Working for workplace religious diversity, equity & inclusion


Monthly Archives: December 2020

Corporate America is INCLUDING religion in diversity & INCLUSION

29 Dec, 2020

Corporate America is including religion in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives through faith-oriented Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)

By Greg Clark

For many years, Corporate America’s DEI initiatives have mostly focused on race, gender or sexual orientation, but that is changing because for many their core identity (who they really are) is rooted in their faith.

Understanding the business imperative of allowing people to bring their “whole selves” to work, including their faith, has led America’s best companies to expand their DEI initiatives to include faith-oriented ERGs and other faith-friendly initiatives. Such companies include American Airlines, American Express, Texas Instruments, Intel, Target, Tyson Foods, Google, Apple, Salesforce, Accenture, PayPal and Walmart.

The rationale for fostering these faith-oriented ERGs is summarized by an Intel executive: it positively impacts the three “Rs” of business: recruiting, retention and revenue – the ability to attract and retain diverse talent, get that talent fully engaged, which leads to enhanced innovation & productivity.

As companies globalize, having employees who understand how faith and belief are manifest in private and public life helps avoid costly missteps and helps better tailor products and services to customer needs, which is core to being competitive in a global economy where religious populations are outgrowing nonreligious populations 23-to-1, according to Pew Research.

To be competitive in today’s and tomorrow’s marketplaces, companies need tap into the full identity, strength and potential of their employees by including religion as a full-fledged part of their DEI commitments.

To learn more, join us for the 2nd National Faith@Work ERG Conference!

Join us Feb. 9-11, 2021, as we bring together representatives of Fortune 500 companies who are members of faith-and-belief employees resource groups (ERGs). The conference supports the growing movement of top companies that are making their workplaces religiously inclusive.

It also is a national convening point for workplace chaplain and those interested in ethics and technology/AI.

The Faith@Work ERG Conference hosted by the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation and the Busch School of Business at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, will be live, but held virtually.

The 2021 Faith@Work program is being continually updated and builds on the 2020 Faith@Work conference at Catholic University’s Busch School of Business in Washington, DC, cosponsored by American Airlines and Tyson Foods, and the 2019 Faith@Work conference at the corporate HQ of Texas Instruments in Dallas, TX, all cosponsored with the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation.

Save 25% using the Early Bird registration codeEB2020

Juliet Funt to Keynote National Faith@Work Conference

21 Dec, 2020

IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Juliet Funt, WhiteSpace at Work CEO, Global Keynote Speaker and Fortune 500 Advisor, to Keynote 2nd Annual National Faith@Work ERG Conference

How to unburden talent from low-value busywork and unleash their full potential

In partnership with the Global Leadership Network, the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RFBF) is pleased to announce that in-demand corporate speaker Juliet Funt,  founder and CEO of WhiteSpace at Work, will deliver a high-energy, content-rich keynote on how to thrive in the Age of Overload in which we all live and work.

“It is an honor to have Juliet Funt, daughter of Candid Camera’s Allen Funt, speak at a time when the pandemic has blurred the boundary between work and home more than ever,” said RFBF President Brian Grim. Indeed, Juliet is just what the doctor ordered for a time like this. She was born with fun in her blood. She’s a high-energy, hilarious motivational keynote speaker who helps audiences crack the code of the Culture of Insatiability—where nothing we do is ever enough.

A warrior against busyness in the modern workplace that saps our creativity, productivity and engagement, Funt is a force for change in organizations around the world. She empowers overwhelmed leaders and employees to redefine their definition of productivity, revamp their workflows and reclaim “WhiteSpace” — strategic pausing and thinking time — that is essential for high performance.

Through speaking, training and consulting, Funt is an evangelist for unburdening talent from low-value busywork and unleashing their full potential. She has worked with major international organizations such as Spotify, In-N-Out Burger, National Geographic, Anthem, Abbott, American Express, P&G, Costco, Pepsi, Nike, Wells Fargo, Sephora, Sysco, Hershey’s, Hyatt and ESPN.

