Working for workplace religious diversity, equity & inclusion


Monthly Archives: June 2022

Religion & Addiction Recovery

28 Jun, 2022

How Faith is Indispensable in Preventing and Recovering from Substance Abuse

Key findings from a Faith Counts study by Brian J Grim, Ph.D. and Melissa Grim, J.D., MTS

  • — Faith Reduces Risk, Helps Long-Term Recovery, Saves Lives
  • — Provides $316 billion annually in savings to U.S. economy
  • — Authors Warn that Declining Religiosity is National Health Concern 
  • — Perception that Religion Can’t Answer Today’s Problems Don’t Match Reality

A recent study authored by father-daughter research duo, Brian & Melissa Grim, and published in the Journal of Religion and Health looks at the role of religious and spiritual faith in preventing and recovering from substance use disorder.

On Friday, July 1, Brian will share findings from the recent study he and Melissa conducted on the social and economic value faith plays in addiction recovery. Also participating are Rabbi Igael “Iggy” Gurin-Malous (T’Shuvah Center) and Dr. Amer Raheemullah, MD (Stanford Univ./Medina House).

Venue: Tanenbaum’s upcoming Conscientious Care Conversation, An Examination of Religion and Addiction, on July 1, 2022, at 12:00 pm ET. This webinar will examine the intersections of religion, substance use disorders, and the recovery process. We will explore the ways religious and spiritual affiliations can be both a help and a hindrance to those living with and recovering from substance use disorders.

To join the conversation, register using this Zoom link.

Civil Discourse and Personal Connection in the wake of US Supreme Court Decisions

28 Jun, 2022

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

Part of the blog series, Authenticity & ConnectionHope

“Civil discourse” doesn’t spring to mind in the wake of recent Supreme Court decisions on prayer and abortion. Instead, regardless of what “side” one takes on the issues, we’re being taunted and shoved into fights and power plays.

Humanity is better than this.

I see two counterproductive reactions to the decisions on abortion and prayer: First is the tendency to vilify and disengage from those who disagree. Second is the tendency to invoke political power plays in order to impose one’s way at others’ expense. Both spawn resentment, anger, and cynicism about the judicial process, and toward each other.

Corporations Are Promoting Civil Discourse From Within

Today, I believe business is in a position to light a path to a better way. The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation has illustrated how companies are increasingly adopting religion and belief as an integral part of their “diversity, equity and inclusion” focus. These companies acknowledge significant differences in worldview and theology yet promote deep connection and civil discourse. Companies like those at the top of the REDI Index have shown it’s possible. It’s happening. And it’s transformative. (See these posts for some examples.)

One of the key success factors behind the religious diversity movement is its emphasis on the dignity and worth of every human being, regardless of one’s belief or position on social issues. The fact of the matter is that we work day after day alongside people who embrace different beliefs and values. In a corporate culture that frowns on any discussion of faith and core belief, we might hope for a measure of peace and collaboration based on ignorance of the others’ views. But such a “peace” is fragile. It’s based on a fear that knowledge of coworkers’ different faiths and beliefs would inevitably cause damaging conflict. It ignores the fact that today, people tend to jump to conclusions and distrust one another based on even a hint of their contrary affiliations. More importantly, restrictive cultures like these send the message that the core beliefs that people consider central to their core identity are a liability at work. People’s core beliefs are presumed to be hateful. Their dignity and worth is disrespected.

Humans are better than this.

There’s a startling mystery being unveiled day after day in companies that embrace faith and belief as integral to their diversity programs. The mystery is that people can respect the dignity and worth of others without agreeing with them on specific core values and beliefs. Individuals need not compromise their beliefs in order to respect others, and to care deeply for others. They can listen deeply to those who differ. They can find common ground and navigate differences with civility and mutual respect. It’s happening.

I’m NOT saying that we should expect the workplace to be the forum for resolving all social issues. Many differences are substantive and intractable. And I’m NOT saying companies should goad people into debates on political and social issues. What I am saying is that the world should observe what’s happening increasingly in the workplaces of companies that embrace faith and belief. Civility and mutual respect cannot be achieved by force, or by media pronouncements of people who are disconnected from the other side. It’s possible in one-to-one personal relationships, day by day. Like those in our workplaces.

A final thought for readers who think this view is naïve. Perhaps you’re concerned that friendships with the “enemy” may enable them to force their way on society. Consistent with your core beliefs, I’d ask you to listen deeply to your colleague. Ask questions with the purpose and intent of helping you understand the other’s point of view. Consider whether, at the end of the day, this one-on-one relationship grounded on understanding and affection might produce more fertile ground for reconciliation than a relationship based on power.

