Working for workplace religious diversity, equity & inclusion


Monthly Archives: August 2022

PayPal’s Becky Pomerleau Speaks at 1st CEO Roundtable

31 Aug, 2022

1st of the Monthly RFBF CEO Roundtable call

Thursday, October 6 from 12-12:30PM EST/ 9-9:30 PM PST.

Featuring Becky Pomerleau, Director SOX Program at PayPal and Global Co-Lead at Interfaith at PayPal

After having three heart attacks in 4 days, Becky made the decision to dedicate her life and work to advancing faith in the workplace. Join us as she shares her story and the impact that the Interfaith network has had on the productivity, inclusivity, and impact at PayPal.

5 minutes: Intros and welcome
15-20 minutes: Presentation
5-10 minutes: Q&A

For those interested and able to stay, we will continue the conversation for another 30 minutes for an “off the record” conversation with the CEO Roundtable.

Join the Zoom call here on Thursday, Oct. 6.

The Purpose of the Roundtable

Open to women and men, the Women’s CEO Roundtable led by Ingrid Vanderveldt is a gathering of global CEO’s and business leaders who come together in shared fellowship to address business issues facing the world today. The CEO Roundtable is by invitation only and is part of The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RFBF).

Tokyo summit on Freedom, Peace & Inclusion

27 Aug, 2022

Keynote speakers (l-to-r): Justin Green (Accenture), Masako Tanaka (Sophia University), Hiroyasu Ito (Japan Abilities Association), Brian Grim (Religious Freedom & Business Foundation)

Dare to Overcome (DTO) Japan next step toward India 2023

Keynote speakers at DTO Japan discussed concrete steps for overcoming some of society’s biggest challenges, beginning with war and peace, moving to human trafficking, and concluding with the stigmatization of people with disabilities.

Brian Grim, Global Chairman of Dare to Overcome, kicked of the summit with a brief history of Dare to Overcome and its mission of peace. He then discussed why the future of business lies in embracing diversity, and how that is a practical strategy for building peaceful and prosperous societies. Grim exemplified this with examples from the global network that is part of Dare to Overcome. He conclude by inviting all to stay involved and join DTO India in September 2023.

Watch or read Grim’s entire address here, supplemented with video examples given as part of his address.

Masaka Tanaka dove into the problem of how human traffickers exploit the Japanese Technical Intern Training Program (TITP). For example, as reported by Japan Times:

The [TITP] program, which was created in 1993 as a means to transfer skills and nurture talent in developing countries, has been criticized as a hotbed of exploitation and as a means for human traffickers to entice foreign workers to Japan, where they can be forced to work as victims of “extortion contracts” with severely limited freedoms. The program came under renewed scrutiny this year, when the government revoked the license of an intermediary company that recruited technical interns from overseas after a Vietnamese construction worker suffered repeated beatings at the hands of his coworkers. It was the 33rd time a permit had been revoked for failures to uphold worker safety obligations since regulations were introduced in 2017.

Hiroyasu Ito, the father of disability inclusion in Japan, gave a history of the movement from official policy allowing exclusion of people with disabilities from the workforce to a policy where companies are now required to have 1.2% of their workforce be people with varying disabilities, or face fines. He recounted his own personal history of being denied employment to now leading the largest Abilities association and company in Japan today.

Read more about Mr. Ito, recipient of our 2021 Global Business Overcomer’s Award.

Finally, Accenture’s Justin Greene also shared his personal journey of greater effectiveness and more significant opportunities for leadership once he made his neurological disability known. He had helped lead Accenture’s employee resource group for people with disabilities, helping fulfill the company’s tagline: to be the world’s most human company.

At the bottom you can see Justin Greene’s talk from the 2021 virtual Tokyo DTO. Justin’s in-person participation was thanks to the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s partnership with American Airlines, who also supports such initiatives that reflect their mission to care for one another along life’s journey.

Our venue was the prestigious Sophia University, a Jesuit university set across from the State Guesthouse and just up the road from the Japanese Diet and with walking distance of the Imperial Gardens and Palace. Our Japan partner MetaVenture has worked with us to provide excellent mission-driven programming, both virtually and in person!

And finally, thanks to Templeton Religion Trust for their sponsorship of the initiative.

Stay tuned for more details on Date to Overcome India, to be held September 24-26, 2023, in New Delhi.

Inspired by Holocaust survivor to connect hearts

24 Aug, 2022

Summary by Melissa Grim, J.D.

