Business: A powerful force for
interfaith understanding & peace


Web Summit: Freedom of religion in the tech business

17 Oct, 2017
  •    “Davos for geeks” – Bloomberg
  •    “The best tech conference on the planet” – Forbes
  •    “The giants of the web assemble” – Wall Street Journal
  •    “It defines the ecosystem” – The Guardian

On November 8 Brian Grim, President of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, will address freedom of religion in the tech business as an invited speaker at the world’s largest web technology conference in Lisbon, Portugal.*

Religious freedom in the workplace

The most successful businesses encourage an environment in which employees can bring their “full self” to work. Employees need to feel comfortable being who they are in the workplace, including being true to their core identity and beliefs. That includes recognizing and respecting an employee’s religion and its practice.

In today’s increasingly more competitive business environment, companies will need to draw upon the talent and experience of every employee. They can’t afford to leave anyone out. If they exclude or alienate someone for reasons having nothing to do with a person’s ability to do the job, they might also be excluding the next great business solution or the next great product idea. The very thing a company might need for its success. At the very least, they’ll be missing out on lots of really great talent.

And as companies become increasingly more global, they’ll need employees who reflect the increasing diversity of their customers. They’ll need employees who can relate to the daily experience of customers and who can see the customer point of view. For potentially billions of customers, religious belief and practice are a part of daily life. Having employees who understand that will not only help companies avoid costly missteps, it will also help companies develop products and services better tailed to customer needs. That’s an essential part of being competitive.

Religiously Diverse Tech Business

And the tech industry is extremely religiously diverse. For example, the Guardian recently profiled Silicon Valley as home to some of Christian Evangelicalism’s most innovative new, Hipster congregations.

But beyond Christianity, Silicon Valley is perhaps one of the most religiously diverse places in the U.S. The Silicon Valley Interfaith Association notes that the region “is home to some 50 Buddhist centers, the largest Sikh Gurdwara in North America, a Jain temple, a Silicon Valley “store front” (converted technology assembly plant) mosque whose Friday prayer service draws over 3000 participants, several Hindu centers that host cultural programs and religious ceremonies, one of the Zoroastrian fire temples in North America, numerous Baha’i spiritual assemblies, and synagogues—reflecting the fact that the Valley is home to one of the most religiously diverse landscapes in North America. The percentage of individuals who identify with faith traditions other than Christianity—10%– is double that of the United States; but we also have a higher percentage of residents—17%–who identify themselves as non-affiliated compared to other parts of the country.”

Faith and the Internet

Christopher Helland points out, religious actors themselves are also quite tech savvy.

Faith & the InternetFaith & the Internet

Christopher Helland, Associate Professor, Dalhousie University, Canada

Our world is undergoing massive transformations thanks to developments in internet and communication technologies. As Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum has noted, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is well under way and there is a dire need to develop a “shared view of how technology is affecting our lives and reshaping our economic, social, cultural, and human environments.”

Despite the enormous cultural and societal transformations associated with the technological developments of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, faith and religious practices continue to be important components of our wired world.

 Pope & Climate ChangeThe Pope & Climate Change

Christopher Helland, Associate Professor, Dalhousie University, Canada

“The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. – Pope Francis”

When Pope Francis finally released his encyclical on the environment, the world seemed ready to listen. In fact, for over a year, there had been so much hype over the anticipated, immense document that a single line went viral within minutes. The statement above was tweeted by the Pope on 18 June and seemed ideal for engaging all concerned and for communicating his unease. Within hours, his tweet was shared more than 30,000 times and it was quoted and referenced in more than 430,000 news articles. Throughout the day, the Pope continued to tweet short statements from his 183-page text, savvily inundating the online world, to the point at which almost everyone on the web that day was aware of the event.

* Web Summit started as a simple idea in 2010: Let’s connect the technology community with all industries, both old and new. It seemed to resonate. Web Summit has grown to become the “largest technology conference in the world”.

No conference has ever grown so large so fast. But we also pride ourselves in organising the “best technology conference on the planet”. In six short years, Web Summit has grown from 400 attendees to over 60,000 attendees from more than 150 countries. No technology conference has ever grown so large so fast.

