Working for workplace religious diversity, equity & inclusion


Monthly Archives: December 2022

Our Top 10 Stories in 2022

20 Dec, 2022

In case you missed them, have a look at RFBF’s top 10 most-read stories from 2022. Stay tuned for an exciting 2023 of advancing freedom of religion and belief for all in and through business.

Wishing a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and productive New Year to all!

Brian Grim
RFBF President

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

#2 Pivotal Finding: 80% of business leaders say it’s “good for company culture” to encourage employees to be open about their faith, according to a new Deseret News/HarrisX nationally representative poll

#3 Get it Done “by/vs” Building the Relationship? Where do you fall on the “by/vs” spectrum?

#4 Two EEOC Commissioners to Share Expertise on Combating Anti-Semitism in the Workplace

#5 Vocation of the Business Leader: From the Vatican to American Airlines, seeing the dignity of human work as a “community of people”

#6 Religious diversity: Corporate obstacle? Or asset? US companies embrace religious diversity as good for people and for business

#7 Company On Nasdaq With Purpose To Honor God: Did you know that Coca-Cola Consolidated’s leading purpose is to honor God in all they do?

#8 American Airlines CCO & G100 Founder To Receive Top Awards: 2022 Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards

#9 Severely Restricting Religious Freedom Predicts War: Russia, perpetrating war in Ukraine, has the highest restrictions on religious freedom in Europe, 4th highest in world

#10 Religious Freedom & Peace: Strengthen our democracy by protecting religious freedom

Faith and H.O.P.E. at General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT)

17 Dec, 2022

By Brian Grim

On Wednesday I had the honor of speaking at the Annual Meeting of GDIT’s interfaith employee resource group Faith and H.O.P.E. I came away seeing how their exercise of workplace religious freedom for all is a model both for the faithful in society as well as for society itself.

Rather than religion being a source of disagreement and conflict – as it can be at times – I had the opportunity to meet people from across the faith and belief spectrum coming together in HOPE: Honesty, Optimism, Prayer, and Encouragement.

This year, GDIT’s Faith and HOPE ERG has experienced double digit growth in members, hosted dozens of events and meetings, all with the mission to:

“promote understanding of the hope and resources that can be found through faith in God or a higher power or philosophical system, provide employees with a network of like-minded peers, address questions from those interested in learning more, and pray for GDIT’s success in its work and mission.”

It is indeed hopeful to see that in today’s best workplaces there is free space for such open dialogue and religious engagement. It is a great example of what we refer to as Covenantal Pluralism. If you’re not familiar with the concept, check out the short video below. Have HOPE!

Covenantal Pluralism from Religious Freedom & Business Foundation on Vimeo.

PayPal invites Amazon, Intel, Salesforce and Equinix to help kickoff Silicon Valley’s first-ever Interfaith Fair

10 Dec, 2022

1st-ever PayPal Interfaith Fair

By Brian Grim

PayPal’s interfaith employee resource group (ERG) ‘Believe’ hosted Silicon Valley’s first-ever Interfaith Fair at their global headquarters in San Jose, California, on Thursday. Believe leads Becky Pomerleau and Neetu Dhaliwal brought Believe members from across the country to participate, including John Huân Vũ and Jessica Aycock among many others! During the Fair, hundreds of PayPal team members visited the interactive faith booths (pictured above).

The Interfaith Fair was kicked off with virtual comments by PayPal CEO Dan Schulman, who was in Europe. Schulman emphasized the central place faith and belief has in the company’s overall diversity commitments.

Following Schulman’s welcome, an inter-company, interfaith panel moderated by PayPal’s Neetu Dhaliwal discussed the opportunities and challenges for bringing their whole selves, faith and all, to work. Discussants included Salesforce Vice President Randhir Kalsi, Amazon’s Mimi Chan, Equinix’s Husain Husna, and Intel’s Rajesh Yawantikar.

The Fair culminated with an executive Fireside Chat on the Value of Faith that I had the honor to participate in with PayPal Board member Debbie Messemer, moderated by Ellen Hayes, Vice President, Global Communities, Culture, and Change Communications at PayPal (pictured L-R below).

On Friday, as a follow-up to PayPal’s Interfaith Fair, Equinix’s FaithConnect ERG founded by Marsie Sweetland invited everyone to their Redwood City headquarters on Friday for the first annual interfaith Holiday Luncheon, also attended by Bruce Owen, Equinix’s Vice President of Employee & Community Impact, and others including Ismael Rivera.

At the Equinix luncheon, together with Kimberly Moses of ChaplainCare (pictured below right with Marsie Sweetland), I shared about the importance of recognizing the holidays of all religious communities of employees in a company.

It’s amazing to see the synergy between the religiously inclusive activities across companies in Silicon Valley, with the actions of one company stimulating similar and innovative activities in others. What wonderful examples of faith and hope in this holiday season!