Dr. Judith Richter, Global Business & Interfaith Peace Award Gold Medalist, delivered a keynote address at the 2022 Dare to Overcome National Faith ERG Conference in Washington DC. (See recording below.)
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Dr. Judith Richter is an accomplished entrepreneur and among Israel’s most distinguished business leaders. In 1993, Dr. Richter co-founded Medinol, a global medical device company that acquired a significant international position in the Interventional Cardiology and stenting industry. She has served as the company’s Chief Executive Officer since its founding.

Dr. Richter realized her vision for the social impact of her company’s when she founded the NIR School of the Heart, a bright ray of hope in a region where prejudice and violence are present in the hearts of too many people. The NIR School is a unique academic and social program, that assembles teenagers from different backgrounds to learn the basics of cardiology. Despite times of great tension in the region, the NIR School has operated continuously, and today is proud to have more than 800 graduates, and more than 25% of these graduates are pursuing careers as physicians or other medical-related professions.

Of her father and the Holocaust, she shares:

But not less important I’ve learned that the heart is a common symbol across all religions and cultures of our shared humanity. In working to open hearts, I was inspired by the legacy of my father, a survivor of the Holocaust, one of the darkest times in human history.

Through his heroic life story – risking his own life to save the lives of others – my father taught me that while one’s possessions, friends and even family can be ripped away, the single asset that no one can take away from you is knowledge.

Knowledge empowers. Knowledge humanizes. Knowledge is the foundation upon which respect and peace are built.

Over the years I have come to learn that there are moments in life when one has to go above and beyond the call of duty, follow his/her personal values, and stretch a hand to those in danger and need.

Dr. Richter stresses that in these troubling times, the agony of the Ukrainian people is calling upon humanity to take action and help save lives. The management and employees at Medinol are taking part in this global noble front. On the Israeli Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2022, Medinol shipped stents as a donation to Ukraine.

She called upon leaders in the corporate world, in the business sector, and in the halls of power, to inspire others to open their hearts, break down barriers allow friendship and creativity to flow across borders, and help build bridges between hearts, over and through walls.

In closing, Dr. Richter said that “We should all appeal to our common humanity and the parts of religion that call upon each of us to take a greater human responsibility – doing good for a better world. We have proven it at Medinol and in the NIR School. We can do it anywhere.”

Dr. Judith Richter – We Must Dare to Overcome

1st report from India

17 Aug, 2022

Greetings from the MIT World Peace University in Pune, India (near Mumbai)! I’ve started a series of terrific planning meetings for our 2023 Dare to Overcome Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards. They’ll be held in New Delhi, Sept. 24-25, 2023, in tandem with the G20 hosted by India.

American Airlines is our partner and the official airline of Dare to Overcome. See pic of the fun sendoff the gate staff gave as I boarded the 15-hour non-stop flight from JFK. They truly put to practice their motto of caring for one another along life’s journey.

Five Steps to “Authenticity”

15 Aug, 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

Diversity professionals often urge employees to “be authentic,” to “bring your whole self to work,” and to “be true to yourself.” Sounds good. Sounds liberating. But what is “authenticity?” What does it mean to be authentic? And how can one be “authentic” at work? This column will provide five steps to do just that.

For starters, I’d submit that in order to be true to myself, I must first do the hard work to explore and begin to answer the question, “Who AM I?”

Regardless of how one defines oneself, authenticity simply can’t be lived out unreflectively, moment by moment. A person who navigates the winds and waves of work and life unreflectively, day after day, runs the risk of sometimes violating the core principles and beliefs that person claims to embrace. To live contrary to one’s core principles and beliefs is to violate one’s core identity. It would entail living a lie. Living inauthentically.

Some may object to this line of reasoning on the basis that it seems designed to impose guilt or a set of external rules. That’s not my intent. My point is simply that living authentically entails an effort to come to grips with one’s core identity, and to live in a manner that’s consistent with that identity.

The need for reflection isn’t just for people who embrace traditional religions. The term “religion” has been defined as “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.” Some may jokingly define their core belief as “meh,” or “frankly, I don’t give a rip!” But at the end of the day, is there a human who doesn’t have some “cause, principle or system of beliefs?”

Suppose a person earnestly believes there is no ultimate truth. The moment such a person begins to act as if there is an ultimate truth, an inconsistency arises. That person may reply, “So what? I don’t claim to be consistent, or to embrace any particular set of ‘do’s and don’ts.’ I’m being true to my core identity, which embraces personal freedom, moment by moment, to redefine myself.” Frankly, as a practical matter, I have yet to meet any person who actually lives that way. If you know such people, send them my way. I’d love to connect.

Let’s dig deeper. I’d submit that living authentically isn’t just about adhering to one’s personally-defined list of behavioral “do’s and don’ts.” Authenticity relates more broadly to the way diverse people/coworkers apprehend, interpret and interact with all of life’s winds and waves.