Web Summit has become “Europe’s largest and most important technology marketplace”. An unrivalled global meeting place for the world’s most disruptive technology companies and those interested in how that disruption can transform their businesses and their lives.

Over 2,000 media from more than 100 markets came to Web Summit in 2016. It’s not just editors from many of the world’s most influential publications, but market-shaping industry reporters from leading technology and trade publications and blogs.

Horasis China Meeting

17 Oct, 2017

5-6 November 2017, Sheffield, United Kingdom

Top executives coming from or working in China will gather at the Horasis Meeting in Sheffield. There Brian Grim, President of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, will discuss how tapping into traditional Chinese values – including religious faith – is good for sustainable business.

Horasis will convene the 2017 Horasis China Meeting on 5-6 November in Sheffield, United Kingdom, co-hosted by the Sheffield City Region and the China Federation of Industrial Economics. More than 300 participants from business and government will join an intense two-day programme designed for senior decision makers from China and the world to identify business opportunities and innovative approaches to economic development.

Participants will discuss a wide range of issues related to China and its new economic leadership role. With the UK’s historic decision to leave the European Union, the summit will reflect on the implications for Chinese firms. The UK wants to build on its relationship with China, which has strengthened significantly in recent years, and establish a sound post-Brexit dialogue. The UK could be central to China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative, with the UK developing into a hub for construction and design competencies as well as other professional services linked to China’s outbound plan. Chinese partners are a major and growing part of Sheffield City Region’s unfolding success story, with the biggest Chinese investment outside London coming to the city centre earlier this year.

The Horasis China Meeting is the foremost annual gathering of Chinese business leaders and their global counterparts. The location of the meeting rotates annually, and has been held in Geneva/Switzerland (2005, 2006), Frankfurt/Germany (2007), Barcelona/Spain (2008), Lisbon/Portugal (2009), City of Luxembourg/Luxembourg (2010), Valencia/Spain (2011), Riga/Latvia (2012), The Hague/The Netherlands (2013), Lake Como/Italy (2014), Cascais/Portugal (2015) and Interlaken/Switzerland (2016).

Horasis: The Global Visions Community is an independent international organization committed to enacting visions for a sustainable future. In addition to the Horasis China Meeting, Horasis hosts the Horasis Global Meeting as well regional events focusing on India, Russia, South East Asia and the Arab world.

The co-chairs are: Anson Chan, Chairman, Bonds Group of Companies, Hong Kong SAR Guan Jianzhong, Chairman, Dagong Global Credit Rating, China Roger King, Member of the Supervisory Board, Orient Overseas (International), Hong Kong SAR Lu Yuebing, Chairman, TsingRay Investment Management, China Pierce Riemer, Director General, World Petroleum Council, United Kingdom Sun Ho, Chairman, Chang Cheng Insurance Brokers, China David Wright, Senior Advisor, Barclays International, United Kingdom Deborah Wince-Smith, President, United States Council on Competitiveness, USA Wu Yijian, Chairman, Ginwa Investments Holding Group, China William Y. Zhang, Chairman, EU-China Municipal Development Commission, China Zhao Jiasheng, Vice Chairman, China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association, China

Horasis is a global visions community committed to enact visions for a sustainable future. ( For more information, please contact: Communications and Public Affairs Horasis. The Global Visions Community phone: +41 79 305 3110 fax: +41 44 214 6502 e-mail:

Approaching Religious Literacy in International Affairs

17 Oct, 2017


The Fletcher Initiative on Religion, Law & Diplomacy  is a student-run organization at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.


The Initiative’s 2017 conference titled, Approaching Religious Literacy in International Affairs, brings together high-level practitioners and academics in the fields of Security, Conflict Resolution, and International Business to discuss the importance of religious literacy in their respective areas of expertise.

Registration opens October 1, 2017. We look forward to seeing you in November!


