Working for workplace religious diversity, equity & inclusion


TEDx Talk: Religious Freedom by the Numbers


Brian Grim, founder and president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, spoke at the Vatican in April 2013. He reviewed the deteriorating global situation of religious freedom based on his previous work while at the Pew Research Center.

As cited by numerous national and international bodies, Pew Research shows a dangerous global trend of increasing religious restrictions and hostilities, despite the vast majority of people adhering to a religion.

Grim led the Pew Research study on global restrictions on religion from 2006 until he left to become president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation on Feb. 1, 2014.

img01Situation: Religious populations are growing worldwide, making religion a bigger part of public life in the years ahead.

Problem: Today, more 75% of people live with high religious restrictions. These religious restrictions and hostilities adversely impact businesses in every region of the globe. Religion-related hostilities in the Middle East, South Asia, Russia and China disrupt markets and production. Religious prejudices stigmatize women and keep them out of the marketplace in counties as diverse as Turkey and France. And fears of offending religious or cultural norms – including secular norms – impede innovation and stifle entrepreneurial spirit in the West and the rest of the world.

Solution: Corporate engagement on religious freedom can turn the tide when coupled with government and social initiatives. Business support for religious freedom will result in more peaceful, trustworthy and stable economies. Where there is stability, there is more opportunity to invest, especially in emerging/new markets. And where there is freedom of conscience in the market place – including the freedom to live out the Golden Rule and bring belief systems to the proverbial table – this promotes honoring the sanctity of the contract. It also fosters more trust within a company and enlarges public trust toward a company, enhancing its brand image and benefiting the bottom line.

Businesses are uniquely situated to solve problems caused by religious restrictions and hostilities because they are at the crossroads of culture, commerce and creativity. Indeed, they have a vested interest because religious freedom is good for business. Research shows that religious freedom not only benefits the bottom line, but also improves the lives of women, consolidates democracy, and increases peace and stability.


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