Funt is a charismatic keynote speaker who activates audiences to make real, lasting change. She’s spoken at many premiere industry-leading associations and events globally with impressive lineups of luminaries such as Simon Sinek, Marcus Buckingham, Seth Godin and Condoleezza Rice.

Funt’s 2017 address to the Global Leadership Summit, the largest leadership event in the world that streams to 400,000 people from more than 123 countries, was one of the highest rated talks of the event. She has also delivered a keynote address for Leadercast, which live streams to 85,000 leaders, and the Nordic Business Forum in Finland, with a live English-speaking audience of 7,500 and a streamed audience of 30,000.

To hear Juliet, register today for the 2nd National Faith@Work ERG Conference, taking place virtually this year, Feb. 9-11, 2021.


EEOC General Counsel Sharon Gustafson to Keynote National Faith@Work Conference

16 Dec, 2020

IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 16, 2020 | Washington DC

Sharon Fast Gustafson, General Counsel of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), will deliver a keynote presentation at the 2nd annual National Faith@Work ERG Conference, Feb. 9-11, 2021. The conference – to be held virtually – brings together representatives of Fortune 500 companies who are members of faith-and-belief employee resource groups (ERGs).  It also is a national convening point for workplace chaplains and corporate leaders interested in ethical leadership. (Conference registration opens week of Dec. 21.)

“We are honored to have General Counsel Gustafson participate in the Faith@Work conference as a strong advocate for nondiscrimination on the basis of religion in America’s workplaces. It is a wonderful opportunity for companies to hear directly from the EEOC General Counsel on how religious nondiscrimination and accommodation is integral to the success of American workplaces,” said Dr. Brian Grim, president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation.

The conference is co-sponsored by the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation and the Busch School of Business at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC to support the growing movement of top companies that are adopting faith-friendly policies that make their workplaces religiously inclusive. The 2021 program builds on the 2020 Faith@Work conference at the Busch School of Business in Washington, D.C., co-sponsored by American Airlines and Tyson Foods, and on the 2019 Faith@Work conference at the corporate HQ of Texas Instruments in Dallas, both cosponsored with the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation.

During the conference, the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation will release its annual Corporate Religious Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (REDI) Index, which benchmarks the state of corporate America’s inclusion of religion as an integral part of its diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. The 2021 REDI Index will report on faith inclusion in Fortune 200 companies.

Gustafson was confirmed as EEOC General Counsel by the U.S. Senate on August 1, 2019 for a term ending in 2023. She is the first woman to serve as General Counsel at the EEOC. Gustafson has practiced employment law for 29 years. She earned her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, cum laude, and began her legal career in the labor and employment law group at Jones Day in Washington, D.C., where she practiced for four years. Prior to joining the EEOC, Gustafson advised and represented both employees and employers in employment-related legal matters as a solo practitioner in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Other featured speakers include Alison Taylor, Chief Customer Officer at American Airlines; Juliet Funt, Founder and CEO, WhiteSpace At Work; and Sumreen Ahmad, Accenture’s Global Change Management Lead.

Press Inquiries, contact:

Religious Freedom & Business Foundation: or 410-268-7809

EEOC Office of Communications: or 202-663-4191


Give Life a Chance – Part two of a personal reflection on suicidal ideation

7 Dec, 2020

Steve Hitz is a co-founder of Launching Leaders Worldwide, a partner of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation. Launching Leaders has engaged participants in 36 countries on six continents through a faith-based personal leadership curriculum which empowers participants everywhere. 

In a previous article I reported that despite all of my research and writing about anxiety, depression, and related issues that affect so many, it wasn’t enough to save my 39-year-old son from succumbing to these demons and taking his own life.  Skyler died in August, but he continues to live within us.

I have now stopped trying to figure out so much “Why” he decided to take the fatal step. Rather, I have continued my research and have been reading his journal entries that tell a deeper story.

Recently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 40 percent of U.S. adults 18 and older reported struggling with mental health or substance abuse—three times that affected one year earlier.  Both anxiety and depression symptoms have increased dramatically.