This is civil discourse, step by step. It’s happening in our workplaces. Let’s encourage it.

Can We Protect Religious Freedom and LGBT Rights? 
Covenantal Pluralism is the key.

27 Jun, 2022

Religious belief and faith has a complicated relationship with LGBT concerns, yet one where covenantal pluralism provides the framework for mutual respect and lasting collaboration for the many concerns related to religious freedom and the unassailable nature of each individual human’s conscience.

The intention of this event is that divides may be bridged, relationships might be made or healed, and hope might prevail over fear. It is our hope that attendees may grow in understanding of each other and that our respective communities may find friendship, allyship, and kinship.

The evening will include featured remarks by special guest Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice.

Following Dr. Swett’s remarks will be an International Panel, with:

Simran Stuelpnagel, Vice Chairman of the International Religious Freedom (IRF) Secretariat and Chairman, Sikh FoRB. Simran is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in London and Senior Fellow at The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute.

Brian Grim, founder and president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation.

Edafe Okporo, Founder of Refuge America, author of Asylum and recipient of a MacArthur David Grant, 2020.

Greg Mitchell, Co-Chair of the IRF Roundtable and founder The Mitchell Firm & IRF Secretariat.

Rachel Miner, founder and CEO of Bellwether International.

Moderator, Aykan Erdemir, former member of the Turkish Parliament, a founding and steering group member of the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief.

After the international panel will be a Domestic Panel, with:

Tim Schultz, president, First Amendment Partnership and the former State Legislative Director for the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s American Religious Freedom Program.

Devan Patel, Counsel & Senior Director of Legal Affairs at American Unity Fund and former SBA President of Notre Dame School of Law.

Robin Fretwell Wilson, Professor, University of Illinois College of Law.

Michael Wear, Founder of Public Square Strategies and co-author of Compassion and Conviction: The AND Campaign’s Guide to Faithful Civic Engagement.

Moderator: Robert Raben, founder and president of the Raben Group, and former United States Assistant Attorney General under former President Bill Clinton.

Presented by: Bellwether International and Parity, with co-sponsors including: 1st Amendment Partnership, American Unity Fund, and The Raben Group

Religious Freedom & Business Films Make Headlines in Pakistan

25 Jun, 2022

The top three winners of the 2022 Religious Freedom & Business Film Competition hail from Pakistan. These films will be showcased next week at the 2nd annual IRF Summit in Washington DC. The awards are making news in Pakistan as they showcase the important ways that religious freedom and inclusion of people of all faiths tangibly contributes to economic opportunity and growth.

Click on the images to read and watch the coverage.

Repeat or Evolve – From Focus to Flow, Part Two

25 Jun, 2022

by Steven A Hitz. Steve is a co-founder of Launching Leaders Worldwide. Launching Leaders, a partner of Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, has engaged participants in 60 countries on six continents through a faith-based personal leadership curriculum which empowers participants everywhere. This is part of our ongoing blog series, Authenticity & Connection.

In part one of this two-part series, we learned a few steps to increase our focus and purpose in this world of information overload and multi-tasking. In part two, we will dive deeper into the mechanics and disciplines that extend our focus and purpose to a higher level.

The Psychology of Focus

When I left Wyoming to pursue other interests, my mother was distraught. She wanted me to stay on at the bentonite plant until I could be hired by the oil industry where my father and brother worked. In her mind, this was my destiny. I totally respect those who have worked hard in the oil fields, and for many families tied to this industry this is the path to success. This is what they know, and their world other options are not imaginable. At least, that was my mother’s way of thinking.

Many people follow a path of familiarity, because “it’s always been that way.” Traditions become truth, and sometimes these traditions can limit our ability to gain deeper truth and also limit our discovery of how to bring purpose and real joy into focus.

In the early 1980’s, the Harvard professor B.F. Skinner was famous for his study of human behavior. He found that you could train the focus and attention of animals by reinforcing behavior. If a pigeon lifted its wing, and the response was to feed it, that behavior would repeat itself if there was a reward. Skinner suggested that free will was an illusion, believing that human action was the result of conditioning. He believed what he learned from the animals could be transferred to human psychology.

In fact, this type of instant reinforcement is now used by social media companies whose users number in the billions, getting their instant rewards for their actions. But instant gratification and reward doesn’t always transfer to an ability to focus and think deeply. In fact it can subdue them.

