by Kent Johnson, J.D., Senior Corporate Advisor, Religious Freedom & Business Foundation
Part of the blog series, Authenticity & Connection
Faith-oriented ERGs provide terrific avenues for employees to connect with, to pray and worship with, and to draw inspiration and encouragement from people of like faith. By officially acknowledging faith as an integral part of diversity, a company sends a powerful message: That people of various faiths are valued for who they truly are. Employees need not go “under cover” with their particular faith. They can truly “be themselves” at work.
If this was all that faith-oriented ERGs accomplished, it’d be worth the effort. But there’s more. In nearly all companies, these ERGs also serve as significant bridge-builders — channels of connection and collaboration across faiths. They accomplish this unifying and reconciling role in ways that do not dilute or compromise participants’ personal commitments.
Both roles can be positively transformative.
One of the many terrific panels at the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s 2021 Faith@Work ERG Conference was entitled “Why set up an ERG? Because my colleagues’ beliefs matter to me.” Diverse speakers from SAP, PayPal and Dell Technologies shared how connections across religious traditions have enriched their work lives and helped them live out their respective faiths more authentically. Their personal stories and experience included:
- — Becoming “visible” to one another; learning what colleagues consider their core identity
- — Dispelling myths and defusing fears about various faiths
- — Promoting authenticity
- — Learning of various faith-rooted holidays, festivals and commemorative times
- — Engaging other worldviews
- — Reaching significant depth of mutual understanding
- — Strengthening mutual respect, without compromising their own faith
- — Transcending polarization
- — Becoming better colleagues and better friends
- — NOT feeling weird
Below you can watch the speakers speak firsthand about how it’s playing out in their companies.
Near the end of this panel discussion, it’s noted that the societal impact of these ERGs extends far beyond the companies’ walls. It reaches worldwide. This really MATTERS.
If your company hasn’t yet embraced faith as part of its diversity focus, consider prompting it. Those who have done this can help. The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation is also a wealth of knowledge and experience. We hope you’ll consider it.