Having the opportunity to work as an intern for the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation has been an amazing learning experience for me. Starting in January, when I was introduced to Brian Grim and the foundation, I was drawn to the idea of increased pluralism in the corporate sphere. Up to that point, my research on religious freedom had not included any focus on how religious individuals are treated in the workplace.
Beginning work on the foundation’s Corporate Religious Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (REDI) Index and researching employee resource groups (ERGs) in Fortune 500 companies opened my eyes to how often religion is excluded from various diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Religion is a crucial aspect of identity and is closely intertwined with human dignity. Having employee resource groups and other inclusive programs that allow employees to express their beliefs in the workplace is a pivotal step that corporations can take to increase pluralism and eventually overall productivity.
One primary focus of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation is the importance of employees bringing their whole selves to work. When employees are able to fully embrace this aspect of their identity in an accepting and inclusive environment, their motivation to provide their best work increases.
At the Dare to Overcome Conference, I was amazed at how important this idea was as I met with individuals whose lives were directly impacted by employee resource groups and other inclusion initiatives at their respective workplaces. The concepts I had spent the last few months researching suddenly took on a new meaning as I met individuals working tirelessly to advocate for religious freedom in their companies.
The uplifting environment at the Dare to Overcome Conference was inspiring to me as a student intern. I was surrounded by professionals who prioritize their faith and create inclusive spaces wherever they work, and was able to connect with them on a more personal level than I would have in almost any other situation. I am forever grateful that I was given the opportunity to attend the Dare to Overcome Conference and will forever treasure the connections I made there.