Working for workplace religious diversity, equity & inclusion


Monthly Archives: March 2022

Workshop: Faith and Belief at Work: A Liability or an Asset? What the Fortune 100 Companies Think!

31 Mar, 2022

The Forum on Workplace Inclusion® 34th Annual Conference “Solving for X: Tackling Inequities in a World of Unknowns” Registration Now Open

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — The Forum on Workplace Inclusion® (The Forum) at Augsburg University has opened registration for its 34th annual conference “Solving for X: Tackling Inequities in a World of Unknowns.” The Forum’s annual conference will take place on April 5 – 7, 2022. This year’s conference will be entirely virtual through the online conference platform Pathable.

On April 6, at 12:45-2:15 PM, the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s Brian Grim and Paul Lambert will lead the workshop Faith and Belief at Work: A Liability or an Asset? What the Fortune 100 Companies Think!

Whether agnostic, atheist, or religious, faith, belief, or conscience is the heart of every employee. Data shows that employees who feel free to live and work according to their core belief identity demonstrate higher levels of innovation, creativity, and loyalty to their organization. Many of the Fortune 100 companies have recognized this reality and are taking action to become more faith- and belief-friendly workplaces.

Through analytical skills practice, building knowledge necessary to operate in a belief-diverse context, and using examples from Fortune 100 companies that are leading the way, this session will enable participants to understand the components of an inclusive mindset and an accommodating workplace environment. Many struggle to know what faith and belief accommodation looks like for employees, but there are simple and cost-effective ways to accommodate.

The session will include interactive exercises and concrete tools for application in the workplace!

Learning Outcomes

• Comprehend how faith and belief of employees impact a workplace environment

• Identify and understand components of a workplace of accommodation regarding faith and belief

• Develop skills and techniques to counter workplace discrimination and encourage accommodation

Registration and fee required.

“Ordinary Workers” — Some Thoughts Sparked by a Marketplace Ministry for Microsoft (MMFM)’s March Wisdom Meeting

29 Mar, 2022

by Kent Johnson, J.D., Senior Corporate Advisor, Religious Freedom & Business Foundation

Part of the blog series, Authenticity & Connection (category: Who)

Off-the-cuff Q&A sessions with representatives of faith-based employee resource groups invariably spur profitable thought. A recent virtual event with people from Microsoft Corporation on “The Changing DEI Landscape” (see HERE) was no exception.

[The perspectives shared in the video are those of the individual participants and for general information, and not official statements of Microsoft; they are not intended as legal advice].

Today I’d like to focus and expand on just one of the questions raised in this session: the crucial role of what I’ll call “Ordinary Workers.”

Julia Oltmanns (Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Services at Zurich Resilience Solutions) and I shared real-life stories of how (and why) faith-oriented Employee Resource Groups are springing up in more and more companies. Leadership is a big factor. It’s important that the organization’s top leaders clearly communicate that they believe their employee’s core personal principles and beliefs are relevant to the company’s mission and vision, and that they want their people to bring their whole selves, faith and all, to work. A bold, principled HR Department also helps. But more is needed. The real catalyst of breakthrough connections, and the engine for the faith at work movement, is the “ORDINARY” WORKER.

I’ve written about The Power of “Ordinary” Workers Applying their Core Beliefs (HERE) in a blog focused on ethics and legal compliance. Today I’ll focus on what some might consider “softer” things; but considerations which can have huge significance for both the organization and the individuals. In so doing I’ll build on specific points made in the session with Microsoft.

A particularly poignant TED talk titled “Everyday Leadership” by Drew Dudley (HERE) illustrates this point about ordinary interactions among ordinary people. Drew tells how he learned after the fact that, in a seemingly trivial, fleeting gesture, it turned out that he profoundly impacted the trajectory of life for someone at his college. His story grippingly illustrates the fact that we never really know the impact we ordinary people may be having as we navigate simple interactions in everyday life. Our action need not involve a courageous spiritual stand to have powerful positive effect.

“Everyday Leadership (The Lollipop Moment),” was voted one of the 15 most inspirational TED talks of all time, and one of the top seven talks to make you a better leader, according to Business Insider.

Who makes Corporate Culture? I’d submit that the fabric of mutual trust, respect and warmth is woven stitch by stitch, day by day, in myriad person-to-person interactions by “ordinary workers” up and down the reporting chain. Vocal support from the C-Suite is wonderful; but the real work of culture takes place in the engagement of relationships in the context of teamwork, among people of diverse faiths and beliefs. It’s in that everyday, grassroots sphere that authentic connection and reconciliation can emerge.