 Some might argue that it’s impossible for one to act in a manner contrary to one’s core identity. You are what you are. In a sense, rocks and trees are far more “authentic” than humans. They don’t pretend. They don’t hide their true nature. They’re not hypocrites. But you are not a tree or a rock. To live authentically as a human is far more challenging.

The big challenge of authenticity is this: Are we engaging the world in a manner that’s consistent with who we are?

When I was an agnostic studying political philosophy at Princeton, my close friend and I wrestled for untold hours with concepts of beauty, truth, identity and purpose. Among many other things, we grappled with the cultural and developmental constraints that, over time, tend to rob “adults” of their sense of childlike wonder and joy when viewing a flower or an insect… or anything that seems new to them. We considered how – as we grow as human beings – we might resist being pressed into a socially-programmed “mature” mold that often misses the wonder, beauty and fun of the world.

Those kinds of discussions served as a catalyst for my search for meaning and virtue. They helped hone my sense of self, my vision of innovation, of freedom, of teamwork, of purpose, and of what it means to be human. I came to realize that my core principles and beliefs shape all of my perceptions of the world, and profoundly influence my interactions with other people. Reflections like that spurred my quest to define myself, and to seek to live in accordance with my core identity, wherever that led me.

Diversity professionals would do well to consider the implications of this kind of reflection. Specifically, how does human authenticity positively impact the workplace? Surely, authenticity strengthens predictability and mutual trust; but I’d submit that the benefits of authenticity in the workplace extend far beyond that. A culture that applauds human authenticity fortifies personal commitment, zeal, fellowship, mutual respect, ethics, common purpose and civility. [If there are employees whose core values are inconsistent with these ideas, it’s good to get those values out on the table where they can be understood].

This brings us to the “Five Steps to Authenticity” that I promised in the title to this piece. What can be done to help facilitate authenticity in the workplace? Here’s my shot at that, to be elucidated in later segments:

(1) “Know thyself.” (Yes, my starting point is to cite Shakespeare). In order to do this, the following four additional steps are helpful.

(2) Purposefully set apart times to think deeply about who you are. Reflect sometimes in solitude.

(3) That said, don’t hide who you are. Rather, give voice to your identity and your core values. Be who you are, warts and all, out in the open. In doing this, engage with others – including some close work colleagues – to help you learn about yourself and to refine your perception of your personal identity. Listen carefully to others’ perspectives, and help them on their journey. Here are a few business luminaries who touch on related themes:

— Brene Brown, a strong advocate of courageous vulnerability and authenticity at work, says, “What we know matters, but who we are matters more.”

— Simon Sinek observes that “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”

— Adam Grant observes, “Strong leaders engage their critics and make themselves stronger. Weak leaders silence their critics and make themselves weaker.”

(4) Be true to yourself. Seek always to live in accordance with your core principles and beliefs. When you disagree with others, work to articulate why, in ways the others can understand.

(5) And lastly, as Sinek says, “Don’t quit. Never give up trying to build the world you can see, even if others can’t see it.” I’d put it like this: In everything you do, earnestly, relentlessly and openly strive to live in a way that’s consistent with your core identity, and that supports and advances the core values you embrace.

As you take these five steps, you’ll be living authentically (though like all of us, imperfectly). And you will be connecting profoundly with others, in a way that powerfully enriches the culture in which you live.

Authenticity makes a difference. A very positive difference.

Faith is a Key Part of Workplace Diversity – Charlotte, NC – October 4, Breakfast

14 Aug, 2022

Register for the IN-PERSON BREAKFAST here.

Join Brian Grim, President of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, and other business leaders for a breakfast discussion on Oct. 4, 2022, 7:30-9:00 AM ET, on how and why faith in a key part of workplace diversity, cosponsored by the YMCA of Greater Charlotte.

Corporations across America have recognized the value of having diverse workforces. When people feel welcomed and appreciated for who they are, it benefits recruitment, retention and revenue.

There is a growing movement within the world’s best companies to include faith and belief as part of their diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. For some companies, such as American Airlines, this earned them the top spot on the annual Corporate Religious Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (REDI) Index for 2022. Not only do they have officially sponsored faith-based employee resource groups (ERGs), but one of their chief flight controllers is a corporate chaplain. They also take a lead in helping other corporations adopt similar religiously inclusive practices.

Hope to see you in Charlotte, NC, on Tuesday, Oct. 4!

Register for the IN-PERSON BREAKFAST here.

Establishing a Successful Faith-Based ERG

12 Aug, 2022

By Marsie Sweetland (second from right), Client Executive and Founder of FaithConnect at Equinix

See a summary of the panel discussion by Alessio Atria & Melissa Grim here.