Friday, November 3rd 2017 | ASEAN Auditorium 

9:30am – Registration & Coffee in Hall of Flags

10:30am – Welcome: James Stavridis, Dean of The Fletcher School & Former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO

10:45am – Introduction to Religious Literacy: Dr. Diane L. Moore, Director of the Religious Literacy Project at Harvard University

11:15am – Panel 1: Religious Literacy in Security Operations, a case study of the Balkans

  • Moderator: Dr. Monica Toft, Professor of International Politics & Director of the Center for Strategic Studies
  • Fletcher Academic: Dr. Elizabeth Prodromou, Professor of Religion, Geopolitics, and Security
  • Sonja Licht, President of the Foreign Policy Council at the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Colonel Robert E. Hamilton, Professor of National Security and Strategy at the U.S. Army War College

12:30pm – Lunch & Employer Fair

1:30pm – Panel 2: Religious Literacy in International Business, a case study of Global Business Operations

  • Moderator: Paul Lambert, Assistant Dean at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business
  • Fletcher Academic: Dr. Ibrahim Warde, Professor of International Finance
  • Brian Grim, President of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RFBF)
  • Joyce S. Dubensky, CEO of Tanenbaum

2:45pm – Introduction: Gerard Sheehan, Executive Associate Dean of The Fletcher School

Keynote: Sean Callahan, CEO of Catholic Relief Services and Fletcher Class of 1988

3: 45pm – Coffee Break

4:00pm – Panel 3: Religious Literacy in Conflict Resolution, a case study of Yemen today

  • Moderator: Joyce S. Dubensky, CEO of Tanenbaum
  • Fletcher Academic: Dr. Eileen Babbitt, Professor of Practice of International Conflict Analysis and Resolution & Director of the Institute for Human Security
  • [Video Submission] Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Marwani, Founder of the Dar Al-Salaam Organisation in Yemen and Tanenbaum Peacekeeper in Action
  • Father Bryan Hehir, Catholic priest and the Parker Gilbert Montgomery Professor of the Practice of Religion and Public Life at Harvard Kennedy School
  • Darko Mocibob, Deputy Director of the Middle East and West Asia Division of the United Nations HQ

5:30 pm – Reception

First International ASEAN Religion, Economy and Law Conference

17 Oct, 2017

Scholars and practitioners from across ASEAN countries and the world will gather in Hanoi, Vietnam, October 23-24 to discuss the connections between religion, law and the economy (topics at end).*

Venue: University of Social Sciences and Humanities (USSH)

Example from Indonesia

Yaya Winarno Junardy likes to tell the story about how he was just a boy from a small village in East Java, Indonesia, when he arrived in Jakarta in the 1960s. Pretty soon, he had four jobs — as a street cigarette seller, a high school biology teacher, a university student and a casino worker. He worked seven days a week.

The experience taught a lesson he still applies in his business and philanthropy today.

“I found myself in four different environments with four different kinds of customers in four different subjects,” he told a group of National University of Singapore students in 2012. “It taught me how, as an individual, to adapt to different situations. I learned that in my life and in my work I have to adapt.”

Adapt he did, taking on a fifth job — an operator for IBM — before he had the university degree the company required. He spent 25 years with IBM in a variety of executive positions in cities around the world. He has also held high posts with Bank Universal, ExcelCom and several other Asia-based telecommunications corporations. He is one of the most prominent businessmen in Jakarta.

Junardy learned how to adapt to people of different faiths and cultures from his grandfather, an ethnic Chinese who ran the family’s copra business among Muslim, Christian and Buddhist customers and contractors. He has said he believes this early exposure to people of different faiths and cultures taught him to relate to and respect others.

Today, as president commissioner of Rajawali Corp., he has more time to pursue what he calls his “second chapter” — improving conditions for the working and lower-income classes of Indonesia. His purpose now is “to give back to society by teaching young people, working with the underprivileged, and giving joy to others,” he told the publication HQAsia in 2012.

That ability to adapt has served Junardy, who is 69, well in his philanthropic endeavors. He is president of the Indonesia Global Compact Network — part of the United Nations Global Compact that encourages businesses to commit to universally accepted principles in human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption values.

Since 2011, Junardy has led a consortium of Indonesian businesses in hosting mass weddings for low-income Indonesian couples of multiple faiths who cannot afford the fees — 60,000 Indonesian Rupiahs or about five U.S. dollars — required for a legal marriage.

Without an officially recognized marriage, Indonesian couples cannot obtain identity cards, access health care or obtain birth certificates for their children. Junardy estimates 36 percent of Indonesian households lack these documents, stigmatizing their children — and affecting their education, health and, ultimately, their jobs.

