When it comes to race, religion and immigration, what divides us and what brings us together? Do we all share the same experiences of the diverse everyday world around us? Or is diversity something other people do? These are some of the questions that motivated the Woolf Institute to produce How We Get Along: The Diversity Study of England and Wales 2020.

We surveyed 11,701 people across England and Wales and asked questions concerning their attitudes towards ethnic, national and religious diversity and their experiences of it. To bring these issues closer to home, we invited respondents to share their attitudes towards a close relative marrying someone from a different background. We also explored our lived experiences of diversity both at work and among friendship groups.

The study is the largest known study of diversity undertaken in the UK. We have the data needed to drill down to the local level, to consider a wide array of demographic and socio-economic factors and to make recommendations for future policymaking in this area.

For all media enquiries, email Ben Rich.

Principal Investigator Dr Edward Kessler edk21@cam.ac.uk

Lead Researcher Dr Julian Hargreaves jh970@cam.ac.uk

The Report, Executive Summary and Appendix are free to download:

A Pandemic Thanksgiving: Gratitude For What We Do Have

24 Nov, 2020

Bryan Robinson, Ph.D., writing in Forbes, offers some helpful advice for a Pandemic Thanksgiving:

“Studies show that when we express gratitude, it raises our happiness by 25%. It’s simple science; whatever we focus on expands. When we express gratitude to the people we work with (for who they are and what they do), not only does it lift us up, it lifts them up, too. Consider making a gratitude list of the many things you’re grateful for—the coworkers, your career and other people and things, even pets—that make your life rich and full. After you’ve made your list, contemplate your appreciation for each item, especially anything you’ve taken for granted that would leave your life empty if you didn’t have it. Then share your gratitude through a card, email, Zoom or text to colleagues in the workplace.”

Read his full article here.

Docudrama Training Series Advances Religious Freedom Worldwide

23 Nov, 2020

Women Filmmakers from Iran and Afghanistan Produce Docudrama Training Series to Advance Religious Freedom Worldwide

A direct outcome of the Marrakesh Declaration, U.N. Plan of Action and Potomac Declaration, LIVE WHAT YOU BELIEVE, promotes Multi-Faith living in the Workplace and Society.

(Los Angeles and Washington DC) – Launched on November 19, 2020 during the International Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, LIVE WHAT YOU BELIEVE is an interactive film -based training series to equip professionals and influencers to support freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) around the globe. The certificate eCourse training is a direct outcome of worldwide declarations to counter religious-based violence and discrimination. Created in partnership with Empower Women Media and other advocacy organizations, the training explores how freedom of belief is good for peaceful, prosperous, and thriving societies.

Contacts:

“We hope this docudrama training series stimulates rich conversations and fruitful advocacy efforts that shift culture to support greater religious freedom in every corner of the world,” shared Shirin Taber, executive producer and director or Empower Women Media. Iranian-American, Taber’s family fled Iran during the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Her Iranian, Muslim father and American, Christian mother knew it would be too dangerous to live as a religiously-mixed family inside Iran’s Islamic republic. Today, Shirin shares her father gave her the enduring gift of religious freedom.

“Many organizations already do a great job documenting and publicizing the tragic cases of religious discrimination and persecution around the world,” shares Mariya Dostzadah Goodbrake, originally from Afghanistan. “While our series acknowledges these human rights violations, our focus is to draw attention to what is not being talked about enough – the many positive benefits of the universal right of freedom of religion, belief and conscience.”

In preparation for creating the training docudrama series, the producers, Nancy Sawyer Schraeder and Shirin Taber, conducted over a dozen interviews with some of the top religious freedom experts in the world. They filmed ambassadors, lawyers, advocates, and scholars as they shared their research and experience. Then, they interwove throughout the interviews the dramatic story of a young woman and her immigrant family experiencing the benefits of religious freedom in their workplace and community. As Nada Higuera, constitutional lawyer with a Palestinian heritage explains, “Cultivating freedom of belief and conscience unleashes creativity and innovation which is needed more than ever in our increasingly global world.”