Some worry that giving leeway to people of faith at work might spawn expressions of bigotry and hatred, as “religious people” try to push their beliefs on unwilling coworkers. Doesn’t freedom of religion and belief (FoRB) lead to conflict? The answer is no. Our experience with scores of multinational companies that have set the stage for civility and mutual respect is the exact opposite. Sure, there are occasional clinkers, but they’re very rare. The fears are way overblown.

FoRB is a far wider principle than ‘just” freedom to express one’s theology (though it includes that). When we say that our employees’ faith and beliefs MATTER and are relevant and welcome at the company, we cannot mean that their theologies are all equivalent or equally valid. Rather, we’re saying that they’re helpful to facilitate authentic, trusting interpersonal connections and friendships that benefit the workplace. Many theological claims are mutually exclusive. What we are saying is that FoRB is not only (or even primarily) about people expressing their diverse core principles and beliefs. If the focus is first and primarily on convincing others that the speaker is right about certain spiritual things – and that “they” are wrong – we’ll fail to truly connect and understand one another; and possibilities for meaningful connections will be derailed.

Rather, true FoRB entails a culture that promotes listening, deeply, to those with whom one may disagree significantly; and respecting and valuing the other person as a human being even when fundamental disagreement remains. It entails treating others as we ourselves would like to be treated.

My main point with this column is that a title of President or Vice President is not needed in order to have significant positive impact. These are complex and weighty topics and multi-faceted relationships, but they’re not beyond the capabilities of our people. Profound connections and reconciliations are being effectuated in workplaces among “ordinary” workers today. They’re weaving a fabric of civility that’s profound and, I’d argue, world-changing.

Skeptics: THANK YOU for reading this far. If you’re still apprehensive about unleashing FoRB in your workplace, I’d ask you to step back and observe some of the Ordinary Workers who are profoundly engaging across the spectrum of beliefs in companies that embrace this principle. You’ll be surprised. Even after all I’ve seen, I’m amazed and deeply encouraged every time I observe what’s going on in companies like Microsoft, Intel, American Airlines, Texas Instruments and Zurich. It’s possible. And it’s happening today among Ordinary Workers.

IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Grim joins The Denim Club: Group of 100 He-for-She Global Champions

25 Mar, 2022

IMMEDIATE RELEASE: New Delhi & Bangalore

Lakshmy Shankar, G100 Global Chair of Business Networking, welcomes G100 Denim Club partner & inspiring leader, Brian Grim, President, Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, Global Chairman, Dare to Overcome, USA, as the partner for Business Networking. Brian works with Fortune 100 companies to help them implement programs that include religion as part of their overall diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. He also is executive director of the International Religious Freedom & Business Roundtable, which helps build religious freedom for everyone worldwide.

What is G100 ?

G100 is an influential group of 100 women leaders from across the world, in 100 wings and sectors, supported by 100 eminent He for She champions, and 100 country clubs in each wing for powerful advocacy, awareness & impact across governments and global organizations for a gender equal future in this decade.


G100 is also supported by The Denim Club : Group of 100 He-for-She Champions globally, comprising leaders and luminaries from the business, corporate and political domains, each leading a sector of influence and having their companies and institutions in support of gender parity and equality. They will advocate for gender equity and balance, mitigate barriers to women’s leadership, commit to women’s greater C-suite representation, and fuel funding for female founders.

Why ‘Denim’ ? Because it’s symbolic of our common ground. While men may be from Mars and women from Venus; and while girls may grow with pink and boys with blue, denim belongs to all of us equally as a place of comfort for cool and candid conversations. The sturdy denim stands for the solid dialogue between genders and the strength of solidarity that we aspire for. Together we can co-create a better, balanced world for All.

The G100 Global Chair along with the G100 Denim Club Partner develop together for their G100 Wing policy recommendations to governments and multilateral institutions worldwide. The far-reaching impact will energize a million women by 2022, and 5 million by 2025.

Together, in joint collaboration and co-creation, we are committed to join our forces and strengths for a better world toward defining, designing and determining a new future for ourselves with equity, equal opportunity, inclusion and economic empowerment of women, and of all, through the inclusive agency of women, supported by men champions.

Membership to G100 and Denim Club is free and by invitation only. The endeavors are non-political, non-religious and non-dogmatic.

We are co-creating a bold and beautiful model of working together in shared vision and aligned actions with gender respect, balance and parity. Our stellar example of solidarity is a shining testimony to the power of women and men walking together in purpose and mutual empowerment for the greater good of a more sustainable, balanced, progressive and peaceful world for all.