For Junardy, providing poor children with legal status is a fulfillment of their basic human rights. “They are like nobodies in their own country,” he said earlier this year in a speech at the Gobal Child Forum. “They are left behind.”

In 2012, as he was preparing to spend more time on philanthropy, Junardy offered advice for would-be Indonesian business leaders “Take advantage of opportunities and learn from experiences,” he told HQAsia. “You learn best in times of adversity. Get exposed to cross-cultural experiences early in life and learn to relate to others who are different from you. Most importantly, always try to understand the context of the problem before jumping to solutions.”

* Topics include: Religion and Economy; Taxation Issues on Religious Economic Activities: the Cases of USA and Europe; Entrepreneurs, Enterprise-religious economy: Influence of religion to economic growth and social harmony: the case of Malaysia; Church’s contribution to society; Economics of religion today in South East Asia; Business individuals and corporations; Economic religion: influence of religion on economic development and social harmony; Religion and law in South East Asia; Taxation, abilities and roles of religious organizations of South East Asia in providing of social welfare and public services: the Case of Singapore; Legal Status Issue of Religious Organizations in Legislation of South East Asian Countries during the Economic Community Building; Financial and Taxation Regulations for Religion in ASEAN; Economics of religion in socio-political ASEAN context; Protestant Communities in South East Asia and sustainable social-economic development; Entrepreneurs, religious people, politicians, researchers: Social and religious Harmony of in development of ASEAN community; Religious Consumption Issues in South East Asia; Religious Supply and Demand Change; Religious organizations as Social Welfare Providers; Religion and Economy: South East Asia Issues and Prospects.

Appreciating people of faiths different from your own is good for business

17 Oct, 2017

The most successful businesses encourage an environment in which employees can bring their “full self” to work. Employees need to feel comfortable being who they are in the workplace, including being true to their core identity and beliefs. That includes recognizing and respecting an employee’s religion and its practice.

In today’s increasingly more competitive business environment, companies will need to draw upon the talent and experience of every employee. They can’t afford to leave anyone out. If they exclude or alienate someone for reasons having nothing to do with a person’s ability to do the job, they might also be excluding the next great business solution or the next great product idea. The very thing a company might need for its success. At the very least, they’ll be missing out on lots of really great talent.

And as companies become increasingly more global, they’ll need employees who reflect the increasing diversity of their customers. They’ll need employees who can relate to the daily experience of customers and who can see the customer point of view. For potentially billions of customers, religious belief and practice are a part of daily life. Having employees who understand that will not only help companies avoid costly missteps, it will also help companies develop products and services better tailed to customer needs. That’s an essential part of being competitive.

Putting it to practice

The Corporate Pledge in Support of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) — which supports religious diversity and freedom in the workplace — sends two clear messages to current and prospective employees: (1) You can work here without changing who you are; and (2) the company respects all employees and will not favor certain employees over others … and that’s good for the business of all.

The FoRB Pledge is one component of a company’s overall strategy to value its employees and increase their loyalty for the benefit of customers and shareholders. The FoRB Pledge is a company’s public commitment to take reasonable steps to ensure that working at the company does not put employees at odds with their deeply held religious convictions.

Supporting Resources:

You can download a non-logo “Company version” of the following PowerPoint for use in your own presentations. You can insert your own company logo in the top right of each slide.

The FoRB Pledge – Company version

World Economic Forum – Eradicating Human Trafficking

30 Sep, 2017

Keeping the Promise of Eradicating Human Trafficking

  • Monday 18 September
  • 10:30 – 12:00 World Economic Forum Office New York
  • Moderator: Brian Grim, President, Religious Freedom & Business Foundation
  • Opening Remarks: Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, President, Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies

Every year, thousands of people around the world are victims of human trafficking. Women and children are particularly affected, representing 70% of those whose most basic human rights are violated through this modern form of slavery.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Goals 5, 8 and 16) demands that “immediate and effective” measures be taken to eradicate human trafficking, forced labour and modern slavery. Religious leaders and institutions have engaged in a global, coordinated effort to reach such goals, aiming to restore freedom and a hopeful future for all those enslaved and trafficked.

How can the vital work of faith communities be leveraged, and innovation and technology contribute, to achieving the human and moral imperative of eradicating the trafficking in human beings?

