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When a Company’s Public Positions are in Tension with Employees’ Beliefs

30 Apr, 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


Especially in this age of social media, diverse employees passionately hold a wide range of views on public policy and legislative issues. So, when a company takes a public position on a particular broad social cause outside the scope of normal business operations, some employees may be disappointed while others may applaud. The matter becomes especially personal when the issue touches employees’ core faith and beliefs.

The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation* has some helpful guidelines for navigating these tensions. Our premise is that the workplace offers forums for civil discourse in which people can lean against larger social trends toward division, fear and rancor. While it’s impossible to please everyone in a diverse community, our workplaces can be arena where people can find ways to disagree and yet respect, value and even love one another.

We hope you’ll plan to join us in person for the third annual Religious Freedom & Business Foundation conference, May 23–25 in Washington, DC, where experts will engage the audience in a provocative and insightful discussion of this important topic.

Among other things, at the conference we’ll discuss the general legal landscape and then delve into proven strategies for navigating these tensions. We’ll talk about how to plan in advance, how to weigh the effect that the company’s public position may have on various stakeholders (including the possible effect on recruitment and retention, among other things), the helpful role that can be played by representatives from faith-oriented employee resource groups, the importance of establishing a clear policy on religious freedom, and available resources on this gripping topic.

This session is not intended to discourage companies from taking public positions on matters of importance to the larger community (though sometimes, the process may lead to a company choice not to have the company speak on a particular issue). It simply seeks to help companies engage broad social issues in a sensitive way.

We’ll include an opportunity for Q&A and comment from attendees, shepherded by Dr. Johnny Parker, a noted facilitator of “Courageous Conversations.”

It will be an especially practical and useful session. We can’t wait to see you there. You can register to attend here.


* The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RFBF) is a non-partisan, nonpolitical, multi-faith registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization in the United States with work worldwide. It does not take a position on current political debates. See our Guide to Religion in the Workplace here.

Immediate Release: 2022 Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards

28 Apr, 2022

IMMEDIATE RELEASE (Washington DC): American Airlines CCO & G100 Founder to Receive Top Awards

Alison Taylor, Chief Customer Officer at American Airlines, and Dr. Harbeen Arora Rai, Founder of the G100 Group of 100 Global Women Leaders, will receive the 2022 Global Business & Interfaith Peace Gold Medals at a ceremony in Washington DC on May 24.

Alison Taylor’s tireless commitment to caring for others while connecting the world exemplifies the perfect synergy of compassion and passion! Her global leadership in the world’s largest airline combined with her love for people, peace, and faith has been a shining light for team members at American Airlines during one of the most challenging years our world has ever seen.

Dr. Harbeen Arora Rai is a passionate supporter of interfaith and intercultural collaboration and partnerships, inspired by the Indian guru Sri Sathya Sai Baba. She is devoted to working with people of all faiths and beliefs for the empowerment of girls and women worldwide.

The 2022 Awards will be given on the evening May 24, 2022, at Dare to Overcome, the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s annual allyship conference and business for peace symposium.*

The Global Business & Intercultural Peace Awards have been given in tandem with the Paralympic Games as part of former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s UN Global Compact Business for Peace initiative in Rio de Janeiro (2016), Seoul (2018) and Tokyo (2021). In 2022 they will be given in Washington DC and then move onward to New Delhi in 2023 in tandem with the G20 Meetings hosted by India.

In 2021, the Awards were held in Tokyo in August and were keynoted by former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. Awardees included the CEOs of Intel and Tyson Foods, both Fortune 100 companies. Previous CEO recipients come from companies as diverse as Ernst & Young, Hyundai, Kimberly Clark, and Berkshire Capital, and countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Mozambique, Myanmar, Netherlands, the Palestinian territories, South Korea, UAE, Uganda, the United Kingdom and the United States.


Dare to Overcome is also the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s annual in-person gathering for Fortune 500 faith-oriented employee resource groups (ERGs) and corporate chaplains to come together to share best practices and to build supportive, intersecting networks nationally and globally at the three-day event. All faiths and beliefs are welcome.

