Integrating religious toleration into working practices

Integrating religious toleration into working practices Share

Earlier this month we looked at showing toleration and respect to people of other faiths and religions in particular relation to Christmas. Yet as tomorrow’s business leaders, you’ll need to ensure you embed this toleration within your business 365 days a year. So how do you go about advising or managing a team, department or operation to ensure you respect and get the best of out of all its members?

New Year, New Start

January traditionally sees the introduction of new changes – whether that’s lifestyle, pricing, or spiritual reconnection. And in this time of new beginnings, many people of all beliefs and thought systems may do things differently – whether that’s giving up alcohol, changing their diet, kicking bad habits, or taking a new approach to health and fitness. Such changes can be really difficult to make stick, so showing toleration and support of these individuals’ choices can go a long way.

If you’re arranging social events, ensure that drinking alcohol is not the main feature, and respect those that choose not to drink. No interrogation or challenge is necessary. Similarly, ensure that any catering takes into account the belief systems of those attending – whether that’s kosher, halal, vegan, fat-free, carb-free, or nothing at all after a certain time of day. No one wants to be left out, or forced to join in with something they don’t want, while no one who is partaking would want to see a friend or colleague uncomfortable at having to turn something down.

If your businesses or a client business deals with or trades in alcohol, animal products, weapons or anything else that could go against the beliefs of one of your team members, speak to them about the situation and come up with a solution early on, to save more difficulty further down the line.

Around the clock

Eating and drinking in social environments may be quite an easy thing to get right, especially if they happen rarely, but what about when you’re in the office or at a client meeting?

To start with, remember that some religions have different holidays and holy days to what are traditionally celebrated in the UK, so if you’re aware of a client or team member who follows a different belief or tradition, don’t be afraid to ask them when these are so they can be respected.

Similarly, Friday afternoons in winter can be a conflicting time for Jews celebrating the Sabbath, while strict Muslims will require time to pray at certain points during the day. Environmentalists may have extra considerations when it comes to things like transport, so think about early starts and late finishes for everyone involved.

Dress codes

Many belief systems encourage different ways of dressing or personal presentation, and now society has become much more tolerant of these, so make sure your workplace keeps up. While in some customer-facing roles a certain level of smartness may be required, that doesn’t mean a headscarf, kippah, or turban can’t be worn, or that shoulders, arms and ankles can’t be covered up.

Remember that shoes and belts in a uniform don’t have to be made of leather, and trousers and tops don’t have to be ‘fitted’. If your business has a uniform or strict dress code, consider how this might affect people with different belief systems to your own.

Open and honest

This may all sound like a lot of hard work and unnecessary stress for a manager, but it becomes much easier by being open, receptive and empowering of team members. Let them suggest ideas, encourage them to organise events that celebrate their beliefs, and promote discussion amongst your colleagues and clients that build unity and excitement for every individual. Before you know it, your team will be more diverse, committed and productive than ever!