Dimensions addressed: Creating space and building trust for collaboration; Improving efficiency of supportive social efforts; and Leveraging technology and the media in the fight against human trafficking.

Overview by Brian Grim

Religious dynamics themselves – including how free religious groups are to engage in the public life of a society – offer promising possibilities for eradicating human trafficking. For example, a study we conducted at the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation finds that governments with low respect for religious freedom are more than twice as likely to be complicit in human trafficking as governments with high respect for religious freedom.

There are at least two reasons that governments that respect religious freedom are less likely to turn a blind eye to human trafficking. First, religious freedom is part of a bundled commodity of human rights and freedoms, such as freedom of speech, press, assembly, conscience and petition.

Second, governments that respect religious freedom reap the great practical benefit of religious freedom, that is, religious freedom sets people and communities of faith free to do good. Where this freedom is restricted, this force for good is stifled and civil society is much weaker and less resourceful and resilient as a result.

Let me describe how this second factor – setting faith communities free to do good – works using the example of Bakhita House, a Catholic ministry in London providing women escaping human trafficking with the safety and support to allow them to begin the recovery process.

Bakhita House is named after St. Josephine Bakhita, born around 1869 in the Darfur region of Sudan. She was sold into slavery but after a tortuous and lengthy journey found freedom in Italy, eventually taking religious vows as a sister with the Canossian Daughters of Charity. Her life continues to inspire Catholics to get involved with eradicating modern slavery.

Bakhita House offers women a range of services including emergency support, psychosexual therapy, legal and financial assistance, mentoring, and help with accessing accommodation. Guests of Caritas Bakhita House benefit from their values and principles of action:

  • 1. Love – expressed in compassionate support and long term commitment
  • 2. Respect – for the gift and dignity of each individual
  • 3. Community – a welcome which creates friendship and belonging, including allowing women to stay twice as long in the house as women can in government schemes
  • 4. Spirituality – nurtured by that Joy in creative activity which lifts the spirit

It’s important to understand that these values and principles come from a world view that begins with the proposition that all people – no matter how common or exceptional or how saintly or evil – are created in the image of God. This world view is also one that demands not just love of God and neighbor, but also love of enemy. Thus, when religious communities look for solutions to problems like slavery and human trafficking, they have a wider view. To demonstrate this, a prayer for the end of human trafficking promoted by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has a rather surprising petition. In addition to praying “that those who are trafficked might know healing and justice,” the prayer petitions “that traffickers will come to repentance and conversion.”

I might even be so bold as to suggest that this petition represents an insight, a dot, so to speak, that needs to be better connected to the whole. Might a focus on better understanding what leads traffickers to abuse and enslave others lead to new strategies not only to rescue those enslaved, but also convert traffickers from their wicked ways by repenting of the evil they do? At the very least, the religious sentiments point out that the task is not just to rescue those enslaved, but also the audacious idea of helping the thief on the cross also repent and be saved.

This admittedly Catholic way of looking at the problem, however, is one that engages multiple actors and not just the victims. In particular, the Bakhita House is part of a multi-pronged strategy that has not only the typical multi-stakeholders, but also some unique partners, including the police who are a technology partner for the House: not for eavesdropping, but for interviewing facilities that can be used by law enforcement in the relaxed atmosphere of the House to investigate the crimes and apprehend perpetrators where possible.

Additionally, the Centre for the Study of Modern Slavery (CSMS) at St Mary’s (Catholic) University is engaged with Bakhita House in independent research to provide evidence that informs policy responses to modern slavery and human trafficking both in the UK and internationally. Indeed, government responses continue to be hampered by key knowledge gaps.

Bakhita House also partners with Penningtons Manches LLP, a leading UK law firm. The firm supports Bakhita House with charitable donations and allows their staff to undertake pro bono work on behalf of Bakhita House and the women the House serves.

Bakhita House also attracts dozens of community volunteers to help with everything from facilities upkeep to building friendships with the guests.

And finally, for the long term, the Bakhita House initiative recognizes that the problem will only be solved through education and public awareness – impacting children, employers, consumers, hiring practices, etc. Therefore, their ongoing campaigns and programmes are being designed with social media, events, and advocacy efforts direct to decision-makers.