Mihaly Csikszentmihaly came to America challenging Skinner, believing there had to be a more positive explanation to the psychology of behavior. In part of his study, he observed a group of painters in Chicago working on their paintings patiently for hours on end. He observed that creative people were not so interested in the rewards, but rather the outcome of their work was more important. He observed other groups of people in other activities that required long-term focus, like chess players and rock climbers. He discovered that focus was a result of “flow” and created the concept of “flow state.” This happens when a person becomes so absorbed in that which they are doing, it carries them forward with pleasure.

Mihaly discovered, not surprisingly, that distraction and multi-tasking kill flow. Flow can only be achieved through monotasking. Choosing this path of flow requires a clearly defined goal, with meaning to you behind the goal, and working to the edge of your ability. If the goal is too easy, we go on auto pilot, but if it’s too difficult, we become anxious and do not strike the balance of flow state. As we progress in our abilities, the edge of our abilities also moves forward, but we need to be in a flow state to get there. This pocket is a recognizable mental state where we become one with the task.

When I flew airplanes, I could have the controls in my hands and could feel every axis of the flying experience, or I could put the airplane on auto pilot. On autopilot, I would easily forget about the immediate tasks of flying; but it didn’t take me to the edge of my abilities. Interestingly, no pilot keeps the airplane on auto pilot all the way to the runway. At some point they must have had the experience of having the controls in their hands and knowing exactly how to absorb the conditions around them to fly safely to the ground. In this flow state I would become one with the airplane – a joyful experience.

The Skinner approach suggests rewards at each step of the process, but does not allow the space to enter deeper focus. The Mihaly approach allows the focus to be derived from the goal and passion, rather than the conditioning for results method of thinking. The Skinner theory rewarded learned behavior sometimes at the expense of focus, while the Mihaly theory discovered the pleasure and joy people experience during periods where focus is fully absorbed. This makes sense to me when I think of the few times my focus was so centered, I really did enter a new dimension and I evolved.

The challenge of our day centers on this question “How do I change my focus to that of a flow state, rather than a “click and switch” lifestyle”?

Here are three considerations to achieve a higher degree of focus and purpose:

1. Get your sleep. The National Sleep Foundation has found that 40 percent of Americans are chronically sleep deprived. Even during off hours and what would normally be sleeping hours, employers now commonly ask their employees to be accessible and expect them to respond to their devices like Pavlov’s dogs. Once the device goes “ding” and the screen comes to life, it takes another 20 minutes minimum for the senses to quiet themselves to achieve sleep.

A lack of sleep destroys the ability to focus, deprives one of creativity, and doesn’t allow one to enter the deepest sleep which heals and restores. You can’t cheat your way through lack of sleep with caffeine or other substances; these stimulants have their own set of damaging issues.

2. Learn to read again. Gallup found that 57 percent of Americans now don’t read a single book from cover to cover in a single year. Though I read around a hundred books a year – the real hold in your hands books – I find most of my friends either listen to books or read them on devices.

Apparently, the way we read books makes a difference. Johan Hari in his book Stolen Focus, interviewed Anne Mangen, a professor of literacy at the University of Stavanger in Norway who performed a two-decade study on this. She found that reading on screens causes us to read differently, with more tendency to skip and skim and not dive deep into the pleasurable immersion of reading from a book. Her research from fifty-four studies has labeled the difference as “screen inferiority,” which concludes that reading on screens diminishes understanding, retention, and the pleasure of reading. All told, it reduces our ability to focus.

3. Redefine Prosperity. Consider what prosperity means to you. We live in a world where financial wealth and growth is the litmus test for success. If the companies we work for do not grow, we don’t prosper. Financial wealth aside, If we don’t grow personally, we don’t prosper either. This is where the attention to improving our focus comes in. In my view, real prosperity isn’t the balance in your checking account (though that can help), rather, it’s the measure of your joy and peace. It’s the measure of the love that surrounds you. Personal growth then requires a deeper measure of focus, which in turn increases the reservoir that defines true prosperity.

Imagine a world where we spend more quality time with family, get enough sleep to be restored and healed every night, spend enough time and focus on our flow states, limit our intake, slow our roll, and learn to read again. This is the world I want to live in more fully. I am using these steps to enter and stay in that world. If these are your desires also, I invite you to join me in this journey.

Brian Grim gives opening remarks at 1st high level India-US Higher Ed Workshop

22 Jun, 2022

A Window into the Impact of Education in India – Public Opinion Surveys

At the first-ever high level higher education visioning workshop, featuring keynotes by the Honorable Sethuraman Panchanathan, Director of the US National Science Foundation (NSF), and H.E. Taranjit Singh Sandu, Indian Ambassador to the United States, Dr. Brian Grim, President of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, provided the opening comments.

