Working for workplace religious diversity, equity & inclusion


Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom: Economic Issues

July 25, Washington, DC

At the first-ever Ministerial to advance religious freedom hosted by US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, Brian Grim, President of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, made the business case for religious freedom at the July 25th gathering of delegates from some 80 nations.

Grim was joined by Aleem Walji, CEO, Aga Khan Foundation USA. They will discuss how greater religious freedom supports open markets and economic growth and how religious freedom allows faith communities to support sustainable development and economic prosperity.

July 27, Night Studio, Washington DC

Sam Brownback, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, then introduced a panel on July 27 where Grim also discussed how religious freedom contributes to a strong economy, which in turn contributes to a nation’s security.

This event was at the Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum Institute/Newseum and was streamed live (a podcast will be available soon).

The Business Case

Religion impacts the workplace and the marketplace, our coworkers and partners as well as our customers and clients.

Demographers project that our planet will have 2.3 billion more religiously affiliated people by 2050 compared with just 0.1 billion more religiously unaffiliated people. That’s like religion “winning” 23-to-1.

This religious growth is also changing the global marketplace.

Today, three of the top five economies are Christian-majority. But in 40 years, only one is projected to be. The other four top economies in 2050 will include countries where Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and the unaffiliated predominate.


Research shows that this religious growth can be good for the workplace and the bottom lines of businesses as long as it is accompanied by respect for freedom of religion or belief by governments and societies. In such countries, innovative strength is more than twice as high as in countries where governments and societies don’t respect freedom of religion or belief. So, freedom to believe – or not believe – is good for business.

However, since 2009, the number of people living in countries with high religious restrictions and hostilities has increased from 4.8 to 5.9 billion people – that’s an increase of 1.1 billion more people living in countries where freedom of religion or belief is under duress, based on studies from the Pew Research Center.

The same Pew study shows that social hostilities involving religion in the U.S. are high. One place we see this is in the number of American workers who have experienced or witnessed religious discrimination in their workplace.

A recent Tanenbaum survey finds that 36% of American workers, or about 50 million people, have experienced or witnessed some form of religious discrimination or non-accommodation in their workplace. And the data on the US suggest and even a larger global problem. Despite this, religious diversity and inclusion is not on the minds of many companies.

Companies have rightly paid a lot of attention to other diversity and inclusion issues, such as sexual orientation. Now, religion is the next big thing businesses need to pay attention to. In 2016, for instance, there were twice as many workplace discrimination complaints over religion as complaints over sexual orientation.

In 2016, the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation launched a Corporate Pledge on Religious Diversity and Inclusion. Since then, CEOs around the world have taken the pledge on behalf of their companies. Building on this pledge, RFBF with the Religious Freedom Center at the Freedom Forum Institute/Newseum provide in-house seminars on how your company benefits from encouraging employees to bring their whole selves – faith and all – to work.

Check out our corporate training program

Security and Religious Freedom: How Do We Protect Both?

Sam Brownback, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, then introduced a panel on July 27 where Grim also discussed how religious freedom contributes to a strong economy, which in turn contributes to a nation’s security.

This event was held at the Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum Institute/Newseum and was streamed live (a podcast will be available soon). Security and Religious Freedom: How Do We Protect Both?

Too often, governments across the world use security as a rationale to impose overly broad limits on religious exercise. Such limitations of religious freedom, however, harm security, social stability and economic health.

Program panelists included Brian Grim, president of the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation, Neil Hicks, senior director for advocacy at the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, and Haroon Azar, program director for the UCLA Initiative on Security and Religious Freedom. Asma Uddin, senior scholar of religious freedom at the Religious Freedom Center, will moderate the conversation.

In the News

‘Religious freedom good for business’ – Brian Grim

By Devin Watkins, Vatican News

Religious freedom “creates a business climate that is good for pretty much all business except bullet and bomb makers,” Brian Grim tells participants in the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom hosted by the US Department of State.