Bakhita House is an example of multi-stakeholder action. From my brief description of Bakhita House, think of the following three questions which will guide all our conversations this morning:

  1. 1. How is the initiative unlocking additional resources, innovation or increasing scale through a multi-stakeholder approach?
  2. 2. What other actors (civil society, governments, business, investors, experts) must be engaged to further boost impact and take the initiatives to the next level?
  3. 3. As you look across the issue of human trafficking, what dots need to be better connected among the various players? Is there a game changer missing?

Keep these three questions in mind as you listen to opening remarks by Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah, President, Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies. Shaykh bin Bayyah is assisted with translation by Shaykh Hamsa Yusuf, President, Zaytuna College.

Following Shaykh bin Bayyah we’ll have the opportunity to hear briefly from four distinguish panelists, after which we’ll break into discussion groups and finish by coming back together to give input on main ideas for advancing work on eradicating human trafficking. Our four panelists are:

  • — Agnes R. M. ABUOM is the Moderator-President of the World Council of Churches Central Committee. She also represents the Anglican Church of Kenya.
  • — Jeanne Bourgault, President, Internews, responsible for overall strategic management of the organization and its programmes in 49 countries around the world.
  • — Rob Leslie, CEO and founder of Sedicii, which allows the secure authentication of individuals, using a novel technology called zero knowledge proof, where identity can be proven without exposing or sharing private data.
  • — Robert Wilson-Black, Chief Executive Officer, Sojourners, with many years experience in higher education as well as in developing next-generation socially responsible investing.

Join us in Washington DC 5th Oct: The Business Case for Religious Freedom

30 Sep, 2017

This year, the JRCLS Religious Liberty Day will feature two new religious liberty panel discussions starting at 4:00 p.m. and ending at 6:30 p.m. at the Mayflower Hotel on 5th Oct.

The first panel at 4:00 p.m. will address the economic impact of religious liberty, as well as diversity training for business leaders interested in promoting religious diversity in the workplace. This panel will feature Brian Grim, Nathan Walker, Debbie Marriott Harris, and Paul Lambert.

The second panel at 5:20 p.m. will address promoting religious liberty within your personal sphere of influence, and provide updates on religious liberty legislative initiatives. This panel will feature Tim Schultz, Montse Alvarado, Elder Keetch, and Thomas F. Farr. These panels will be open to the public and free of charge. See more details and bios below.

7pm Awards dinner for Baroness Elizabeth Berridge requires registration.

Economy Panel (Intro by Brian Grim)

One year ago, my daughter and I published a groundbreaking study on the $1.2 trillion U.S. religion economy that not only has been made into an award-winning short film but was also covered by scores of news outlets including the Washington Post, Fox Business News, NPR, BBC, Business Daily, etc.

Some of the coverage went viral. The UK Guardian’s story on the research, for example, was re-shared 18,833 times. By comparison, its headline story on Nov. 9 2016 announcing that “Donald Trump wins presidential election” was shared just 17,126 times. So it’s fair to say that the Guardian’s readers found the US election results surprising and perhaps even shocking. But by these metrics, they found the news that religion contributes to the economy even more shocking.

At the same time, Andrew Soergel, the Economy Reporter for U.S. News & World Report, noted that this religious economic boost to the U.S. economy may be in danger. His article’s title summarizes his fear: “Could Religion’s Decline Spell Damnation for the U.S. Economy? As America loses its faith, the domestic economy could pay the price.”

One of the additional knock-on effects of a less religiously active population is that support for religious freedom is less robust. And this is also an economic weight because another study that colleagues from BYU and I published found that religious freedom is one of only a handful of factors that is independently connected to economic growth. The study also found that the vast majority of pillar of global competitiveness – as measured by the World Economic Forum – are stronger in in countries with high respect for religious freedom.

In addition to those two studies, I’ll mention two more studies to help kick off our discussion. A 2013 national survey found that 36% of American workers have experienced or witnessed workplace religious discrimination. That sounds like a bigger problem than people recognize.