Grim shared findings from recent surveys, providing a window to the impact of education on the attitudes of people in India, drawing on his years of experience at the Washington DC-based Pew Research Center before founding the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation in 2014. He then shared findings on how education impacts international opinion about India.

Grim also highlighted some findings on how the major faiths in India share a surprising number of shared beliefs and practices, showing the great socio-economic potential of India’s pluralism and democracy. Grim finished with a sneak peak of the forthcoming groundbreaking national study with MIT World Peace University on the socio-economic value of faith to Indian society.

Read the Visioning Workshop 2022 summary here.
Brian Grim’s full comments are available here: A Window to the Impact of Education in India: Public Opinion Surveys

Background on the Workshop

The education system in India is in a crucial phase. While on the one hand, thousands of quality graduates are entering a competitive job market and young entrepreneurs are arriving with innovative ideas, on the other hand, inadequate infrastructure to nurture innovators, weak networking between policy makers, industry, and academia is creating turbulence in the Indian education ecosystem.

The superlative achievements of the Indian diaspora in academia in the USA has immense potential to bridge the gap between American educationists, policy makers and visionary leaders in the Indian education system.

The dialogue between the 5000 year old Indian value-based education system and the technologically advanced American education system will lead the world to a better place for higher education for coming generations.

Read more here.


ART is Speaking Into the Workplace

18 Jun, 2022

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

Part of the blog series, Authenticity & ConnectionHope

Our hearts were stirred by many of the events at the 2022 RFBF Dare to Overcome conference in Washington, DC. One especially transformative and hopeful message was conveyed by Tom Holdman’s inspiring traveling stained glass artwork that stood day after day in the beautiful foyer outside the main conference room. (You can learn about it at this link; but there’s no substitute for seeing it in person.)

The seven huge panels depict “Seven Pillars of Humanity”: Knowledge, Faith, Creativity, Love, Unity, Freedom and Courage. Together, this epic work sings an inspiring and powerful story; one that breathes hope. It incorporates real people, real events, and solid truths.

Such is the fabric of work, as it should be. Just as the creation of this artwork required significant collaborative work of teams of people over time, so does today’s work. Every person, from the most powerful to the humblest newcomer, indeed, every slice of light, is an essential part of the whole story.

I so love the way the panels integrate all the pieces into a unifying, ennobling panorama of what it means to be human. The trials and tragedies are integrated into a holistic picture. And it’s beautiful. And hopeful.

In coming months, various companies will take turns to prominently display this powerful work in their office centers. This is fitting.

Everyday work ought to capture our imaginations and our spirits, and raise people’s sights to noble hopes and dreams like those reflected in these exquisite stained glass panels. Our workplaces, seen through this lens, serve as a crucible for humanity’s refinement and advance. As we create, make and market the useful products and services for which our companies are best known, our companies can also deliver a compelling cultural “product”: a way of relating that ennobles humanity.

And take notice: FAITH is an integral part of – and impetus for – that refinement and advance.

I pray that those of us up and down the reporting chains in workplaces everywhere will open up and receive “art” like this… and will begin to purposefully play our own unique roles in fashioning a bigger cultural artwork – pillars of humanity – right there, where we have been planted. At work.

Brian Grim Addresses Second Interreligious Forum of the Americas

8 Jun, 2022

Brian Grim addressed the Second Interreligious Forum of the Americas “FIDELA” | June 7-8, 2022 | Center at Cathedral Plaza, Los Angeles

The Ninth Summit of the Americas, chaired and hosted by the United States, will be held on June 6–10, 2022, with a focus on “Building a Sustainable, Resilient and Equitable Future” for the Western Hemisphere. Within this framework, the Second Interreligious Forum of the Americas (FIDELA) convened in Los Angeles, on June 7-8, 2022, like other stakeholder forums, in the format of a hybrid conference. The deliberations were structured in plenary sessions and concurrent panels (with English-Spanish interpretation).

Brian Grim, president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, shared a plenary talk about how business is a powerful force for interfaith understanding, religious freedom, and peace.

FIDELA offered a platform where religious leaders, representatives of faith-based organizations, government officials, and academics came together to provide concrete practical recommendations to the Heads of State and Government who will meet at the Ninth Summit of the Americas, and also contributed to better implementation and follow-up of their commitments.

All sessions of the Forum were live streamed.

2022 REDI Index In the News

4 Jun, 2022

Corporations Are Embracing Religious Diversity

Faith-based cooperation in the workplace might provide a model to unite a divided nation.

By Kevin Stocklin, The American Conservative, June 2, 2022

Does corporate America hold the keys to religious inclusion?

