Working for workplace religious diversity, equity & inclusion


Monthly Archives: February 2023

American Airlines ERG Interfaith Summit

28 Feb, 2023

American Airlines hosts top five companies to discuss newest innovations in making workplaces faith-friendly

Today, American Airlines hosted the other five most faith-friendly Fortune 500 companies to discuss newest innovations in their work.

Intel, PayPal, DELL Technologies and Texas Instruments, as well as global Fortune 500 leader Accenture, each shared how they are using RFBF’s REDI Index to benchmark their journey towards increasing workplace religious inclusion. (See more photos.)

In addition to participation from the companies’ various faith-based employee business resource group (EBRG) leaders – including from American Airline’s five faith-and-belief EBRGs and DEI Specialist Millicent Rone – American Airlines Chief People Officer Alison Taylor and Chief Diversity Officer Cedric Rockamore also participated.

Stained glass master artist Tom Holdman, his wife and team brought his 7-panel masterpiece, The Pillars of Humanity, to display in the atrium of American Airlines global HQ. It was originally displayed at last year’s Dare to Overcome in Washington.

Their art reinforced the message that while we are each unique, together we create a more beautiful whole. The glass was blessed at a prayer service in the atrium by Fr. Greg McBrayer, corporate chaplain and chief flight controller at American Airlines. 

New Generation of MBAs Take Up Faith@Work Cause

24 Feb, 2023

By Brian Grim

MBA students from eleven of America’s leading business schools competed to design the most sustainable way for a company to institutionalize faith and belief as part of a Fortune 100’s core diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.

At the closing banquet of the three-day competition, Sumreen Ahmad, Accenture’s global lead for change, spelled out four distinct areas where faith’s impact in organizational systems cannot be ignored.

Teams from business schools including The Wharton School at Penn, Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern, and the Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame, competed for cash and airline mileage prizes at the 1st annual BYU MBA Case Competition: Faith and Belief @ Work at the Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business in collaboration with the Sorenson Center for Moral & Ethical Leadership.

As part of the learning events at the competition, Paul Lambert, RFBF Senior Business Fellow, shared the three B’s of Religious Literacy: Belief, Behavior & Belonging.

The Case Competition was sponsored by American Airlines, Equinix, PayPal, the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, and Spudnik Donuts.

MBA students are also invited to participate in our national Faith@Work ERG and Corporate Chaplain Dare to Overcome Conference in Washington, DC, where Fortune 500 champions of religiously inclusive workplaces will share best practices and engage in cutting edge discussions of where this hopeful and exciting movement is heading.

Please join us in Washington DC, this May 22-24!

Four Areas Where The Impact of Faith in Systems Cannot be Ignored

24 Feb, 2023

Sumreen Ahmad, Global Change Management Lead, Accenture, delivered the following Keynote Address at the February 17, 2023, BYU MBA Case Competition: Faith and Belief @ Work, at the Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business in collaboration with the Sorenson Center for Moral & Ethical Leadership. Teams from 11 business schools from across the country participated. The Case Competition was sponsored by American Airlines, Equinix, PayPal, the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, and Spudnik Donuts. Read Sumreen’s full address here.

Bismillah Ar Rahman Ni Raheem / Peace and Blessings to you all.

Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of this incredible event and to be in the beautiful state of Utah and your hospitality at BYU. Being here takes me back to my childhood where I lived 4 minutes away from the temple in Edmonton, Alberta and had the privilege of sharing my years as a student creating memories with the large contingency of my Mormon peers. The shared values of family, community, and service served as a mirror to my own influences, experiences, and expectations as a Muslim – making it so much easier to navigate the challenges that come with high school life.

As I stand here to share my thoughts and experiences on this very important topic of Faith at Work, I want to start with the reminder to myself first that I am simple one in a line of many. In his best-selling book, Built to Last, Jim Collins talks about the successful habits of visionary companies that allow for long term sustainability. I would take it one step further to say the work we do should be through the lens of “built to leave”. The opportunity to be here – with the next generation of trailblazers is such an incredible privilege in knowing that any small seeds that I have had a part in planting have the potential to flourish as a result of the work that you all go on to do – through sincere intention, prayer, and commitment to something much bigger than any one of us in this room this evening.

So, let’s delve deeper into this important topic of why Faith @ work matters – starting with the world as we know it today. … Read the full address here.

To see other talks and discussion by Sumreen on faith@work, visit “Religious inclusion is more than an ERG.”

Why are people coming to work with ashes on their foreheads?

22 Feb, 2023

By Brian Grim

Do you wonder why some people come to work today with ashes on their foreheads? It’s OK to ask them about it. As with any religious act, most people are happy to tell you their “why.”

In short, for many Christians (including me), Ash Wednesday (today) kicks off the 40-day season of Lent, when we focus on repentance from sins and engage in additional prayer and fasting to prepare us for Easter when the season changes from repentance to joy. Learn more here.

Also, see a skeptic’s modern take on the value of Ash Wednesday here: Choosing the irrational sanity of Ash Wednesday.

Extensive Antisemitic Prejudice Nearly Doubled Since 2019

18 Feb, 2023

By Brian Grim

A new study finds that extensive antisemitism has nearly doubled in the United States between 2019 and 2022. In 2022, 20% of American held extensively antisemitic views, up from 11% in 2019.

The nationally representative survey by ADL measured the level of antisemitism by the number of negative anti-Jewish tropes* people surveyed agreed with. If they agreed with six or more, they were considered to hold extensive antisemitic prejudices.