And indeed it is, as I found in a recent analysis of U.S. data. Religious discrimination cases in the workplace have more than doubled over the past two decades. In 2016, there were 3,825 religion-based charges filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) compared less than half that number (1,709 ) in 1997. By way of comparison, charges of LGBT-based discrimination, which have also been on the rise, numbered 1,768 in 2016, fewer than half the number of religious discrimination complaints. While the corporate world has paid significant attention to LGBT issues with most corporations rolling out major plans to address discrimination based on sexual orientation, there are very few corporations – if any – paying equal attention to discrimination based on employee’s religion or belief.

COMMON-SENSE BUSINESS: Principles for Profitable Leadership

29 Sep, 2017


By Theodore Roosevelt Malloch and Whitney MacMillan

Common sense and prudence have long been among the guiding tenets of society, but in today’s economy they have been completely abandoned in the interest of blindly maximizing profits. Common- Sense Business shows that this current economic model is both detrimental and unsustainable, and that we must transform the global economy along the lines of common sense toward the common good. Ted Malloch, a thought leader and policy influencer in global economic strategy, and Whitney MacMillan, the former chairman and CEO of the world’s largest private corporation, draw on recent research, history’s greatest minds, and their own successes to explain that ethically driven business is both a moral and financial necessity.

Inspired by Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, this work explains to readers in all walks of life that ethically driven business will lead to better long-term profits, larger customer bases and more positive customer relations, and a holistically improved business. This book is a must-read for business owners, entrepreneurs, students, and businessmen and women in all sectors of the economy.

Advance Praise for Common-Sense Business

“This spectacularly insightful book identifies how the recklessness of imprudence has led us to the brink of disaster—and how to fix it. Every responsible executive needs prudence practiced as common sense.”

Dr. Paul J. Zak, president, Ofactor

“Has the potential to transform how all companies are run. Nothing could be more valuable!”

Mark Drewell, CEO, Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative (GRLI)

“A magnum opus written in simple words and built on real-life cases, reminding every modern person what a cardinal virtue they have easily forgotten while searching in vain for ‘solutions.’”

Fanglu Wang, chairman, CITIC Capital (China)

“This book provides a compelling case for placing the critical virtue of prudence at the center of the global economy.”

Peter S. Heslam, director, Transforming Business, University of Cambridge

“Every business person, in fact, every person, needs to consider the purpose and significance of their life and enterprise. Common-Sense Business offers such a compass.”

James Amos, former CEO of Mail Boxes, Etc.

“Thus far we have seen value only in smart organizations. This book shifts the paradigm by moving the focus from smart to wise. We all need to seriously relearn from this book.”

Jitin Goyal, president, Banking and Financial Services, Virtusa Polaris

“When we seem to be educating young MBAs to shoot faster than their shadow, this book makes a very compelling case to educate them to be courageous leaders, who are conscious of their decisions and that these decisions affect other people and our environment.”

Juan Pablo, Cerda CEO, TECO (Chile)

From two of the world’s most successful business leaders comes Common-Sense Business: Principles for Profitable Leadership (Skyhorse Publishing hardcover; October 17, 2017; $26.99)— an accessible, actionable guide to better leadership, increased profits, and a more sustainable economic model predicated on prudence and socially conscious business.

About the Authors:

Theodore Roosevelt Malloch is chairman and CEO of Global Fiduciary Governance LLC, a leading strategy thought leadership company. Malloch conceptualizes and executes some of today’s most dynamic international projects. He was president of the World Economic Development Congress sponsored by CNN, where Lady Margaret Thatcher dubbed him a “global sherpa.”

Whitney MacMillan is the former chairman and CEO of Cargill Corporation, the largest privately-held firm in the United States in terms of revenue.

Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.

307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor New York, NY 10018

(212) 643-6816

What are the Limits to Religious Expression in the Workplace?

22 Sep, 2017

A Sep 22, 2017 article by By Dana Wilkie published in the Society for Human Resource Management looks at this very issue. She asks “Can Religious Gatherings at Work Cross the Line?”

She writes: “An employee sends an e-mail to his entire department announcing that he’s going to start praying for the workplace each morning and inviting colleagues to join him in his office to pray to Jesus. He also asks co-workers to send him a list of personal concerns they’d like him to pray about.

“Should you allow this?

“The issue came up this week during a Society for Human Resource Management SHRM Connect online discussion.”