 

GENTRI to perform their hit “Dare” @ Dare To Overcome

27 Apr, 2022

GENTRI to perform their hit “Dare” @ Dare To Overcome – GENTRI, the Gentleman’s Trio, will provide the musical entertainment for the 2022 Signature Global Conference Dare To Overcome Gala in Washington DC at the Catholic University of America’s Busch School of Business on May 24, 2022, sponsored by the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation. More information here.


GENTRI has performed all over the United States and across the globe. They have shared the stage with world-renowned talent, including Tony Award-winning powerhouse Kristin Chenoweth, international tenor sensation Alfie Boe, Tony Award-winning vocalist Idina Menzel, and legendary rock bands Journey, Blondie and One Republic.

GENTRI has released three EP’s and three full length albums, the most recent being “Noel”, GENTRI’s second Christmas album, which debuted #6 on iTunes pop charts, just under Taylor Swift. Almost all of GENTRI’s albums have reached #1 on various Billboard charts.

The Gents are also known for their award-winning music videos, such as their cover of Let it be, which have been featured on news outlets around the world including ABC World News, NBC Nightly News and Inside Edition.

There are more people enslaved today than any other time in history: How Company ERGs Can Make a Difference

19 Apr, 2022

Join us at Dare to Overcome (May 23-25, 2022) to see how your company’s employee resource group (ERG) can make a difference in ending human trafficking.

Bill Clark, A21’s Chief Advancement Officer, will give us the latest information on the global crisis of human trafficking, including insights on how the war in Ukraine is contributing to the challenges. He will provide practical resources ERGs can utilize immediately.

Following Bill Clark’s presentation will be a plenary panel by Dell Technologies Interfaith ERG, sharing how they partnered with A21 in a worldwide campaign. Any company looking to engage on this topic won’t want to miss these important sessions!

When? May 23, Dare to Overcome afternoon sessions. REGISTER NOW


 

Today, over 40 million Men, Women and Children are trapped as Modern-Day Slaves

19 Apr, 2022

by Matt Friedman, CEO, Mekong Club | Guest Post in Blog Series, Authenticity & Connection


Human trafficking, which represents the recruitment, transport, receipt and harboring of people for the purpose of exploiting their labor, affects almost all parts of the world. Globally, it is estimated that there are over 40 million men, women and children in situations in modern day slavery today. These victims, who can be found in factories, construction sites, within fisheries and sex venues, are forced to work for little or no pay, deprived of their freedom, and often subjected to unimaginable suffering.

While most people think that human trafficking focuses primarily on women and girls being forced into the sex industry, this represents only about 25 percent of the total cases. The remaining 75 percent fall under the heading “forced labor.” Out of this figure, about 60 percent of the victims are associated with manufacturing supply chains, which begin with a grower or producer and end as a finished product purchased by consumers in the retail market.

Over more than a decade, the international human trafficking community has not come close to meeting its full potential. While individual, small-scale success stories can be found, many victims are never identified. For example, the 2022 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report) was only able to account for 108,000 victims receiving assistance globally. During the same time period, there were less than 8,000 convictions. This means that less than 0.2 percent of the victims are being identified and assisted each year. This number has remained unchanged for several years.

Why are these numbers so low? According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), the profits generated from this illicit trade are estimated to exceed US$150 billion annually. But despite the size of the problem, annual global donor contributions add up to only around US$350 million, which represents approximately one percent of total profits generated by the criminals. With this in mind, it is not surprising that the number of trafficked persons continues to increase. In fact, the UN has indicated that there are more slaves in the world today than at any other time in history.