Meeting G100 Leader Dr. Harbeen Arora Rai and Vinay Rai, Author of Think India

25 Mar, 2022

by Brian Grim

On Thursday, March 24, I had the pleasure of having a lunch meeting with Dr. Harbeen Arora Rai and Mr. Vinay Rai at The Imperial in New Delhi.

Dr. Harbeen Arora Rai leads the G100, an action + think tank comprising a league of powerful group of women leaders and achievers from all walks of life who wish to give back and move us all forward as architects of the future. These include Nobel Laureates, former Heads of States, Ministers, Businesswomen, Philanthropists, Investors, Entrepreneurs, Corporate and Community Leaders.

The G100 is also supported by The Denim Club: Group of 100 He-for-She Global Champions, of which I am a member.

Mr. Vinay Rai is author of THINK INDIA: The Rise of the World’s Next Superpower and What It Means for Every American. THINK INDIA is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand India’s new muscle on the global stage. In THINK INDIA, best-selling author William L. Simon combines with Vinay Rai, a philanthropist, and an icon of progress in India, to give an insider’s view into the country’s dynamic transformation, revealing the forces and unique characteristics behind India’s meteoric rise.


A Visit to Kochi Helps Make Sense of Data on Religion in India

23 Mar, 2022

by Brian Grim

I’m in the final three days of my 18-day trip to India, preparing for Dare to Overcome 2023, which will be held in New Delhi in tandem with the G20 meetings hosted by India.

Yesterday I visited Kochi, Kerala, on India’s southwest coast. I visited the Paradesi Synagogue, which was established hundreds of years before, and shares a wall with a Hindu temple. In fact, some Jewish communities in India trace their lineage back to the time of King Solomon. Kochi is also where the Apostle Thomas came soon after the time of Christ in outreach to these Jewish communities. Indeed, the synagogue is very close to several of the most important Catholic churches in Kerala, with communities dating back to the time of Christ.

A recent Pew Research Center survey found that most people (84%) say that to be “truly Indian,” it is very important to respect all religions (see chart). Indians also are united in the view that respecting other religions is a very important part of what it means to be a member of their own religious community (80%). People in all six major religious groups overwhelmingly say they are very free to practice their faiths, and vast majority (91%) say that people of other faiths also are very free to practice their own religion.

Seeing the ancient heritage of such communities in India, helps understand the findings from a recent Pew Research Center poll (see below), which found that a number of religious beliefs and practices are share across religious groups in India.

Intel India VPs Receive Award on Behalf of CEO Pat Gelsinger and EVP Sandra Rivera

22 Mar, 2022

Mar. 21, 2022: Bangalore, India

Intel Corporation’s CEO Pat Gelsinger and EVP Sandra Rivera received the 2021 Global Business & Interfaith Peace Gold Medal for their work in making Intel’s workplaces worldwide inclusive and welcoming for people of all faiths and beliefs. Due to covid, they were not able to receive their gold medals in person, but only in a virtual ceremony broadcasted from Tokyo, Japan, and Washington, DC, on August 24, 2021.

Today, two vice presidents from Intel India received the medals on their behalf: Anita Vijaykrishnan, VP / GM Enterprise Operations, and Sumedha Limaye, Vice President of Engineering, Xeon & Networking.

“We thank the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation and the United Nations Global Compact for recognizing Intel. It’s our honour to accept this award on behalf of Pat and Sandra,” said Sumedha and Anita. “Bringing our authentic self to work resonates with every Intel employee globally. There is more encouragement to realize your strengths and potential when the environment supports diversity of thought and expression.”

Brian Grim, president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, expressed his appreciation for their willingness to receive the award and congratulated them on their strong support for diversity and inclusion. Grim previously delivered the Silver Medal to John Tyson at their headquarters in Arkansas, and other 2021 recipients will receive their medals in Washinton DC on May 24, 2022, at Dare to Overcome.

Dare to Overcome is the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s annual in-person gathering for Fortune 500 faith-oriented employee resource groups (ERGs) and corporate chaplains to come together to share best practices and to build supportive, intersecting networks nationally and globally at the three-day event. All faiths and beliefs are welcome.

In 2023, Dare to Overcome will be held in New Delhi, India.

India: RFBF and India’s MIT Peace University sign agreement to study socio-economic impact of religion and religious pluralism in India

17 Mar, 2022

Pune, India. March 17, 2022

Dr. Rahul Vishwanath Karad, Executive President, of the MIT (Maharashtra Institute Of Technology) World Peace University and RFBF President Brian Grim signed a years-long joint research agreement today at their university of 60,000 students, including 20,000 graduate students.