Brian Grim, president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, offers some basic principles to keep in mind:

Title VII in U.S. law gives people the right to have their religious beliefs and practices accommodated in the workplace, within reasonable limits. People have a right to express their faith in the workplace as long as they don’t harass others or lead people to mistake their private expressions of faith for the employer’s views.

For example, employees can talk to coworkers about their beliefs, hang a religious picture or keep personal religious items at their work stations, wear religious clothing or jewelry, have personal devotionals (like reading scriptures in the break room), or even start a voluntary prayer group, that is unless the company has job-related policies that apply the same to everyone (such as keeping desks clear of any personal items when customers can see them) and thus can’t give an accommodation. If the company lets others express their personalities, religious people can too. Certainly, if a coworker asks another person in the company not to talk with him or her about his/her faith, then they need to stop. Continuing could be harassment.

Regarding supervisors, they must be careful not to inadvertently pressure subordinates or make them think they’ll get special treatment or access if they adopt the supervisors beliefs or, in this case, participate in the prayer initiative.

If a company allows employees to use company email for other personal initiatives, like announcing a car wash, or a gay pride march or a spontaneous happy hour, they should allow other personal requests. To single out religion as the only taboo topic could get the company into legal hot water.

Of course, if the company has a general policy against any personal announcements, then those of a religious nature would not be permitted. Even if someone has been out of line in a religious announcement, the best course of action may be to help people understand what’s appropriate and inappropriate rather than forbidding the topic altogether, thereby making religious employees feel like all other personal identities are acceptable except theirs.

Companies can forbid private, non-work meetings and gatherings on work premises. However, if they allow some non-work meetings, then they would be liable of religious discrimination if the forbid only religion-related meetings. Nevertheless, any meeting that leads to or involves harassment or exclusion of others would not be accommodated. For instance, a women’s empowerment meeting shouldn’t forbid men to join. Likewise a prayer meeting should turn anyone away due to their beliefs (religious or otherwise).

Follow this link for more resources including a video, and this link for in-company training related to workplace inclusion and diversity. Also, company’s can demonstrate their commitment to these values by signing the Corporate Pledge on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

Corporate Pledge on Freedom of Religion or Belief

27 Aug, 2017

by Amy Andrus and Athelia Graham, 2017 ICLRS Student Fellows

Brian J. Grim, founder and president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, conducted a workshop at the 2017 Religious Freedom Annual Review entitled “Using Business to Advance Religious Freedom.”

Grim discussed the Corporate Pledge on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB), a new instrument medium-to-large companies can sign that publicly demonstrates a commitment to practice no preference or discrimination based on employees’ religion. Grim asserted that the Pledge sends a clear message to current and prospective employees of a given business that “you can work here without changing who you are.” According to Grim, FoRB can become “one component of a company’s overall strategy to value its employees and increase their loyalty,” which benefits employees, employers, customers, and shareholders alike.

Grim’s Religious Freedom & Business Foundation is also developing a corporate diversity index, based on a 0–100 scale, that will rate workplaces worldwide on their religious freedom policies and practices. Companies that reasonably accommodate employees’ religious beliefs will receive favorable scores in addition to other benefits, such as boosting employee morale, increasing employee retention, reducing religious-based litigation, and avoiding harm to reputation. Grim stated that statistics indicate promoting religious freedom in the workplace and elsewhere is associated with more general social values as well, such as gender equality, sustainable economic development, reduced corruption, better education, and healthier human and social development.

According to Grim, religion will become a more contested space in our society, given statistics that decreasing numbers of Americans affiliate with a particular religion, but those who affiliate with a religion do so more strongly. He shared a prediction that “the next ‘big thing’ companies will have to navigate is religion.” Therefore, Grim argued, the Pledge is timely and will serve as a preventive measure to keep religious freedom and expression issues from becoming problematic in the workplace.

The four commitments of the pledge are 1) promoting sustainable and innovative business through protecting freedom of religion or belief, 2) promoting non-discrimination and non-harassment on the basis of religion or belief, 3) promoting religious accommodations and inclusion of religious beliefs, and 4) protecting and promoting freedom of religion or belief in our communities.

The pledge as well as additional information and resources for employers and employees to implement the pledge can be found below:

Video Recording | PowerPoint Presentation | Corporate Pledge