Bosses left confused by what do about religion at work

UK businesses remain clueless as to how to manage diversity in religion in the workplace, a new study reveals.

A new ComRes report about workplace diversity and inclusion suggests that British employers struggle to manage expressions of religion and belief in the workplace, and up to a million people in Britain may have experienced workplace harassment, discrimination or bullying because of their religion or belief.

The Belief at Work study into faith in the workplace, published today (3 April 2017), gathered informal insight from workplace leaders, and surveyed HR managers and adult in paid employment in Britain to test awareness of seven of the Equality Act 2010 categories of protected characteristics. ComRes Faith Research Centre asked additional specific questions about religion and belief to set a baseline of available data about awareness and understanding.

‘We found that HR managers have a very different view of what’s happening in their workplace than many workers do,’ says Katie Harrison, director of ComRes Faith Research Centre.

‘Many HR managers say they make provision for employees to pray at work and observe holy days and religious festivals, but workers say that’s not happening.’

To celebrate good practice in creating a workplace culture where people of all faiths and none can thrive, ComRes is inviting people to nominate their employer for a Belief At Work Award. The awards, honouring workplace inclusion in public, private and non-profit sector organisations, will be judged by a high level panel who will consider testimonials from employees about their experiences in the workplace.

‘We know there are great examples of workplaces where people listen well to each other and everyone feels able to talk freely about their lives,’ says Katie Harrison.

‘An acid test for many workplaces is the Monday morning conversation. Do people always say what they did at the weekend, or do they leave out the part about pursuing a religious or belief-related activity because they feel uncomfortable to say so?

‘Some people told us they felt uncomfortable about mentioning that they pray, for example, even in business conversations where they were talking about ways to cope in a crisis and prayer would probably be something that some people would do.

‘Or we heard of people feeling upset that religion was the butt of jokes in a workplace where people have become much more aware about making disparaging comments about gender or disability. We know that good conversations, tailored workplace research and thoughtful listening can help identify some of these problems and solve them quickly.’

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Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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