At this year’s Religious Freedom & Business Foundation conference, panelists from Google, Intel, Salesforce, and Meta (Facebook) joined me for a 45-minute conversation about how they successfully established their faith-based ERGs. The complete video is below, along with a summary here. I hope this is helpful to anyone looking to establish a faith-based ERG.

When I decided to found Equinix’s faith-based ERG in 2019 (FaithConnect), I had high hopes, but I didn’t know where to begin. I didn’t know a single person in the faith-based ERG community.

One day, one of my co-workers told me about Salesforce’s Faithforce. I decided to reach out. Michael Roberts and Farah Siddiqui were kind enough to share their hard-won knowledge, their mission, charter, and how they established their ERG. They also told me about RFBF which is how I first learned about this incredible community.

In January 2021, my co-founder, Dale Konrad, and I attended the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s 2nd annual conference, held virtually. We were thrilled to meet other ERG members and connect with those in the broader community who support religious diversity in the workplace. The conference was very educational and a great opportunity to learn best practices.

After the conference, we decided to engage RFBF consultation services with Paul Lambert. Thanks to Paul’s expert guidance and the generous help from the broader RFBF community, we successfully launched FaithConnect in March 2021.

I was given so much help while setting up FaithConnect that I was inspired to give back. I’ve had numerous one-on-one conversations, helping others to set up their new ERGs. In order to capture the value in these discussions, I also created a Faith-Based ERG Leadership Online Community Forum where ERG members could collaborate.

Most recently, during the annual RFBF conference in May, I was thrilled to have been given the opportunity to bring together leaders from some of the top faith-based ERGs in the world – Google, Intel, Salesforce, and Meta (Facebook) – to answer some of the most commonly asked questions such as, “How do I establish my faith-based ERG?”, “Should I have sub-chapters?”, or “How do I organize my ERG?”

Naomi Kraus (Google), Michael Roberts (Salesforce), Craig Carter (Intel), and Tariq Nagpurwala  (Meta) did a fantastic job of describing their process, challenges and history. I genuinely enjoyed the conversation and hope others do as well.

ERGs can bring so much to a company’s culture – respect, diversity, and understanding – and I look forward to continuing to help others on this journey.  Individually, ERGs can change a company’s culture but working together in collaboration, ERGs truly are a force for good in the world.

Washington DC May. 24, 2022: Establishing a Successful Faith-Based ERG from Religious Freedom & Business Foundation. This panel was organized by Equinix’s FaithConnect at Dare to Overcome, the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s annual faith@work national ERG conference held in partnership with the Busch School of Business at The Catholic University of America.
Listen to some of the faith-based ERG leaders as they share how they established their ERG, what challenges they have faced and what wins they have brought to their companies. Panelists include:
  • — Google: Naomi Kraus, Founding Member and Global Chair of IBN and Global Lead of Jewglers subchapter
  • — Salesforce: Michael Roberts, Global President of Faithforce
  • — Meta: Tariq Nagpurwala, Current Co-Lead for the Interfaith@Meta ERG and Founder/Former Lead of Muslim@Meta subgroup.
  • — Intel: Craig Carter, leader in the Christian ERG, and with the Cross-Faith and Belief Alliance ERG (Atheist/Agnostic, Baha’i, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh).
  • — Equinix: Marsie Sweetland, Founder of Equinix FaithConnect

See a summary of the panel discussion by Alessio Atria & Melissa Grim here.

Meet the people of FaithConnect!

How can we strengthen personal bonds in the workplace?

9 Aug, 2022

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

Part of the blog series, Authenticity & ConnectionHope

Employees often feel unseen, disconnected and unappreciated. They long for a more significant connection; a solid sense of belonging. Here’s one suggestion to help shape a work culture in which your people feel free to connect more meaningfully: Invite them to interact in a forum focused on particular employees’ core beliefs.

The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RFBF) recently held a virtual event in which people were invited to gather in separate “rooms” of their choosing, each hosted by a representative of a particular faith or belief. For this gathering, the beliefs included Atheist, Bahai, Buddhist, Catholic, Friends of Bill (12-step programs), Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, Scientology, Sikh, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Room hosts talked about the core beliefs that form their personal identity and inform their everyday work life.

This was not a “comparative religions” session. We didn’t enlist professionals to talk about particular religions. It was just employees from various companies, connecting informally with other employees who wanted to learn more about how the others’ core beliefs impact their workplace.

The response was very positive, including comments like: “We need more of this kind of connection!” “I learned so much!” “My preconceived ideas were challenged.” “This encouraged me to reach out to others who are not like me.”