Across the globe this has brought with it both short- and long-term mental health implications.  This vulnerability is especially visible in those quarantined and underprivileged. Indeed, COVID 19 targets anyone in its path.

Let me give two ideas from both science and Skyler’s journals that will assist in diminishing suicide ideation.

Idea One:  Equality and the Mindset of Money

In studies by Johann Hari (Lost Connections) and Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson (The Spirit Level), they found that the more unequal the society, the more prevalent were all forms of mental illness.  They cited examples in the United States, where society has huge gaps in income and status, and compared that to Norway, where highly equal society results in much less mental illness, including depression and anxiety.  So much has the gap of equality widened, that it used to be that your boss would earn twenty times more than the average worker. Today, it’s three hundred times more. My purpose isn’t to unpack social justice, but to make a point that equality and status have an impact on mental illness.

In a revealing parallel, the millennial and younger generations have pushed back against the idea that wealth equals success.  It is these generations that are currently suffering the most from mental health challenges. So it follows that if an unequal society brings with it issues of diminished self-worth, anxiety, and depression, then a better mind-set should be developed to deal with this.

My millennial-aged son Skyler and his wife took a wonderful two-month trip to Europe in 2012.  They lived out of backpacks, enjoying what life brought their way as they traveled several countries.  Skyler had an epiphany during this time that is noteworthy for all of us. He said:

“I’ve depleted most of my checking account to see and experience these places with my wife.  Throughout my travels I’ve been able to learn much. We’ve traveled as cheaply as we could, but it’s still quite expensive.  The funny thing is, my relationship with money has changed in a way I never anticipated it would.  I’ve finally become detached from my money.  The feeling to horde my money is now gone.  I’ve learned that money is a tool and that is all.  It is used to buy food for sustenance, to help others when you are able to, to use to gain experiences that cannot be had without it.  I’ve never had a hard time paying for needs and occasional wants.  However, using money for new and enlightening experiences did not come to me naturally.  It was very difficult for me to pull the trigger….the turning point came in the middle of the reservation office at the Basel SBB train station.  Turning over my credit card for two months of train passes I broke into a cold sweat.  I gave the attendant my card and began to rock back and forth like a total certifiable crazy person.  A panic attack on a level I had never experienced.  Gone!  Thousands of dollars gone with the swipe of a mean travel agent’s chubby hand.”

He went on to say, “Clearly, my relationship with money was not healthy.  I can say my mindset is still about frugality and it will always be so.  A fool and his money are soon parted. To not be wise with my money would be sad and wouldn’t be right.  However, no amount of money can replace experiences.”

My son’s comments on money were also captured in my book Launching Leaders – An Empowering Journey for a New Generation.  In the chapter on financial fitness, he said this of millennials and money: “Most of us don’t view ourselves as entitled, but rather as people for whom being treated like an equal is of the utmost importance.  It’s telling that, in a technologically advanced world, millennials would rather trade their time and money to have meaningful experiences—-than for big homes and fancy cars.”

Why is this important?  The idea of equality and the true meaning of money go hand in hand.  When self-worth is not based on status or money, then it’s harder to go to the dark places of self-pity and a feeling of worthlessness, bringing on the dark clouds of depression and anxiety.  Much can be unpacked in Skyler’s statements; but rather than me doing the unpacking, it’s up to the reader to ponder and pull the nuggets out that really are life changing.

Idea Two: Take a Hike

Isabel Behncke, a renowned evolutionary biologist operating out of Oxford University, spent her life studying the “nature of human nature.”  She spent much of her life roaming the earth in nature, observing and learning from our evolutionary ancestors and cousins. When compiling her research at Oxford, shut inside all day, she found herself depressed for the first time in her life.  She couldn’t sleep or focus.  She began to think of the caged bonobos she observed who were depressed in their unnatural surroundings and wondered if her own experience being shut in was equivalent.

