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[00:32] - As Jennifer Miller highlights in The New York Times, people are now including faith in the idea of bringing your whole self to work (authenticity).
[01:59] - Miller’s discussion shows that we are finally starting to see faith as a part of D&I efforts.
[03:00] - People are starting to take action for their faith as part of larger groups, which you can take as encouragement.
[05:17] - An interfaith approach might be the best way to bring faith into the D&I discussion because, by building trust with others and advocating for them, you allow them the free choice and opportunity to learn what you believe. It helps you understand each other and be compassionate. The first Christians often had to interact with people of other faiths, so we should be prepared to do that, as well.
[08:39] - Boundaries are important in recognizing faith within D&I. We should be careful that, in an effort to be inclusive, we don’t paradoxically prevent everyone from expressing what they believe. Figuring out what the faith landscape looks like in your organization can be a great place to start building appropriate boundaries and communicating well.
[10:40] - You are not alone as a Christian. Go and find the other believers in your business so you have support and can amplify the work that people are doing around faith and D&I.
Jennifer Miller highlighted the rise of faith within D&I initiatives in her article for The New York Times. Her piece aligns with the mission of Faithful on the Clock, which is to help people of faith close the gap between what they believe and their work. The work seems to signal a shift toward making faith a larger part of the D&I movement.
People are starting to stand up and take action so they feel more comfortable expressing their faith. This is a reason for Christians to be encouraged!
The best approach for bringing faith into D&I might be an interfaith approach. By being respectful and presenting opportunities, people are more willing to trust and, subsequently, to hear you out about your Christian faith. So we must be tolerant and give others the same visibility we seek for ourselves. We must be brave enough to stand in the midst of those who do not believe as we do.
Even as we are tolerant of others who believe differently, we must be firm enough in our own beliefs to draw and enforce clear boundaries.
In drawing boundaries and seeking D&I, we should not default to recognizing no one in the name of fairness. Rather, we must be clear about what the faith landscape is and be specific about everything that surrounds us. It’s only when we do this that we can proactively address imbalances and fully protect freedom of belief.
Find out what your company is doing to include faith in their D&I initiatives.
Ask for permission to update your faith demographical data.
Identify where you feel most inhibited in the expression of your faith in the workplace.
What’s coming up next:
Many workers, particularly in the United States, take days off during the holidays. But doing so can carry plenty of stress. Episode 89 of Faithful on the Clock offers tips on how to book your vacation without getting lost in anxiety and drama.
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Welcome to another episode of Faithful on the Clock, listeners, where every pie bakes in the oven to get your faith and work aligned. I’m your host, Wanda Thibodeaux, and in today’s episode, we’re going to be discussing diversity and exclusion and where faith fits inside of that. I think you might be prompted through this episode to think about the expression of your faith in a little bit different way. So, let’s go ahead and jump right in.
OK. So, I want to refer you right away all the way back to Episode 20, which covers some general thoughts I had about why diversity and inclusion efforts often fail, because I think that’s gonna inform you quite a bit and serve as a backdrop for this more specific discussion. But I was inspired to do this show after reading an article in The New York Times by Jennifer Miller, and that article was titled What Happens When the Boss Asks You to Bible Study. I’ll link to it in the show notes. But in essence, Miller brought up this whole idea we’re pushing now in the corporate space about bringing your whole self to work. And the assertion was basically that your religious beliefs are a huge part of that. And if we are going to ask people to be fully authentic, then we have to allow them to express not just who they are in areas like race, sexual orientation, or ethnic background, but also in their faith. And it really struck me because, as I’ll just remind everybody, because I know some of you out there might be new to the show, the entire premise of Faithful on the Clock is that people are not able to fully express their faith yet, that there’s a gap between the business world’s expectations and being able to say, you know, I’m a Christian, or I’m a Jew or Muslim, or whatever you might follow. And so this entire show is centered around trying to help Christians bridge that gap.
So, all that said, this was really the first time that I have seen faith presented within the context of diversity and inclusion. I mean, I’m not saying that there aren’t workplaces out there that actively try to make sure there are people from different religions out there. I know there are – Intel, for example, was recently voted the most faith-friendly company. But I think in general, there’s been more of an emphasis in other areas. You know, I just don’t feel like I see as many campaigns around religious expression as I do around other important areas. I still feel like there’s just such a taboo around religion that it’s harder to make it part of initiatives, right? Like, politics and religion, in the United States, those are still the two things you don’t talk about. So, this idea that there’s some movement on finally making faith part of the broader diversity and inclusion discussion, that’s really appealing to me, and seeing that article in the New York Times, I think it points to a shift in the way we think.
Now, I want to encourage you here, listeners, because one of the things Miller talked about in her article was how people actually are taking action for their faith. They’re going out and participating in Bible studies. They’re approaching their leadership to get permissions around, you know, symbols and tools of their faith. And I’ll tell you why this matters. Right now, you know, in the United States, we have some faith protections in the workplace. You can’t be discriminated against just because you follow one religion or another. But that’s really, to me, been a more passive approach. It’s saying that, as an individual, you’re gonna be left alone if you have one faith or another. You know, nobody should bother you about it. But what Miller is talking about is people of faith coming together, that they’re starting to feel more comfortable expressing themselves as part of larger faith groups. So, Christians and people of other faiths, we’re starting to see them standing up and working together, supporting each other. And that, to me, is a huge deal, because it means people don’t have to feel so alone, that they can get more done for God. And I think we’re starting to see the beginning of a movement where, you know, just like people of other groups have worked to be recognized and respected within D&I, now we’re saying, faith is part of identity, too, and we shouldn’t have to hide because of it. You know, if you see the mission of D&I as being to recognize the different areas that make people feel whole or put into their sense of self, it absolutely makes sense to me that faith should be part of D&I and that we need to be brave enough to stand up and let people know we’re here. That doesn’t mean you’re disrespectful to anybody else or try to, you know, dominate anybody. It’s just having the opportunity not to be afraid to say, you know, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. So, I want to be clear with you that this is happening and to encourage you, because a lot of the time, we need to know that someone else is having some success before we’ll take action, right? We need some evidence that things can work, and I think we’re starting to get those cases.
