The Rise of Religious Diversity in the Workplace
The worlds largest human resource organization recently released a study indicating that a predominance of employees throughout the country brings a diversity of religion and spirituality to work.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey on Religion and Corporate Culture, only 12% of HR professionals reported no religious or spiritual diversity among their organizations' employees. Plus, where there is diversity, nearly all organizations (98%) reported that employees worked together cooperatively.
"Religious diversity in the workplace has been a rising trend for several years, driven by such powerful factors as immigration and globalization," said China M. Gorman, SHRM’s chief operating officer. "HR professionals recognize that cultures that respect and value religious views benefit from higher employee performance and loyalty to the organization."
According to the survey, employee morale and retention are most affected when an organization provides a workplace that offers religious accommodations. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers must reasonably accommodate employees' religious beliefs unless that creates an undue business hardship.
The survey of nearly 550 organizations showed that the top three accommodations in the past 12 months were: taking different religious beliefs of employees into account when planning holiday-related events; allowing religious decoration of individual workspaces; and offering flexible scheduling to accommodate religious practices at work (e.g., meditating, praying).
Also, despite concern by some employers that granting individual accommodations would create a wave of such requests, 94% of HR professionals reported no increase in formal requests during the last 12 months. Many employers are now routinely offering accommodations that were not formally requested.
"The U.S. is becoming more diverse and employers can leverage this diversity to reach business goals," said Shirley Davis, director of diversity initiatives for SHRM. "Employees who see cultural and religious diversity being respected in the workplace feel more aligned with their organization, and that has a positive impact on the bottom line. So companies need to see this as far more than a legal requirement."
Although accommodation of religious preferences is widespread in actual workplace practice, only 51% of organizations have a written policy on religious diversity, and only 56% offer paid or unpaid leave for holidays not included in the organization's holiday schedule.