The US State Department is hosting an international summit on the topic of religious freedom.

Dr. Brian Grim, President and founder of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, is a speaker at the event taking place on July 24-26 in Washington, D.C. He spoke to Devin Watkins about his message for the 80 foreign ministers and governmental representatives in attendance.

Dr. Grim said he told them that religious freedom has strong ties with sustainable development.

“It’s associated with other human rights, and it creates a business climate that is good for pretty much all business, except bullet and bomb makers,” he said.

How is religious freedom good for business? When asked how exactly religious freedom is better for business, Dr. Grim gave three ways the two relate. “First, it creates a peaceful climate that is conducive to social and integral human development,” he said. … Continue reading (or listening)

Deseret News talked with Brian Grim at Religious Freedom Ministerial: 3 key takeaways from this week’s first-of-its-kind State Department religious freedom event 

By Kelsey Dallas

“At every event, there were senior U.S. government leaders and State Department officials,” said Brian Grim, president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation.

Grim described attending a discussion led by Sam Brownback, the ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, and John Sullivan, who serves as deputy secretary of state under Pompeo. The two men offered some comments and then turned over the microphone to the audience for comments, questions and recommendations.

“We had the number two guy in the State Department listening and taking notes on what people are seeing,” said Grim, who has led and attended religious freedom conferences around the world.

Vice President Mike Pence, Ambassador Nikki Haley and Mick Mulvaney, who directs the Office of Management and Budget, also spoke at ministerial events. Read full article …

U.S. gathering on religious freedom sets up competing narratives

The event is drawing dozens of countries and hundreds of activists, some who say they’ll call out what they see as Trump’s human rights hypocrisy.

“We’re living in the eye of a paradox: Both narratives are out there and perception is reality,” said Chris Seiple, [an RFBF Board Member and] a religious-freedom expert who advised the ministerial organizers. He said the Trump administration is trying to tackle the topic without favoring any one religious group, and in doing so is setting “a new precedent in diplomatic history on this issue in that it is bringing together governments and grass roots — top-down and bottom-up meet.”

Read more …

Why teaching kids to respect religious differences can change the world

Nurturing a passion for religious freedom in young people is different than making a case for this human right to adults, wrote Brian Grim, president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, in an email.

Adults respond well to theological or pragmatic arguments, while kids benefit from imaginative activities. “With younger children, stories of people overcoming differences and being friends are more important” than lectures on how religious freedom boosts a country’s gross domestic product, he said.

Read more …

Why Religion Is The Solution To The Commonwealth’s Problems

Confronting the demons of religious intolerance may not seem appealing – but it will strengthen the Commonwealth and society at large

When we begin to recognise that strengthening FoRB around the Commonwealth will lead to a more prosperous and stable world, we will also begin to see trade, security, democracy and climate justice bolstered, too.

This isn’t just wishful thinking. Research conducted by Brian J. Grim at the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation has highlighted how a focus on religious freedom can be extremely favourable for business and trade. According to Grim, making religious freedom a part of corporate social responsibility can produce many positive benefits to company operations, improve trading relationships, and lead to positive changes in communities where freedom of religion has not traditionally been respected as a human right.

Read the entire article by Preet Gill, the Labour MP for Birmingham Edgbaston.

RADIO: The first ever ministerial to advance religious freedom taking place in Washington D.C. this week is a strong indication of a commitment to religious liberty. It is important to remember that true religious liberty requires the foundation of pluralism. Even as we have the freedom to bring the mind of Christ to bear on Ariana Grande’s new obscene music video for her song “God is a Woman,” she has the freedom for its creation and promotion.

Brian Grim, president of the religious Freedom & Business Foundation, describes how religious and economic freedom and human flourishing are integrally connected.

Os Guinness, prominent social critic, speaker and editor and author of more than 30 books the latest entitled Last Call for Liberty,  talked with Carmen about what freedom really is, where it comes from, why it is threatened and what it requires.

Listen …