Making workplaces religiously diverse and inclusive boosts the bottom line; the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s third annual Religious Diversity Equity and Inclusion Index reveals the companies getting this right

By Mya Jaradat, Deseret News, May 29, 2022

American Airlines dubbed most faith-friendly Fortune 500 company

‘You just cannot compartmentalize the things that are your core value,’ said Greg McBrayer, American Airlines chaplain.

By Kathryn Post, RNS, May 23, 2022

Survey: American Airlines most faith-friendly among Fortune 500

Four tech firms round out top five in religious freedom group’s rankings

By Mark A. Kellner, Washington Post, May 23, 2022


American Airlines has just been named the most faith-friendly Fortune 500 company, edging out two tech companies for the top spot in 2022.

By Matthew Klint, Live and Let’s Fly, May 25, 2022


Religious Freedom & Business Institute has released their annual index measuring the commitment of corporations to religious inclusion in the workplace. The latest index covers all U.S. Fortune 500 companies, while last year’s covered only the 200 largest corporations.

Posted by Ash D., WRN, May 31, 2022

Inc.: Southwest Airlines Spent 51 Years Building a Funny Advantage

BY BILL MURPHY JR., Inc., May 2022

One of those key differentiations has to do with how the big players try to make customers feel about them, given that so many customers make decisions based on emotions, rather than pure cost-benefit analysis. For example:

Any of these could be effective, and Southwest’s competitors clearly think that they are. Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines had embraced this quirky, humorous ethos from its very beginning as a company dating to 1971.

The Daily Citizen: Does corporate America hold the keys to religious inclusion?

Relevant Radio: Which Companies are “Faith Friendly”?

American Airlines Takes Top Spot on First-Ever Opt-in Corporate Religious Diversity Index Survey

WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, UNITED STATES, May 23, 2022 / — American Airlines is the most faith-friendly corporate workplace among the 500 largest companies in America, according to the 2022 Corporate Religious Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (REDI) Index.

We Must Dare to Overcome Incivility

4 Jun, 2022

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

Part of the blog series, Authenticity & Connection, Hope

I was in Washington, DC, at the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s Dare to Overcome conference when the news of the May 24th school shooting in Uvalde hit on participants’ phones. We interrupted our proceedings for Father Greg McBrayer of American Airlines to offer a poignant, powerful, heartfelt prayer.

I wish you were there. Devout Baha’i, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Scientologists, Sikhs, “None’s” and others, were all together – physically – at The Catholic University of America, each praying, meditating and imploring the divine in his or her own way… each one coming alongside those stricken in Uvalde, and alongside each other.

I was left with a renewed hope in the possibility of civility in our time.

At the conference, interfaith panels at the Dare to Overcome conference wrestled with questions like:

1. How can diverse faith perspectives help companies promote good in the world?
2. As Artificial Intelligence increasingly transforms the way we work and interact, how should companies actively engage the voices of people of faith to help guide those who shape the algorithms that determine what constitutes legitimate “news,” and inform hiring decisions, and police the workplace?
3. How can we promote authenticity and connection in a world that today seems to drive people into isolated groups, each disdaining the other?
4. What does it mean to be truly “Human?”

It was a profoundly welcoming and hopeful gathering. No one was pressed to compromise his or her faith or belief; yet we came together in common purpose: to affirm the dignity of all human beings and to promote everyone’s freedom of religion and belief – freedom both of expression and practice – in the workplace. We connected over ideas, art, music and meals.

The personal testimonials were stirring. We heard of the work of diverse faith-oriented employee resource groups at Dell Technologies who collaborated and engaged others (with help from the A21 organization) to help end the dehumanizing scourge of human trafficking. We reveled as we saw evidence from Intel Corporation of the sincere, deep friendships that’ve been forged among Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists, Hindus and others. We celebrated with American Airlines, this year’s most faith-friendly corporate workplace among the 500 largest in America… a company that truly “walks the talk.” Leaders from PayPal, Texas Instruments, Equinix, Target, Tyson Foods, AIG, Alphabet/Google, American Express, the Ford Motor Company, Intuit, Ameriprise Financial Group, Cigna, Meta Platforms (Facebook), Accenture, TeaPak, SAP and many others came to add their hearty support.

My point is this: There’s hope. Hatred and division need not prevail. Companies need not be driven solely by the pursuit of profits to the detriment of civility. We need not allow media and other cultural forces to shove us into mutually distrustful and fearful camps. Companies like these are producing “products” that are even more positively impactful than the ones that you associate with them. They’re producing cultural civility and warmth that embraces all people, no matter their religion, belief, race, language, orientation, or anything else. They’re treating people like people.

There’s hope!