The four episode online training series, which can be completed in 60-90 minutes, explores freedom of belief and how it contributes to peaceful and stable societies, empowers women, and encourages business and innovation. Discussion questions and curriculum accompany the docudramas. The certificate eCourse seeks to educate, empower, and equip influencers to advance freedom of religion or belief in the marketplace and society.

Normally a $180 certificate eCourse, Empower Women Media is offering the online workshop for free until December 30, 2020.

Live What You Believe registration link: https://human-rights-and-religious-freedom-training.teachable.com/p/home

Free Scholarship Code: LWYB2020

Research confirms that people are more entrepreneurial and productive when they are allowed to freely express their beliefs (whether religious or secular) and bring their whole selves to work. As Jacqueline Isaac, an Egyptian and international lawyer, says: “We cannot ignore that in order to flourish, people have to be able to address their deepest questions of existence and meaning, both privately and in community with others.”

For more information about the LIVE WHAT YOU BELIEV eCourse, contact the Empower Women Media Director, Shirin Taber at shirin@visualstory.org or www.empowerwomen.media

Expert Interviews:

  • – Dr. Brian Grim (Religious Freedom & Business Foundation)
  • – Robert Seiple (Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom)
  • – Lou Ann Sabatier (21 Wilberforce)
  • – Greg Mitchell (International Religious Freedom Round Table)
  • – Katherine Cash (The FoRB Learning Platform)
  • – Dr. Azza Karam (Religions For Peace)
  • – Dr. Paul Marshal (Baylor University)
  • – Rabbi Michael Shevack (The Alliance for Enlighted Judaism)
  • – Ed Brown (Stefanus Alliance International)
  • – Hussein Aboubakr (Educator and Advocate)
  • – Kristina Arriaga (US Commission on International Religious Freedom)
  • – Jacqueline Isaac (International Lawyer and Women’s Rights Advocate)
  • – Nada Higuera (Constitutional Lawyer)

Pilot Multi-Faith Calendar 2021 – Launch Event Nov 17

15 Nov, 2020

IMMEDIATE RELEASE: WASHINGTON DC | DALLAS, TX

What: Launch of Multi-Faith Calendar for 2021
When: Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, 6:30pm Eastern US Time
Registration: click here to register
Contact Email for Event Planner: Almas Muscatwalla

See the 2021 Multi-Faith Calendar.

Today, businesses, civic and faith organizations, non-profits, schools, social groups and families exist in a multi-faith environment. Join us for the launch of a new tool put together by the multi-faith community in Dallas, Texas, that is designed to help promote interfaith understanding and religious inclusion in workplaces across the country in our increasingly pluralistic society.

The tool is the first iteration of a multi-faith calendar produced by the Thanks-Giving Foundation of Dallas, Texas. It is the result of the cooperation of many of the local faith groups associated with the foundation, with the aim of expanding the calendar in 2022 to include an even more diverse range of faiths and beliefs. 

To make suggestions for the 2022 calendar, email RFBF and we’ll pass them along.

Speakers

Dr. Brian Grim, president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, will speak on the benefits of this new tool for the business community. Indeed, one of the important new developments in corporate America is a push to recognize and accommodate the religious needs of employees, with companies as diverse as Accenture, Google and Dollar Stores placing an emphasis on a workplace “religious accommodation mindset.”

The launch event will be kicked off by Dr. Eboo Patel. Eboo founded Interfaith Youth Core on the idea that religion should be a bridge of cooperation rather than a barrier of division. He is inspired to build this bridge by his identity as an American Muslim navigating a religiously diverse social landscape.

Dr. Michael Hinojosa, Superintendent Dallas Independent School District (ISD), will talk about the importance of this calendar for school planning, and James. C. Scoggin, Jr., CEO, Methodist Health System will highlight the impact of this knowledge in the medical institutions.

