The text on this page was originally created as a guest blog by IFN's Assistant Director for the Employers' Network on Equality and Inclusion during Inter Faith Week 2021.
Inter Faith Week www.interfaithweek.org takes place each November. It has been a feature of the national calendar for over a decade. Its aims are to:
- Strengthen good inter faith relations at all levels
- Increase awareness of the different and distinct faith communities in the UK, in particular celebrating and building on the contribution which their members make to their neighbourhoods and to wider society
- Increase understanding between people of religious and non-religious beliefs
It is a fantastic platform for highlighting the importance of faith and belief and encouraging and strengthening initiatives promoting good inter faith relations in the workplace.
The week has grown continually in popularity since it started and an increasing number of employers and staff networks are taking part. https://www.interfaithweek.org/resources/inter-faith-week-2020-connection-learning-and-cooperation-at-the-time-of-covid.)
The Inter Faith Network, which leads on Inter Faith Week, has seen a growing interest in faith and belief in the workplace. Here are just a few ‘top tips’ for employers and employees based on our work in this area.
Consider how your company/workplace is responding to faith and belief issues
- What faith and inter faith networks are operating in our company or workplace? Would it be helpful to support new networks into being?
- How are we encouraging religion and belief literacy in the workplace?
- Is our corporate climate one that is ‘faith and belief friendly’, where people feel comfortable to bring that aspect of their identify to work?
- Workplace provision – How are we responding to needs for example appropriate catering options, prayer/mediation space, and pastoral/spiritual support?
- Are we recruiting in a way which encourages diversity in the applicant base?
- How strong is the religion and belief dimension of our equalities policy and implementation?
- How may our company/workplace benefit from its diverse workforce, including those of different faiths and beliefs?
Encourage and enable people to bring the faith and belief dimension of their lives to work
People work best when they feel that they can bring their whole selves to the work place. Where people feel that they are welcomed and that inclusion of faith or belief is apparent, it can have a positive impact on a person’s wellbeing and approach to work and colleagues.
Create/encourage staff networks to develop inter faith understanding and good relations within the workforce
Faith and belief are not always fully understood. Developing networks can help increase religious literacy and foster stronger relationships and good relations in the workplace. You could:
- Encourage single faith based staff networks (e.g. Hindu, Muslim or Christian network)
- Support the setting up of a multi faith staff network
Remember to allow people to self-define and to explain faith or non-religious belief from their own perspective: people practise their faith in a range of ways
Hold special events to increase understanding and build good inter faith relations
- Run a webinar for/with your offices around the country on religion and belief issues and the importance of good relations
- Use a platform such as Coffee Roulette or a programme like the Inter Faith Network’s ‘Inter Faith Buddies’ to encourage one to one conversations
- Enable or support particular dialogues, such one between a Muslim and Jewish network, on issues of common interest
- set up occasional online talks – for example about particular topics like faith festivals such as Easter, Wesak or Vaisakhi, or highlighting some of the perhaps less well know traditions such as Baha’i, Pagan, Jain or Zoroastrian faiths
- Hold a discussion about the ways in which religious literacy and dialogue might contribute to and strengthen the realisation of your corporate values.
And don’t forget to schedule events in a faith aware way! Check out a multi faith calendar such as the Shap calendar to ensure that events don’t clash with particular festivals and talk with your staff of different faiths about questions of timing.