* Antisemitic tropes, canards, or myths are “sensational reports, misrepresentations, or fabrications” that are defamatory towards Judaism as a religion or defamatory towards Jews as an ethnic or religious group. Since the Middle Ages, such reports have been a recurring motif of broader antisemitic conspiracy theories.

Nearly half of the anti-Jewish tropes people agreed with were associated with business (see chart below), which makes business a key sector of society that must engage in combating these prejudices.

ADL has a series of tools for businesses to use, some drawing upon the research and work of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation. For example, citing our Corporate Religious Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (REDI) Index, they suggest that forming Jewish employee resource groups (ERGs) as a way to both raise awareness of this problem as well as provide support structures for Jewish people and their allies in workplaces.

If your company would like to learn and do more, contact us.

The nationally representative survey of 4,007 people across America by the National Opinion Research Center was conducted September through October of 2022 on behalf of the ADL Center for Antisemitism Research.


Business has resources for White House on combatting antisemitism

15 Feb, 2023

By Brian Grim

Today, the White House hosted a listening session to inform the upcoming national strategy to counter antisemitism. As the statement indicates, this strategy is part of a broad effort to counter antisemitism, Islamophobia, and related forms of bias and discrimination within the United States.

At the meeting, I was able to share the remarkable ways faith and interfaith employee business resource groups (EBRGs) at some of the nation’s largest companies are building corporate cultures where antisemitism and any form of religious hatred or prejudice have no place.

For example, American Airlines Abraham’s Tent initiative brings together members of their Christian, Jewish, and Muslim EBRGs to regularly discuss how their respective faiths approach different topics ranging from prayer to marriage to pressing social issues.

The meeting was hosted by Shelley Greenspan, White House Liaison to the American Jewish Community and a member of the National Security Council, and Melissa Rogers, executive director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

On February 28, American Airlines faith-based EBRGs will be hosting a day-long conference at the airline’s global headquarters in Dallas to share best practices and progress they’ve made on the journey to being recognized in 2022 as the most religiously inclusive workplace among U.S. Fortune 500 companies.

American Airlines also has invited the other companies among the Top 5 to share the progress they continue to make in this vital area of diversity. These include Intel, DELL, PayPal, and Texas Instruments.

First Annual Faith & Belief @ Work MBA case competition

11 Feb, 2023

Equinix and American Airlines executive sponsors of first annual Faith & Belief @ Work case competition at BYU Marriott School of Business

By Brian Grim

BYU MBA in partnership with the BYU Sorensen Center For Moral And Ethical Leadership are holding the first annual Faith & Belief @ Work case competition to inspire inclusion, compassion, and sharing across faiths and belief systems to build a better working world.

To my knowledge, this is the first such MBA case competition looking how to foster an inclusive workplace environment for people’s varying faiths and beliefs. It’s an honor for RFBF to be one of the sponsors.

The competition brings MBA students together from across the country to create a space where people of all beliefs can network while solving real business needs on the topic of faith/belief at work.

Paul Lambert, senior business fellow at RFBF, and I will be among the judges. The full judging panel includes representatives of the two executive sponsors, Equinix and American Airlines, as well as representatives from Accenture, PayPal, McKinsey & Company, and Fashionphile.

This case competiion reflects a growing movement among the world’s best companies to both create faith-freindly workplace environments as well as benchmark their progress in this area.

Related to that, if you missed it, a recording of the overview of this year’s REDI Index survey is now available. For those companies and organizations interested in benchmarking their progress in workplace religious inclusion, this 30-minute overview gets you started on the process.

Interview: Religion & DEI by Colleen Frye

8 Feb, 2023

For some employees, the ability to be open about their faith is an important component of “bringing their whole selves” to work

In an interview with ChannelPro Network’s managing editor Colleen Frye, she and I discussed the opportunities provided by including religion as part of DEI, such as overcoming prejudices and increasing employee engagement.

We also explored the dangers of excluding religion, such as missed opportunities to connect with customers. Taking this to heart, see how Google’s Inter Belief Network helps them connect “delightfully” with customers in the video below.

Google has taken steps to make their workplaces more faith-friendly through their Inter Belief Network (IBN) employee resource group. This allows them to better connect with their billions of users, the majority of whom are also people of faith. See an example of how this impacts one of their products.

Press Release: Dr Abbas Panakkal joins as Dare to Overcome advisor

6 Feb, 2023

Dr Abbas Panakkal joins as a Senior Advisor for Dare to Overcome.

Dr Abbas Panakkal is a member of the advisory board of the Religious Life and Belief Centre at the University of Surrey and the director of the International Interfaith Harmony Initiative, which has been organizing international interfaith conferences in collaboration with the United Nations Interfaith Initiatives, the Malaysian Prime Minister’s Department for Unity and Integration, and the International Islamic University Malaysia for a decade. Dr Panakkal was awarded a research fellowship in 2016 by Griffith University in Australia. His research is wide-ranging, focussing on the history of law, language, religion, interreligious integration, intercultural cooperation etc. He is also a fellow at the King Abdullah International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dare to Overcome: Unity in Diversity

With India’s dynamic socio-economic rise on full display for the world during its G20 Presidency, Dare to Overcome’s next global gathering is in New Delhi October 17-19, 2023. The event’s theme is Unity in Diversity.

Dare to Overcome (DTO) is the premier global event for business leaders to share and celebrate best practices, virtues, and values in being allies of differing communities and cultures in workplaces and marketplaces, thereby building peace.

DTO’s signature events are the Global Business & Intercultural Peace Awards and the Business & Peace Symposium. American Airlines, the world’s largest carrier, is DTO’s official airline and partner.