The chief architects of the calendar are Rose Marie Stromberg and Almas Muscatwalla. They will introduce several of the speakers as will Chris Trowbridge, Chairman, The Thanks-Giving Foundation; Kyle Ogden, President and CEO, The Thanks-Giving Foundation; and Andy Stoker, a member of Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square and the Faith Advisory Committee for The Dallas Morning News..

Virtual International Religious Freedom (IRF) Roundtable

12 Nov, 2020

IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Washington DC | Warsaw, Poland

What: Virtual IRF Roundtable
When: Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, 2-4pm Eastern US Time
Optional Registration: click here to register (optional)
Webex link on the day: click here to download details
Contact Email for Event Planner: ben@irfsecretariat.net

At the conclusion of the formal meetings of the Third Ministerial to Advance Freedom of Religion or Belief hosted this year by the government of Poland, a Virtual IRF Roundtable will be launched to focus on how we can help to construct mechanisms for global and regional cooperation and coordination.

At the Roundtable, after opening remarks from Polish and U.S. government officials, we will deliver updates on the IRF Roundtable and the global network of religious freedom roundtables and partners, introduce IRF Secretariat as a global coordination mechanism, hear from civil society leaders on the need for global and regional cooperation and coordination, and learn about a planned survey to determine how we can most effectively foster cooperative engagement and global coordination across global networks of religious freedom roundtables, governments, and parliamentarians.

BACKGROUND

On November 16-17, 2020, the government of Poland will host the third Ministerial to Advance Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB). Due to COVID-19, this year’s Ministerial will be entirely virtual.

After opening remarks by leaders of the Polish and U.S. governments, remarks will be delivered by the heads of all high-level government delegations.

During the second day (from 1.00 PM – 6.45 PM CET / 7:00 am – 12:45 pm EST), Poland will bring together members of civil society and religious organizations to discuss topics of freedom of religion or belief in relation to COVID-19, Sustainable Development Goals, and security. There will be three sessions:

    • — Session 1 (General Session): United in Dialogue during COVID-19
    • — Session 2 (Thematic Session): FoRB in support of Agenda 2030
    • — Session 3 (Thematic Session): FoRB and security – can they be harmonized?

The IRF Virtual Roundtable

DRAFT AGENDA

  1. Welcome
    • – Greg Mitchell, IRF Roundtable & IRF Secretariat
  2. Opening Remarks & Reports
    • – Polish Government official (invited)
    • – US Government official (invited)
  3. IRF Roundtable & Global Network
    • Update
      • – Greg Mitchell, IRF Roundtable
    • Successful Case Studies:
      • – Sudan: William Devlin, REDEEM (invited)
      • – Kazakhstan: Wade Kusack, Love Your Neighbor Community (LYNC)
      • – SEAFORB Network: Thang Nguyen, Boat People SOS
    • Successful Outcomes
    • IRF Secretariat
      • Description
        • – Greg Mitchell, IRF Secretariat
      • Global Panel
        • – Jan Figel, Global FoRB Leadership Council
        • – David Anderson, IPPFoRB
        • – Moderator: Paul Murray, IRF Secretariat
      • Regional Panel
        • – Nqabayomzi Kwankwa, MP South Africa and AfriPahr (African Parliamentarians for Human Rights) (invited)
        • – Sir Charles Hoare, UK/Western Europe
        • – Raúl Marroquín, Latin America
        • – Moderator: Simran Singh Stuelpnagel, IRF Secretariat
      • Survey
        • – Brian Grim, Religious Freedom & Business Foundation
        1. Closing Remarks
            • – Special Guest
            • – U.S. Senator James Lankford
            • – Greg Mitchell, IRF Roundtable & IRF Secretariat

Podcast – How to Welcome Faith Oriented Diversity in a Workplace: A Better Way

11 Nov, 2020

DEI Strategy

In this episode of The Forum Podcast, Dr. Brian GrimKent Johnson, and Paul Lambert of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation offer best practices to build successful & diverse religiously inclusive workplaces.