Her experiences led other scientists from the University of Essex to study the effects of mental health while being cut off from the natural world (see The Spirit Level).  They tracked the mental health of over five thousand households for three years.  They studied those who moved into more rural green areas, and those who moved from the rural green areas to the city.  Their studies revealed what you might expect, that those who moved into rural green areas from the city, saw a big reduction in depression.  Those who moved away from green areas saw an increase in depression.  In their studies, they had those who moved into the city from green rural areas take a nature walk every day and then tested their mood and concentration.  Predictably, they were all able to concentrate more.  However, those who experience depression and were committed to this nature walk regiment, improved five times more than those who didn’t.

Similarly, Isabel’s studies revealed that exercise significantly reduces depression and anxiety.  People who run indoors on treadmills experience a reduction in depression, but not as much as those who run in nature.

If you are like me, these studies were somewhat unsurprising, but the depth of the studies impressed me and were even more convincing than my own undocumented opinion.  Now enter the world of COVID, where more people are shut in, either by choice or mandate, there is a connection with depression and anxiety we can’t ignore.

After our son’s death, my family and I have had to deal with different ways of healing.  One of the first “doctor’s orders” for one of my daughters was to take a nature walk every day.  I take a 30 minute outdoor “prayer walk” each day.  These simple acts invigorate the mind and soul.  They are great remedies to help our healing and reduce anxiety and depression.

When Skyler was in Europe, his home base was a family in Switzerland.  There he observed a couple in their 70’s, whose vibrant life at their age impressed him.  He discovered and adopted certain routines and guidelines.  He would take a walk in the countryside each day and listen to the cow bells. He noticed the elderly couple paid little attention to TV, but devoted their time to hikes, gardening, reading, playing games and visiting. Perhaps our world of NOW has diminished many of these routines that are simply good for the soul.

On a Launching Leaders trip to Manchester, England, we held an interfaith event at Manchester University’s Catholic Chaplaincy.  One evening as we gathered around an outdoor fire and pizza oven, we witnessed amazing stories and bantering by our Catholic priest friends, Father Tim and Father William.  Father William’s sister was there, complaining about how Father William always lived in the past.  To which he gave the most timeless reply in his Scottish brogue “I do not live in the past, the past lives in me.”  So it is with our sweet son.  He continues to live in us, and I hope the lessons he is teaching us even today will help shape our lives for the better.

I’ll continue this series with more lessons Skyler has taught us, drilling down into how reading, time management, and observations of others build strong defenses to battle mental health issues and assuage thoughts of suicide ideation.

Convincing Your Company to Support Faith at Work: 20 Tips on Preparing an Effective Pitch

3 Dec, 2020

by Sue Warnke (via her Leanership blog)

Most companies are nervous about faith at work. They imagine worst-case scenarios: Will employees proselytize and make an uncomfortable work environment for others? What if religious views conflict with our core values or other diversity groups? If we allow one faith group, what about the 15 other faith groups that might pop up after that? How would we support them all? What if the largest faith dominates, making smaller faiths feel overshadowed? What if employees argue over theology? Will we lose trust with customers that don’t support faith in the workplace?

These are legitimate concerns. And they deserve to be heard. That’s where you come in.

Convincing your company to allow faith in the workplace begins with empathy. Our company leaders are in a tough spot. Faith at work is still new, with only about 20% of Fortune 100 companies overtly supporting faith at work. But the movement is increasing quickly, and companies will have to address it sooner or later. And only when your leaders feel heard will they be open to your data — data showing that the benefits of allowing faith in the workplace overwhelmingly outweigh the risks, that the risks are easy to mitigate with the proper protocols, and that blocking faith at work leads to far worse consequences, like employee attrition, reduced productivity, reduced sales, and even litigation.

Whether companies are ready or not, the time has come to begin the discussion. And if you want to be part of that transformation, you’ll need an effective pitch. Here are 20 best practices I’ve gathered from over four years of helping my company and dozens of others start effective faith groups.

See Sue Warnke’s blog for the 20 tips:

20 Best Practices for Pitching a Faith Group at work