The aim of the research is to study and report on the socio-economic impact of India’s rich religious pluralism. This includes looking at the contributions of the Hindu majority as well as India’s diverse faiths, including Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, and many others.

This builds on similar studies the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation has done in the US and Canada. India is the next logical country to study, given that it is both the rising economy of the 21st century and the most religiously dynamic country on earth.

Dr. Karad celebrated the interdisciplinary nature of the research, involving the economics, business, religion and government departments of MIT World Peace University. He also emphasized that this research has never been done in India and how this will advance to India’s inclusive and pluralistic society.

The findings will be presented in 2023 in New Delhi during the G20 Meeting hosted by India as well as presented in Pune at a tandem interfaith forum.

Brian Grim meets with India’s Cardinal Archbishop of Bombay

16 Mar, 2022


On March 15, RFBF President Dr. Brian Grim was received by Oswald Cardinal Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.

Dr Brian Grim and Cardinal Gracias discussed the new developments among some of the world’s top companies to become faith-friendly. These include companies as diverse as Google, DELL Technologies, American Airlines, Coca Cola Consolidated, PayPal, Tyson Foods, Equinix, Ford Motor Company and Tyson Foods.

They also discussed the invitation of Indian Prime Minister Modi to Pope Francis to visit India.

Attending the meeting was Dr. Rahul Vishwanath Karad, Managing Trustee & Executive President, of the MIT (Maharashtra Institute Of Technology) World Peace University. Dr. Karad invited the Cardinal to come to the university in Pune, to address the faculty and students on his philosophy and perspectives on faith’s application to education, technology and society.

King Husein, CEO of Span Construction (USA) and a 2021 Global Business & Interfaith Peace Gold Medalists and Ashok Joshi, tech entrepreneur and philanthropist, also attended, sharing about their work with MIT Peace University and it’s commitment to interfaith collaboration and support for all religious communities in India.

Now is the time to increase global efforts

12 Mar, 2022

Putin over my shoulder

by Brian Grim

Flying above the globe, I realized that the deranged ambition of the man over my shoulder in the 2014 picture above (Putin) has unleashed what could spiral into WWIII. My flight was nonstop from New York to New Delhi, across Europe and the Black Sea, south of Ukraine and Russia and onwards to the Caspian Sea, then over Afghanistan and Pakistan. And if you missed it, a misfired Indian missile had just flown into Pakistan the day before (we did zigzag near the end).

The picture at the top was of the Q&A with faculty following my 2014 talk on the socio-economic benefits of religious freedom in dialogue with the rector (president) of Russia’s National Nuclear University (MEPhI). MEPhI had just launched a Theology Department and opened a chapel for students, aiming to encourage them to apply faith and ethics to their professional and scientific lives (see RFBF Press Release and MEPhI Press in Russian or English translation.)

As we deplore Putin’s war and stand with Ukraine’s people, I also mourn for the oppression of the people in Russia who sought, even in the unlikely place of a nuclear university, to introduce free thought and open the door for religious freedom.

It is for those who have lost their voice — wherever they are on our small globe — that I dedicate my work. Freedom of religion and belief for all is definitely an antidote to what ails society when put to practice through Covenantal Pluralism. Now is the time to increase our efforts; please consider getting involved!

Brazil: Religious Freedom and Peace March 17 (Portuguese)

11 Mar, 2022

On March 17, at 4:30pm (Sao Paulo, Brazil time), the civil society committee meeting in support of the Parliamentary Front in Defense of Religious Freedom of the Legislative Assembly of the State of São Paulo will take place.

Watch on YouTube here.

Renahan Gil, from the Institute for Economics and Peace, will speak about Positive Peace as a Pillar of Development.

Fabio Nascimento, from Religious Freedom and Business Foundation Brazil, will present on how Religious Freedom is good for Business.

Renahan Gil is a professional with more than 15 years of experience in consulting, always looking for effective solutions to current and future problems of societies and nations. He was advisor to Brazilian delegations at the High Level Political Forum at United Nations Headquarters, and today he supports governments, the private sector and civil society in understanding the benefits of having a common and well-integrated development agenda.

Fabio Nascimento is a lawyer, member of the International Committee of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society. He was a member of the National Committee for Respect for Religious Diversity of the Secretariat for Human Rights of the Presidency of the Republic. He chaired the OAB Criciúma Law and Religious Liberty Commission and was legal coordinator in Brazil for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.