For the world to really make a difference in addressing this problem, the private sector must become a player in this fight. Why should the business world care about this? First, most forced labor cases have some direct or indirect link with the private sector. Unlike the United Nations and other civil society organizations, the private sector knows how to root out bad businesses and already has the necessary skills and capabilities to tackle the problem, e.g. legal, compliance, accounting, communications, and financial expertise. Second, labor trafficking often under-cuts the price of legitimate businesses, offering an unfair advantage to those involved. Third, when human trafficking conditions are found in a given business sector, it can result in an entire industry receiving a “bad name.” This trend is emerging in the electronics, garment, chocolate and seafood sectors. Fourth, this topic is becoming a growing public concern (similar to environmental issues), with more and more consumers asking questions about whether the products they buy are “slave free.” Fifth, with new legislation out of North America, Australia, and Europe, it will be expected that most ESG declarations address this topic. Finally, and most importantly, slave-like conditions have been and will always be incompatible with good business.

What can retail and manufacturing companies and faith-oriented employee resource groups do to play a role in addressing the problem? First, they can look at their business to determine if there are any risk factors. Based on this risk, companies can take specific measures to maintain a slave-free supply chain, including:

  • — Conducting investigative audits that illuminate the real conditions faced by workers throughout the continuum of the supply chain and describe them in qualitative and quantitative degrees to top-level corporate decision-makers;
  • — Conducting action-oriented training for staff in global corporations and their suppliers with the goal of expanding awareness and helping reduce the negative impacts of global sourcing;
  • — Consulting at the points of maximum leverage on how to implement effective human rights protections within global businesses; and
  • — Facilitating multi-stakeholder initiatives that join private sector business, workers, labour, civil society and governments to focus on both strategic and practical levels with the goal of achieving positive social change.

In addition to these internal actions, companies can also ask themselves the basic question – “What if this was our problem — how would we go about addressing it?” Every corporation is encouraged to explore ways of using their skills, expertise and comparative advantage to be part of the solution. For example, a law firm could come up with legal remedies. A communications corporation could come up with technology and IT solutions. Having these contributions would help to come up with new, innovative approaches.

But the actions don’t have to stop here. In addition to corporate responses to this issue, professionals from all walks of life can also be a part of the solution. For example, you can learn about today’s slavery and help educate your friends and family. You can consult with the internet for up-to-date information on this topic. Every person reached potentially adds another soldier to the fight.

For more information about this topic, please consider reading my new Penguin book, WHERE WERE YOU?: A PROFILE OF MODERN SLAVERY. In this memoir, I explore the early days of meeting modern slavery survivors and recount true stories of enslavement in Asia. I recall painful moments that literally changed my life, reflect back on the different approaches to fighting human trafficking over the last 35 years and give an account of the early beginnings of the fight against modern slavery before the phrase “human trafficking” was adopted. Here is a short fireside chat (9 minutes) to describe why I wrote the book.

As a final note, I believe that collective actions have the greatest chance of impact – and that an army of ordinary people working together can change the world.

Dare to Overcome Fortune 500 Service Internships for Students

15 Apr, 2022

Student Track

Students, have you ever wondered whether you have to leave your faith at the door when you come into work? You don’t! As Ellyn Shook, the Chief People Officer of the global accounting and advising firm Accenture, says: “Stop wondering if Faith is a workplace issue. It is.”

Come join us at the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s 2022 National Faith@Work Conference “Dare to Overcome” (May 23-25) in Washington, DC, at the Busch School of Business, to learn how employees at some of America’s best companies bring their whole selves to work, faith and all.

Students can register as regular individual participants and have the option to stay on the beautiful campus of The Catholic University of America, home to the Busch School of Business.

All faiths and beliefs are welcome!


Student Internship Opportunity

Alternatively, full student scholarships (including conference registration, on-campus room and board, but not including travel) are available for students volunteering for “Dare to Overcome Fortune 500 Service Internships”. Interns will:

  • – Arrive on May 22 for special orientation and networking.
  • – Be part of welcome teams, staff meet-and-greet tables, and serve as VIP hosts for company representatives and speakers.
  • – Attend most sessions and learn how people of all backgrounds are able to bring their whole selves to work — faith and all — and what a huge difference that makes in workplace engagement, satisfaction and success.
  • – Have enhanced networking opportunities with businesses, speakers and other student leaders.
  • – Receive Dare to Overcome Fortune 500 Service Internship Certificate upon successful completion at the closing lunch on March 25.
  • – Be part of the pool for future opportunities to participate with RFBF and its partners.

