Guide to Religious Diversity in the U.S. Workplace
Editor: Deborah Levine
(From Review of Religious Diversity at Work by Dr. George F. Simons at diversophy.com) In addition to her own contributions, Deborah Levine has gathered religious expertise representing various traditions in order to assemble authors for what is a most useful manual for organizations dealing with questions of religious diversity in the US American workplace.
The work is not theoretical, but informative and practical, helping its readers to both recognize and manage religious diversity issues which can occur on a day-to-day basis. The “rules of engagement” are set out in the very first chapter and the second offers additional tools in the form of quick reference cards that can add to the longevity and application of the knowledge one gains in this read.
The delicacy of religious beliefs, as well as the heightened sensitivity peculiar to US diversity issues, makes it impossible for employers and managers not to have at least the basic savvy contained in this book. Often religious diversity is ignored until there is a critical incident, badly handled, that is costly to the organization, not just financial terms and time-consuming litigation, but with effects on talent management and the organization’s ability to sustain an environment of goodwill.
Chapters 3 through 6 offer insights to common areas that present workplace challenges in terms of managing religious diversity. People bring their religion to work with them, this often results in a desire to share one’s devotion or one’s practices and values with others in ways that are inappropriate. On the other hand, in a diverse society, religious seasons and holidays, requirements of food and dress and required religious practices may require legitimate accommodations of the workplace schedule, cafeteria diets, meeting space and other protocols. All of these provide challenges to management and colleagues that these chapters are meant to help with, given the complexity of these situations.
Further chapters present the beliefs and practices of major religious traditions in significant detail as well as discuss the religiously unaffiliated, always keeping in mind that people differ not only by tradition but by their level of commitment and practice within a tradition, making the management of diversity not only complex, but requiring understanding and attention to individuals’ religious commitment and expression. In addition, one must always keep in mind that there is a legal framework within which one must operate as well. This is facilitated by an appendix of religious discrimination guidelines, as well as several appendices providing additional resources in print and online.
Among the handy features of this book are the highlights found at the end of each chapter in bullet point form, making it easy to recall critical content and check that one’s reading was attentive and complete. These highlights are followed by discussion questions that can be used as a part of training or simply as a checkpoint for the retention of important issues. Lastly, following the discussion questions, and even more useful if the book is used as a preparation for or even in a training context, are the several scenarios for discussion. These take the form of live case studies, brief but to the point, that ask the reader or participant to use what has been learned in the chapter to analyze and attempt to resolve situations that could easily occur in the workplace setting.
Table of Contents
NOTE: Each chapter includes a section on Highlights, Discussion Questions, and Discussion Scenarios in addition to content written by experts in the specific field.
CHAPTER 1: Why Religious Diversity?
CHAPTER 2: Quick Reference Religious Diversity Cards
CHAPTER 3: The Devout Professional in the Workplace & Academia
CHAPTER 4: Calendars and Holy Days
CHAPTER 5: The Impact of Religious Diversity on Healthcare
CHAPTER 6: The Religiously Diverse Workforce and Accommodation
CHAPTER 7: Islam in the Workplace
CHAPTER 8: Hinduism in the Workplace
CHAPTER 9: Judaism in the Workplace
CHAPTER 10: Buddhism in the Workplace
CHAPTER 11: LGBT and Religious Diversity Issues: Avoiding Conflicts and Increasing Understanding
CHAPTER 12: The Unaffiliated Sector
CHAPTER 13: Hot Topics: Legal and Cultural Issues
A: Religious Discrimination Guidelines – EEOC
B: Listing of Religious and Faith Groups
C: Resources – Print Publications
D: Resources – Websites
Deborah Levine: Editor
Marc Brenman: Advisor
Sheila Chapnekar Boyington: Writer
Nisha Boyington: Writer
Terry Howard: Writer
Soumaya Khalifa: Writer
Simma Lieberman: Writer
Sharon Riegie Maynard: Writer
Gay Morgan Moore: Writer
Dr. Mukta Panda: Writer
Dr. Christopher Silver: Writer
Dr. Elwood Watson: Writer
“Religious Diversity at Work provides a much-needed perspective of a fundamental, but often over-looked, aspect of today’s healthcare industry. It’s a guide to navigating religious sensitivities and instituting healthcare measures to address religious diversity concerns. Religion encourages us to live the way we say we believe. That premise doesn’t stop at the doors of a hospital, behavioral healthcare facility, emergency transport, or medical provider’s office. Religious diversity awareness should be used to proactively provide equal care by equal practice. Thank you for tackling these issues in ways not generally featured in other references.”
~ Sam Verniero, Planning Commission Board Member at Georgia Dept. of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities
“The book is not only informative, but also thought provoking by asking questions managers and HR professionals will face in our ever evolving work cultures. Religious Diversity at Work allows management to formulate a plan and communication strategies before a disaster!”
~ Melodie Thompson, PHR, SHRM-CP
“Religion in the US Workplace is a surprising combination of serious workplace issues and enjoyable articles that treat them in a plain and commonsensical way. While the book is rich with information, it is highly accessible to the average reader. It may even make the reader’s workplace experience much more enjoyable and successful. In addition to the articles, the book includes hypothetical examples and exercises that force the reader to think through the advice and absorb the information provided in the book. It is a great handbook that everyone embarking on a career should read in order to avoid some of the rough bumps we sometime experience in our religiously diverse society. I am surprised that it has taken so long for such a necessary and informative book to be written.”
~ Dr. Azizah al-Hibri: Professor Emerita at T. C. Williams School of Law/ University of Richmond and Founder/ KARAMAH
“Supervisors, managers, executives, and owners will find this book essential for understanding how employees of diverse beliefs can work together with a minimum of friction. While we can’t cure all the ills of the world, we can help ensure that the US workplace is engaged, calm, inclusive, and efficient.”
~ Marc Brenman, Managing Partner, IDARE LLC
~ Dr. Amy-Jill Levine
University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies
Divinity School and College of Arts & Science, Vanderbilt University