Would you consider hosting a voluntary gathering around particular faiths and beliefs, like this, perhaps within your company? There’s nothing proprietary about the idea or the execution — the goal is simply to enable willing employees of various faiths to get to know their co-workers better.

If you’d like some pointers on how this kind of exchange might be facilitated at your company, RFBF can be a resource to you. In any case, it’s our hope (and prayer) that your workplace will embrace respectful and authentic communications around employees’ core beliefs. This will help strengthen your workplace culture by enabling employees to “see” one other more fully, to connect more deeply, and to truly appreciate one another.

Utah InterFaith@Work, Veteran’s Day Conference Nov. 11

6 Aug, 2022

See how faith is a core element of corporate DEI through Employee Resource Groups & corporate chaplains (similar to military chaplains)

Please register and purchase tour ticket today before they sell out!

On Veterans Day (11/11/22), the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation in partnership with Utah Valley University will host a half-day conference for companies on the “silicon slopes” of Utah at the UVU Campus at Thanksgiving Point.

Topics to be addressed include:

  • – How including faith and belief reinforces other diversity initiatives
  • – How to start and grow a faith-or-belief employee resource group (ERG)
  • – How faith and spirituality, when accommodated in the workplace, provide resiliency, health, and wellbeing to employees
  • – How corporate chaplains are providing the same level of spiritual care in corporate workplaces as they do in the military
  • – Corporate General Counsel Panel
  • – Contribution of freedom of religion or belief for all to the US economy

The event ends with lunch* and an optional tour of Tom Holdman’s glass studio.

Keynote Speakers

  • Astrid S. Tuminez, President of the Utah Valley University
  • Dr. Brian Grim, President of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, and the world’s leading expert on the socio-economic value of religious freedom for all
  • King Husein, Chairman and CEO of Span Construction and Engineering, which has the exclusive contract to build all Costco stores worldwide
  • Jefferson “Jeff” S. Burton, Maj. General, US Army (ret.), Vice President, Zions Bank, and member of the Utah House of Representatives

Panel Speakers

  • Archana Thiagarajan, Adobe, Senior Director Experience Design
  • Fr. Greg McBrayer, Chief Flight Controller and Company Chaplain, American Airlines
  • Chaplain Kimberly Moses, Captain, U.S. Navy, ret., ChaplainCare Learning Officer, former executive director of the Navy Chaplaincy School
  • C. Todd Linton, Director, Military Relations and Chaplains Services Division, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
  • Michael Isom, Adobe, Senior Business Operations Management
  • Adam Smith-Cairns, ServiceNow, Product Marketing Manager, and Co-chair, Interfaith Belonging Group
  • Kristine Ouzts, Strategic Planning Consultant for start-ups focusing on revenue generation, market segmentation, and financing needs
  • Keagan Case, People Analytics @ Qualtrics
  • Matt Evans, Sr. Director, Digital Transformation at Salesforce, and Global Vice President of Salesforce’s Faithforce
  • Robert Burton, UVU Civic Education Initiative

If your company has an office in Utah, get your tickets today before they sell out!

* Please contact organizers with any dietary needs.

Grim speaks to Salt Lake Chamber’s Military Affairs Committee

3 Aug, 2022

On August 3, 2022, Brian Grim shared with the Salt Lake Chamber Military Affairs Committee* about the faith-and-belief-friendly movement among Fortune 500 companies and how veterans are playing a part in the movement.

Grim’s examples included how a former US Army command chaplain, Karen Diefendorf, became chief of chaplains at Tyson Foods (see more).

Grim also shared how the 16th Chaplain of the US Marine Corps, Rev. Dr. Alan T. “Blues” Baker, Rear Admiral (ret.), U.S. Navy, has started the corporate chaplaincy initiative ChaplainCare with retired military chaplains. Their aim is to help corporations provide the same quality of spiritual care for their members as the military does.

Grim also shared about a panel discussion he moderated with Senator James Lankford (R-OK) & Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) on why businesses should include religion as part of their diversity initiatives. (Hint: It involved a major global corporation first taking the step to include veterans as part of their diversity initiative.)

Grim began the presentation with a summary of Google’s journey to religious inclusion, spotlighting their groundbreaking video introducing their Inter Belief Network (IBN).

* The Salt Lake Chamber Military Affairs Committee focuses on building relationships between military installation units and businesses by increasing awareness through monthly briefings and tours. The committee began in 1999. It was started because it was recognized that the Top Of Utah MAC usually provided support to the Active duty units at Hill AFB, but no one was really assisting the Reserve and Guard units located in Salt Lake City area.