To apply:

  1. Download and complete the application form and share this with the professor who will be writing a recommendation for you.
  2. – Have your professor or advisor email a letter of recommendation to RFBF’s Melissa Grim: melissa@religiousfreedomandbusiness.org
  3. – Email your completed application form to RFBF’s Melissa Grim: melissa@religiousfreedomandbusiness.org
  4. – Deadline: April 22, 2022 (early applications encouraged)

If you’d like to support a student intern, you can donate here.


Highlights from 2020 Conference (short student testimony at 1:45)

Ford Motor Company joins as sponsor of Dare to Overcome

13 Apr, 2022

Breaking News (EIN)

The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation is pleased to announce today that the Ford Interfaith Network, a Ford Motor Company employee resource group, joins as a corporate sponsor of Dare to Overcome, our annual Faith@Work ERG conference.* In 2022, Dare to Overcome will be an in-person gathering where Fortune 500 faith-and-belief employee resource groups (ERGs) come together to share best practices and build supportive, intersecting networks nationally and globally.

“I’m thrilled to have Ford come on board as a Gold Sponsor of Dare to Overcome,” said RFBF President Brian Grim. “Their Ford Interfaith Network employee resource group has been operating for more than 20 years and played an instrumental role bringing interfaith understanding during challenging times. I’m looking forward to the panel they are putting together for Dare to Overcome showcasing how people of different faiths are allies of one another within their company and the communities they serve!”

The 2022 theme is “Better Together,” reflecting an emphasis on being strong allies of others — with a special focus on those with differing abilities. Dare to Overcome will be held in Washington DC in partnership with the Busch School of Business, May 23-25, 2022, and then move onwards to India in 2023.

“The Ford Interfaith Network strives to assist our Company and colleagues in becoming worldwide leaders in promoting religious inclusion and understanding, corporate integrity, and human dignity,” said Samah Affara, Chairperson of the Ford Interfaith Network. “We strive to ensure our colleagues have the freedom and comfort in bringing their whole selves to work, expressing their faith in God, in an appropriate and meaningful way, while promoting religious understanding and mutual respect.”

“This led us to a collaboration with Dr. Brian Grim and to sponsor and participate in the 2022 Dare to Overcome Conference,” Affara said.


* American Airlines is the global partner and official airline of Dare to Overcome. The Busch School of Business at The Catholic University of America is co-host of Dare to Overcome 2022.

Dare to Overcome – A Terrific Opportunity to Connect In Person

12 Apr, 2022

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

Part of the blog series, Authenticity & Connection


You’re going to hear more in coming weeks about the upcoming blockbuster conference Dare to Overcome by the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RFBF). This short column will introduce one new feature of this year’s conference that we’re calling a “Human Library.”

The testimonials of attendees at previous RFBF conferences are fantastic and compelling. The speakers have been wonderfully qualified, deeply insightful and riveting. Also, many who attended in-person in 2020 were moved by what they learned from and the relationships they forged with other attendees, including people of varied faiths. Muslims and Jews, atheists and Baptists, Sikhs and Hindus, agnostics and Buddhists met, connected and engaged significantly on the topic of faith and life at work.

This year, we want to amplify opportunities for that kind of person-to-person connection. Our goal with the Human Library is to advance personal and authentic cross-faith, cross-cultural engagement. It’s a non-threatening way to learn and build bridges in a manner that follows the teachings of our respective faiths.