Companies are increasingly intrigued or concerned about the growing emphasis on religious diversity at work. Increasingly, company leaders are realizing that, for many employees, it is their faith, more than any other single factor, that defines their core identity. When corporate culture constrains them from referring to their faith at work, they feel devalued, and forced “under cover.” They feel they can’t “be themselves.” They can become alienated from their work. Yet, many business leaders have no idea how to approach the topic of faith and belief in the workplace. They wonder: What are the best practices in this area? What are pitfalls to avoid? What can/should be done? We at the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation have been working for years with companies that are trailblazers in religious diversity. We can report that there is a better way. Join us to learn more!

Learning Outcomes
  • — Learn best practices through an overview of successful and diverse religiously inclusive workplaces
  • — Understand pitfalls to avoid by seeing cost of a religiously non-inclusive workplace
  • — Grasp breadth of the faith at work movement be seeing how it has grown in the past 12 months

Faith at Intel

3 Nov, 2020

Faith Based Groups Within US Corporations

Watch this lively interview with Craig Carter of Intel, describing how faith is being welcomed in corporate America, and it’s building bridges of trust between people of different faiths and beliefs.

Original: TerminalValuePodcast youtu.be/vL6FP1zGuro

To many people, faith and religion are the same thing. This is certainly true some of the time, but not in every situation.

Doug and Craig discuss the perspective of faith as deep belief and the way that belief can truly bring people together even if the nature of their beliefs are different. When we take this broader view of faith-based organizations, it becomes apparent that nearly everybody is engaged in some form of faith-based endeavor.

Doug’s business specializes in partnering with companies and non-profits to capture overhead cost savings without layoffs to fund growth and strengthen financial results.

Schedule time with Doug to talk about your business at MeetDoug.Biz

Role of religious freedom in combatting violence against women in India

3 Nov, 2020

By Sharon Angel

Rape cases in India have been prevalent and have been getting a lot of attention over the past five years. Some of the most prevalent rape cases are slowly starting to bring justice to the victims of sexual abuse.

2012
Jyothi Singh from Delhi was gang-raped by seven men on a moving bus and thrown on the side of a road, left to die (Nirbhaya case). Jyothi Singh is with us no more.

2013
A 22-year-old photojournalist was gang-raped by five men near Shakthi Mills, Mumbai, and threatened with death if she reported the incident.

2015
74-year-old nun raped at a convent in Ranaghat, Kolkata, along with money stolen from her before the rape. Six attackers were accused in her case.

2016
17-year old Dalit (lower caste) girl left dead on college water tank after being raped by her physical trainer. Indian National Congress (INC) fails to prove her murder and provide justice to her father who fought the case.

2017
Unnao’s (Uttar Pradesh) 18-year-old girl raped by BJP (Political party) leader. Case results in the BJP leader’s lifetime imprisonment for the girl’s father’s death.

2018
8-year-old Asifa was abducted, gang-raped, and murdered in a village near Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir. The case received particular attention as the Muslim girl was raped by Hindu men.

2019
Pastor Samuel from Central India refused to stop preaching the gospel. To teach him a lesson, his 4-year-old daughter was raped by Hindu extremists in a rural village.


All the rape victims mentioned are women from various backgrounds. Whether educated, lower caste, a child, an old woman, Hindu, Muslim or Christian, a woman is in danger of losing her life. India practices multiple faiths, yet will come together to defend humanity. However, lately, it appears that religious institutions are not doing enough to educate, protect and stand on the front lines to ensure justice for the tarnished souls of this often vulnerable community.

News agencies, streaming networks, and the average man in India are doing their best to bring to light these gruesome acts so that women can feel more secure. But digital voices such as “India’s daughter” were banned due to hate speech against the government. When free speech is under attack, all anyone can do is look to religion and its leaders to find hope.

When these digital voices are shut down, who else will fight for her justice?

When Pastor Samuel experienced grief along with his family, he said that he would continue to preach and requested prayers for their family. After that, we hear no news of whether the girl was avenged, her abuser convicted, and if any measures were taken to prevent potential sexual abuse of other girls in the community.

