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In our opinion: Corporate America is learning the value of faith in the workplace

SHARE In our opinion: Corporate America is learning the value of faith in the workplace
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In this October 2018 photo provided by Tyson Foods, Karen Diefendorf, second right, director of chaplain services at Tyson Foods, talks with employees at the company’s Berry St. poultry plant in Springdale, Ark. The company deploys a team of more than 90 chaplains to comfort and counsel employees at its plants and offices. The program began in 2000.

Logan Webster via Associated Press

The fundamental idea that faith is a dimension of diversity seems to be catching on in corporate America. It’s not just good for employees, it’s good for business: Workers who bring their whole, authentic self into the workplace are happier, more productive and more likely to deliver on their objectives.

According to a recent Associated Press examination of the Fortune 100 companies, more than 20% of the organizations have formed or permitted faith-based employee resource groups designed to tap into the increased desire of workers to bring their beliefs with them to work.

Brian Grim, the founder and president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, has commented on the trend, “Corporate America is at a tipping point toward giving religion similar attention to that given the other major diversity categories.”

At a conference on the topic that Grim co-hosted last week, keynote speaker Sue Warnke from Salesforce highlighted the success such an approach to diversity can have.

Salesforce, a global provider of customer relationship management systems, is also home to an array of diversity programs that include groups ranging from Latinos, LGBTQ workers and Asians to veterans, women and those with unique abilities within their disabilities. Each is a “force” within the company, as in AbilityForce, Latinoforce, Outforce.

The company’s website describes its Faithforce this way, “We acknowledge, celebrate and foster understanding of our global faith and religious diversity across Salesforce. With the goal of inclusion and empowering our employees to bring their authentic selves to work, Faithforce is open to all people of faith and allies who wish to learn about the different traditions that are integrated into our global communities.”

Headquartered in California’s Silicon Valley — not exactly a burgeoning bastion of religiosity — it appears Salesforce has discovered the power of faith in the lives and performance of its employees.

Warnke, the senior director of content & communication experience and the president of Faithforce San Francisco said, “When implemented thoughtfully, faith (groups) increase morale, improve retention, attract talent, reduce religious bias and brand your company as a diversity leader. The benefits simply vastly outweigh the risks. Building a faith diversity strategy for your employees is a business imperative.” 

What started as a few people praying in 2017 has blossomed into a group that includes 2,600 Salesforce employees from around the world and across the religious spectrum. 

Warnke concluded, “I can bring my whole, authentic self, the most important parts of that self, to work … What a remarkable thing: to allow faith at work!”

Other leading companies are joining the faith as a dimension of diversity movement, including Tyson Foods, American Express, Intel, Goldman Sachs, Target, Facebook, Dell, American Airlines, Apple and Walmart. Some employers have established comprehensive interfaith resource groups while others have worked to accommodate standalone groups for various faith traditions.

Faith should not be banished from the public square, nor should it be sequestered in individual homes, mosques, synagogues or churches. A pluralistic society accepting of people of all faiths, and of no faith, brings great strength and understanding to the world.