The 30-minute Human Library event will take place on the second day, after our speakers have sown a lot of thoughtful ideas. We’ll provide some suggested questions in advance for this interaction, including:

  1. (1) How does your faith relate to your personal identity – who you are?
  2. (2) What principles taught by your faith relate directly to the conduct of your work?
  3. (3) What does your faith teach about authority, teamwork, serving and work relationships?
  4. (4) Other relevant facts about the other’s faith, such as the meaning behind their main religious holidays, clothing, diet, schedule, etc.

If you’d like to suggest standard questions for this activity, we’d love to see them in advance! Contact Kent@religiousfreedomandbusiness.org. In any case, feel free to explore any questions you have!

To help match participants, we’ll ask registrants to identify the top three religions/belief systems they’d most like to engage with, and we’ll do our best to accommodate those wishes. Multiple participants may be assigned together with a person of a particular faith; and some will be one to one. (We’re learning on the logistics of this; so bear with us.)

For these encounters, we ask that participants focus on learning. The human Library is not intended to be a forum for convincing others to convert. That said, we encourage participants to look for common ground, and not to shy away from learning about differences.

We won’t put anyone on the spot. If you’d just like to spectate in one of the sessions, tell us. If you’re pleased to share about your faith, tell us. In any case, this is entirely voluntary.

Email me at Kent@religiousfreedomandbusiness.org if you’d like to participate!

We’re looking forward to seeing you at the conference!

Upcoming Events

9 Apr, 2022

DEI has become a priority of companies across the world, and for good reason. There is a clear business case for building effective DEI initiatives in the workplace. But what about faith and belief? Are they part of DEI? How should faith and belief be addressed at work?

Paul Lambert, Senior Business Fellow at the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, is a leading expert on the role of faith and belief in the workplace. He has worked with Fortune 500 companies across the country to build faith and belief accommodation within DEI.

In this Apr. 13 webinar, hosted by Partners Personnel, Paul will discuss what the data says about faith and belief in the workplace and share best practices and tools used by many of the world’s most successful companies. REGISTER TODAY

Phoenix (Apr. 21)

Learn about the positive power faith and religion have on business and the economy. Our expert panel will share how their organizations are using Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to recognize and allow people of faith to gather, discuss and honor their faith, at work.

Come hear a powerful discussion about how large businesses are embracing and being religiously inclusive at work. This panel, hosted by the BYU Management Society of Phoenix, will be lead by Dr. Brian Grim, president of the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation (RFBF).  He will be joined by:

  • — May Mowzoon, Associate Director Patent and Transaction Law at Intel, Chandler, AZ
  • — Craig Carter, Product Manager, Analytics Systems, Team/Corp Culture Advocate. Leader at Intel in Chandler, AZ
  • — Fr. Greg Mc Brayer, Chief Flight Controller at American Airlines, chaplain, and bi-vocational priest in the Anglican Church

Bring questions to understand how they are doing it and how you can introduce this in your organization. REGISTER TODAY

Finally, if you’re interested to learn more about the faith@work diversity movement, join us in person at our May 23-25 Dare to Overcome annual faith@work ERG conference and awards.

Dare to Overcome’s theme is “Better Together,” which we mean in all senses of that phrase. With our partner, American Airlines, we hope you can join us in-person.

In a polarized age, more than 9-in-10 agree!

6 Apr, 2022

by Brian Grim

Republicans, Democrats, young, old, black, white, religious, non-religious, all agree. The Golden Rule — do unto others as you would have them do unto you — is a necessary part of their lives.

The 2022 Deseret-Marist “Faith in America” poll found that treating others as they themselves would like to be treated is a necessary ethic. In other words, Americans agree that putting others first is necessary.

This is the exact message of our upcoming Dare to Overcome national faith@work ERG conference. It’s not about claiming what’s best for me, but it’s about standing up for what’s best for my neighbor.

If you share this same spirit (92% do, according to the poll), please join us in Washington DC this May 23-25 to be inspired by how people of all faiths and beliefs are putting the Golden Rule to practice in their workplaces.

BTW: April 5th was officially Golden Rule Day (see post from Amb. Mussie Hailu). But given the poll’s findings, isn’t every day?!