When a leader or a follower is attacked in the name of religion, it becomes personal to the community. In this case, the Christian community was appalled and voiced concerns of religious persecution. It is true that many minority religious groups are targeted in India but right now, we can only depend on the faith communities to ensure that those who have lived through shame, guilt, suicidal intentions, emotional battles and physical bruises, find justice, restoration and hope. Religious freedom protects the freedom of an individual’s conscience. If religious leaders want that freedom for themselves, then they must have compassion and fight for the justice of victims in their own faith, then others.

What are religious communities doing to rebuild the victim’s lost identity?

When a girl is raped and her case becomes public, her whole family is humiliated. Social appearance is everything in India, but in the process of navigating through such public humiliation, the victimized daughter must become the priority and not how the family is perceived in the eyes of others. Medical care must be provided for the daughter’s physical and mental pain, no matter how old she is. On the other hand, as she feels a sense of despair and loss, it is important that society at large is taught not to lose respect for the people of other religions or religion itself.

Religion is rooted in value systems of good vs evil and justice finds base in the execution of these moral systems. So when a daughter is raped, faith communities must spearhead legal battles to ensure justice in the speedy conviction of the rapist. Different faith communities have not come together to override fear mongers or unite to hold the evildoers accountable for their wrong-doing. Our generation needs to change that.

Social standing is so important in India and that’s why many young women are pressured into becoming engineers, doctors or nurses so that they can marry well. But when a girl is stained by an unwelcome abuser, she loses her image of being pure and is shunned by society, and sadly loses her ability to marry well. On the other hand, because of her stain, she is unable to find a job, establish a career, and stand on her own two legs. Her community must join hands to restore her back to life or else she will remain in her label as an “outcast” allowing her abuser to have the final say in her future.

While we are on the topic of restoring life, religion exists to give second chances to sinners. That means rapists must also be restored back into society after they have served their sentence and undergone rehabilitation. They must be counseled and kept accountable for their actions so that these atrocities do not repeat themselves.

These might be incredibly difficult tasks to take on. They might be uncomfortable to address and it might not be the calling of religious leaders to handle these social evils. But there is one thing that anyone, regardless of their religious background, can do: Instead of locking up young girls in the name of safety, let society start a conversation about the value of the physical body. Just because we are fearful of something or someone, doesn’t mean we must close our eyes and hope evil is somehow banished from society. We find hope only when we push through fear. To push through fear we must unite, have difficult conversations and work on providing justice for the broken under the banner of religion.

Her second chance to life

Women who come out of a broken situation, usually struggle to find their identity. Sadly, one of the first aspects to shatter is their faith. Specifically, faith in humanity which trickles down to losing faith in life itself. The one institution that can restore faith while allowing her to rebuild her identity, is religion. By religion, I mean the people who point her to the God of her belief system. Today, religion does not provide a safe place for her to explore her faith. It casts her away as bruised, broken and unworthy.

Equipping such women with tools in business and job skills can change that. When she goes through an intensively gruesome situation such as rape and survives it, her will empowers her to become stronger. She is ready to work, believe and re-shape her life.

Faith communities need to allow her to rebuild her crumbled identity in relationships, career, sexuality, and desperation for justice. This restoration can take years and it is necessary that she is given the space to be emotional while healing from the trauma of her experience. Business can also play an important role in that healing process. She will not only help herself, but also help others in defining religion, bringing justice, rehabilitating health, and earning a living.

To help in the fight against rape and other crimes against women in India, religious leaders must come together, overcome fear, go beyond praying, and create safe spaces, allowing for honest and vulnerable conversations, along with counseling. Such religious institutions can play a vital role in bringing lasting change and healing to the victims of abuse and help society confront the evils done against women.

After all, victims of abuse are attempting to rebuild their identity. Invest in their rehabilitation. Don’t let rape win!

For more thoughts on identity, check out Sharon Angel’s book “The Courage to Identify Who You Are” on Amazon.