Navigating Religious Diversity in the Workplace

Everyone deserves a work environment where they feel included and respected. Part of creating that culture within your organization is embracing religious diversity in the workplace. In this blog, Intuit offers four tips to help team members of all cultures and religions feel at home at your company.

Portrait of successful team at work
Portrait of successful team at work

What is religious diversity in the workplace?

The concept of religious diversity in the workplace refers to the presence of multiple religious groups and traditions. Many employers, including Intuit, make every effort to create a work environment and culture that’s accepting, inclusive, and considerate of all faiths. This may mean catering to the different prayer, fasting, or ceremonial needs of various religions across cultures.

The importance of religious diversity in the workplace

One of our society’s greatest aspects today is that we are a modern-day melting pot. People of all ethnicities and creeds come together daily, but we probably spend the most time together in the office. That’s why religious diversity in the workplace is critically important.  

Everyone should feel included, accepted, welcome, and free to be their whole selves when they show up for work. At Intuit, we take this responsibility seriously and do our best to create an environment where our amazing people can do the best work of their lives. Your unique life experiences and beliefs help increase innovative thinking, develop new ideas, and better understand customer problems. 

4 tips to support religious diversity

There are many ways to encourage and embrace diversity in the workplace, including employee resource groups (ERGs). These are employee-led networks aligned with your company’s mission and values that form around commonalities such as ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and religion.  

At Intuit, we have 14 employee resource groups, helping employees build a sense of community and boost representation for traditionally underrepresented groups. These groups help create an inclusive environment. They support the creation of inclusive product and customer experiences and foster diversity, equity, and inclusion in the communities we serve. 

We recently sat down with the leaders of our faith-based ERGs. Below are four tips on fostering dialogue through the exchange of ideas, a practice that can help create a culture supportive of diverse religious identities.

1. Encourage respectful dialogue to create an inclusive and safe workplace

Amy Abulatta is a senior integrated marketing manager and a global leader for Intuit’s Muslim Network. How does she suggest to show up as an ally to someone of a different faith?

“It’s easy to surround yourself with people like yourself; it’s your comfort zone. But doing this can unintentionally isolate others around you,” says Amy. “Focus on inclusive behaviors that include being proactive and asking what others’ preferences are.”

Getting to know your colleagues can deepen your understanding of diverse cultures and help you identify actionable ways to be a better ally.

As a sales leader and Intuit Christian Network member, Dan Scheffel shared that having a conversation with his manager about his faith allowed him to feel more comfortable at work.

“We are all human and there is no longer a separation between work, home, and social life,” says Dan “We have one life.”

Opening lines of communication can allow employees to decide to share the many parts of their identity. It can also lead to healthier relationships and can give employees the confidence to be themselves, which in turn can create a workplace that allows people to feel like they belong. 

Everyone plays a role in creating a workplace where we can have respectful dialogue, and that includes sharing your own preferences and creating the conditions for others to share theirs. Above all else, remember that differing beliefs do not mean differing behaviors in how we treat each other. When we all work to create inclusive and safe workplaces, we acknowledge and respect one another.

2. Support flexible work schedules and be inclusive with your team events

Understanding what’s important to your team members and being flexible to accommodate schedules can make employees feel more comfortable. Employees may participate in daily practices, like prayer, that may be important to their identity.

For example, many Muslims participate in weekly Friday prayers or daily prayers that take five to 10 minutes to complete. It’s also important to be mindful of time off for religious holidays. Ask your team to take a proactive approach by scheduling time off in advance. You can also suggest blocking time off on their calendar so that others avoid scheduling important meetings when they may not be available. 

Happy hour get-togethers with cocktails or wine can be fun, but not everyone may consume alcohol. For example, having an event that focuses on alcohol may leave some people feeling left out.

“Recognize that individuals of the Muslim faith may not consume alcoholic beverages or eat pork,” says Amy. 

Instead, explore team events that make everyone feel welcome, like hosting trivia games, organizing a volunteer event, or allowing team members to order their own meals. Not only can you find new ways to bring your team together, but you’ll create a more inclusive environment for everyone, no matter their beliefs. 

3. Create inclusive events that build community and help educate

Amy mentioned that one of the hurdles faith-based ERGs face is that religion can be a controversial topic in the workplace. The Intuit Muslim Network hosts faith-centric events open to all that can provide information and foster honest conversations among all employees. 

For Ramadan, the ERG has hosted a virtual event about the history of the Muslim faith and tips for fasting. Attendees were also taught the health benefits of fasting, in addition to their faith. The event was open to all employees and provided a fun and informative way for participants to learn about a tradition important to our Muslim colleagues. 

Mike Repavich is a learning experience leader and one of our Intuit Christian Network global leaders. As the world and our employees navigate many difficult situations in recent years, several ERGs have come together to offer prayer services open to all employees.  

Mike shares, “Prayer is one of the most powerful tools for a person of faith. With the increase in racial tensions in our society, we have offered regular prayer services with our Intuit African Ancestry Network and Intuit Asia Pacific Network. Similarly, we partnered with the Intuit Military Network in prayer around the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and on Veterans Day.”  

These prayer services are open to all employees and have become a way for employees of multiple faiths to come together during difficult times, helping to create a supportive environment and build a stronger community.

4. Offer training to employees

Training employees on religious diversity in the workplace starts with an organization’s culture. When you hire new employees, ensure they understand your company supports respect, tolerance, and understanding among coworkers and doesn’t accept anything less. You can also make the environment more welcoming by displaying art or other accents representing multiple religions and cultures.  

After establishing an environment that promotes religious diversity, you can provide more formal training with support resources. It’s also helpful to organize company-wide events that allow other employees or ERG members to teach coworkers about their culture or religion. These events will also provide the opportunity for inclusive discussion that fosters an open dialogue and understanding.  

Creating a supportive and inclusive culture at Intuit

Our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is foundational to our company. It’s also explicit in our values as we work to create an environment where employees can do the best work of their lives. We’re proud to be recognized in the Religious Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (REDI) Index as a top faith-and-belief friendly company, supporting the religious diversity of our employees around the world. 

Elizabeth Johnson is one of the global leaders of the Intuit Christian Network. “We are blessed that Intuit is a trail-blazer for faith ERGs having offered them for years,” shared Elizabeth, “This recognition is a reflection of that support for employees of faith and an opportunity to learn how we can improve.”

Diverse talent helps us deliver results for our customers and fulfill our mission of powering prosperity for all. As shared by our Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, Humera Shahid, says, “Intuit is a place where people come to work because they believe it’s an environment where they can grow. Intuit isn’t just a place where a certain type of person can be successful. It’s a place where everyone can thrive.”