Religious Repression → Economic Stagnation

7 Dec, 2022

Religious Repression Yields Economic Stagnation – as evidenced by countries on US State Department Countries of Concern list

by Brian Grim

The US State Department just released the latest Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) list for egregious violations of religious freedom. The list includes the world’s second largest economy, the People’s Republic of China, which has seen a marked economic downturn coinciding with the draconian zero-covid policy that has put hundreds of millions of residents in a series of lockdowns.

The Chinese Communist Party’s total population control — now easing due to a series of public protests the likes of which have not been not seen since the government brutally put down the 1989 Tiananmen demonstrations — mirrors policies used to control religious populations, such as their detention of an estimated one million Uyghur and other Muslims in the western Xinjiang region.

Such policies are drawing not only sanctions but driving global businesses to move their operations and supply chains elsewhere for freer, less state-controlled markets. (Also see my previous analysis, China’s Economic Secret Under Threat.)

Religious repression is also associated with market liabilities in Russia, Iran, North Korea, and Myanmar, all of which continue to be under heavy sanctions for hostile actions, many involving religiously repressive or assertive policies, such as Russia’s Orthodox Church justifying on religious grounds Putin’s war of aggression on Ukraine, as I’ve previously written.

As shown in our Cambridge University Press book, The Price of Freedom Denied, a lack of religious freedom in a country results in violent religious persecution and conflict. Furthering that research, our article “Is Religious Freedom Good for Business?” shows that religious hostilities and restrictions create climates that can drive away local and foreign investment, undermine sustainable development, and disrupt huge sectors of economies.

If you’d like to help address these issues, there’s something you can help us with. Please nominate business leaders you know (or know about) who are working to advance cultures of interfaith understanding, religious freedom (broadly defined), and peace for our 2023 Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards. More information is here.

The Awards will be presented next September in India, part of our covenantal pluralism initiative devoted to interfaith understanding and peace in the world’s largest democracy.

Why Acknowledging Christmas in the Workplace Matters

3 Dec, 2022

By Jonathan A. Segal* | Guest Post on our blog series, Authenticity & Connection.

Last year, a company wanted to celebrate the holidays but without risking offending anyone in the process. Out of an abundance of caution, they did not have a “holiday” party. Instead, as recommended by a consultant, they had a “December dinner.”

Per that same consultant, they did not have a Christmas tree. Instead, they had a “Seasonal Evergreen.”

There are other examples. But, I think you can see the movie.

The company took the issue very seriously but they ended up looking very silly instead. They did not want to offend anyone but they ended up offending almost everyone.

We cannot tell our employees we want them to be their authentic selves but then tell them to check their faith at the workplace door. For many employees, faith is an important part of who they are.

Inclusion relative to faith means everyone and that includes Christians. And, how an employer handles Christmas sends a small but still symbolic message about the inclusion of those of the Christian faith.

So, please, don’t attempt to eliminate Christmas from the holiday season. Acknowledge Christmas but also acknowledge other holidays, too.

It is more than okay to have a holiday party and specifically mention Christmas in connection with it. Just mention other holidays too, such as Hanukkah, Bodhi Day and Kwanza.

Please, have a beautiful Christmas tree. But have a Menorah and Kwanza harvest basket, too.

And, yes, you can wish someone a Merry Christmas if you know they celebrate the holiday. Frankly, if you know someone celebrates Christmas but wish them Season’s Greetings instead, it feels a bit uncharitable to me.

I very much appreciate when someone wishes me a Happy Hanukkah because they know I am Jewish. An important part of my family, culture and me is acknowledged in the process.

But some think: it is very hard to acknowledge all faiths so it is better to acknowledge none at all. The focus on the perfect is the enemy of the good.

Further, it is possible to cast a wide net of inclusivity relative to faith during the holiday season. And so I shall try.

For those of you who celebrate Christmas, may the peace and happiness of Christmas be yours.

For those of you who observe Bodhi Day, may it be a blessed day.

For those of you who celebrate Hanukkah, I will be lighting a candle with you to celebrate our resilience.

For those whose seasonal holidays I did not mention, they—like you—are no less important and I respect your faith, too.

For those of you who celebrate holidays at other times in the year or are of no faith but good faith, I wish you well just as well.

The December holidays provides us with an opportunity to focus on religious inclusivity and that includes Christmas. What we do now sets the tone for the year to come.

Erase Christmas from your workplace and all your subsequent efforts relative to the religious inclusivity will be for naught.

Merry Christmas to my Christian friends.

* Jonathan A Segal is a partner at the Duane Morris Law Firm. He also is the managing principal of the employment group’s training arm, the Duane Morris Institute. Previously a litigator, Jonathan’s practice focuses on avoiding discrimination, harassment and retaliation and increasing diversity, equality and inclusion. Jonathan has a particular passion for preventing religious bias both as a legal and cultural matter and for promoting religious inclusivity. With the alarming increase of antisemitism, preventing and addressing this form of hate has become core to Jonathan’s practice. Jonathan has provided training to federal judges for more than 20 years, is a frequent speaker at business, HR and other conferences, and has had published on 3rd party platforms approximately 500 articles/blogs.