Working for workplace religious diversity, equity & inclusion


When a Company’s Public Positions are in Tension with Employees’ Beliefs

30 Apr, 2022

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

A contribution to the “How to Engage Faith & Belief at Work” section in the Blog Series Authenticity & Connection

Especially in this age of social media, diverse employees passionately hold a wide range of views on public policy and legislative issues. So, when a company takes a public position on a particular broad social cause outside the scope of normal business operations, some employees may be disappointed while others may applaud. The matter becomes especially personal when the issue touches employees’ core faith and beliefs.

The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation* has some helpful guidelines for navigating these tensions. Our premise is that the workplace offers forums for civil discourse in which people can lean against larger social trends toward division, fear and rancor. While it’s impossible to please everyone in a diverse community, our workplaces can be arena where people can find ways to disagree and yet respect, value and even love one another.

We hope you’ll plan to join us in person for the third annual Religious Freedom & Business Foundation conference, May 23–25 in Washington, DC, where experts will engage the audience in a provocative and insightful discussion of this important topic.

Among other things, at the conference we’ll discuss the general legal landscape and then delve into proven strategies for navigating these tensions. We’ll talk about how to plan in advance, how to weigh the effect that the company’s public position may have on various stakeholders (including the possible effect on recruitment and retention, among other things), the helpful role that can be played by representatives from faith-oriented employee resource groups, the importance of establishing a clear policy on religious freedom, and available resources on this gripping topic.

This session is not intended to discourage companies from taking public positions on matters of importance to the larger community (though sometimes, the process may lead to a company choice not to have the company speak on a particular issue). It simply seeks to help companies engage broad social issues in a sensitive way.

We’ll include an opportunity for Q&A and comment from attendees, shepherded by Dr. Johnny Parker, a noted facilitator of “Courageous Conversations.”

It will be an especially practical and useful session. We can’t wait to see you there. You can register to attend here.

* The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RFBF) is a non-partisan, nonpolitical, multi-faith registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization in the United States with work worldwide. It does not take a position on current political debates. See our Guide to Religion in the Workplace here.