This does raise the question, though, of how do we bring faith into the D&I discussion. And I wanna be clear here, even though I’m a Christian, I wholeheartedly believe that the most effective way to approach this is to take an interfaith approach. And I’ll tell you why. The minute you say that your faith is the only faith, or that someone is wrong to believe what they do, that might be true, but it’s divisive if you don’t communicate it in the right way. People stop hearing you. All they want to do is defend their own religion. So, don’t say it’s better to be Christian. Just tell people why you’re a Christian and let them see what that means through your actions. You know, why Christianity over anything else? And you have to respect that faith is a heart issue. You cannot force someone to faith, because there will always be resentment in the person’s heart about that. And God wants us to love and follow Him freely. So when you talk about D&I, you have to fight to allow the Christian side of yourself to be visible, but you also have to give other people the right to choose. So, as a practical example, if you wanna start a Christian bible study, you can be specific about that, but you also can lobby your leadership to allow all faith groups time or space to study their religious books. Because they feel respected, they’re much more likely to hear you out. You’re much more likely to understand each other, and even if there’s no conversion, which I hope there will be, but you can just be at peace with each other. So, I think part of good D&I as it relates to faith is opportunity. You know, it’s the opportunity to see what others do and to allow them to have good experiences with you. They cannot do that if they feel like religion is something to hide, right? They won’t feel comfortable letting others know where they’re at with their beliefs or what they want to ask questions about. So, if you protect the right of others to worship as they want to do, I really think that’s a huge way to build trust and get into deeper discussions. And if you look at the disciples and first Christians, you know, they didn’t just go where other believers were, right? They took that message out where people believed a lot of different things, where there was worship of all kinds of other gods. So, we can’t avoid other faiths in the workplace. We have to go to them and interact with them and hope that one day we can bring them into the fold. But to do that, and consider this a fair warning here, we are not called to deny our God. We have to be ready to defend Him. So, even as you love on other people, your faith has to be solid. You have to be willing to lay down and enforce some respectful boundaries. And don’t be surprised if it takes some finesse to ensure those boundaries hold, OK? You know, even as you create opportunities to have the same freedom you have, you’re gonna have to be really clear about what God permits and what He doesn’t so that you don’t take missteps and sin where you don’t intend to.
Now, with that concept of boundaries in your head, I think what often happens is that, in an attempt to include people of different faiths, we end up paradoxically recognizing none, right? And ultimately it ends up being exclusionary. So, for example, some companies don’t put up a Christmas tree because they don’t want to offend. Or they just say “Happy Holidays.” So, the business essentially says, we see you all, but because we don’t want to show any preference to one faith over another, we’re not gonna allow groups to put anything on display or really do activities. That to me is not good D&I because it’s still stopping people from expressing what they believe. They’re not free to worship, and all the acknowledgement of the faith is super generic. I don’t even know what’s recognized in Happy Holidays, because it’s specifically meant to be kind of this catch-all phrase. And I think the better way is to be upfront about all of the faiths represented in your workplace. I think a lot of the time, people don’t even know who’s around them, because nobody gives them that big picture. They say they don’t discriminate or are welcoming to different faiths, but they’re often not even open about what the faith environment even is in that current moment. It kind of lets them bypass that work and not have to acknowledge where the imbalances are. It’s not specific about how the company is inviting faith groups to the table. So, I think we need to be helping people to understand the faith diversity that they’re part of, because that’s the only way they can understand how they need to be communicating with each other and lobbying. You know, if you think there aren’t many other Christians in your workplace, that’s gonna change your approach compared to if you know Christians are already the majority there. It’s just like figuring out, hey, you know, we really don’t have a lot of people of color, or we’ve done a good job making sure we’re still hiring older candidates. So, if you’re not already clear about what your faith landscape looks like, I think that’s a great place to start.
So to wrap this up here, I think the big takeaway I have for you is to say, as a Christian, you are not alone. I know it might feel like that in this moment, but I see you. I see you with that seed of faith you have, and I want you to go find the other people who are holding their own seeds in their hearts. You need other brothers and sisters to keep your courage and keep going. There are companies out there, real people like you who are taking initiative so they feel more at home and respected in their workplace. They’re paving the way, and we can continue and amplify the work they’re doing, one small step and prayer at a time.
With that in mind, let’s pray.
Jesus, I know that there are listeners out there, people who are desperately afraid to say they are Christian. Especially in different parts of the world, that can be extremely dangerous. So, they don’t feel safe enough to do it. So, Lord, please give them courage. Give them the courage to start advocating, to see the success others are having, and to go to their own supervisors to get things started. And just take away whatever fear they have so they can find peaceful and respectful ways to claim their right to be visible. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
All right, everybody. It’s time for me to move on to the rest of the day, as I know you all have to, too. I would love to hear about it if this show has inspired you to take some kind of initiative in your workplace, whether that’s starting a study group, or you know, getting more transparency about the beliefs on your team — whatever it is, email me at wandathibodeaux@faithfulontheclock and I’ll try to share your insights. Next episode, we’re discussing ways to keep your focus, productivity, and compassion all high even when the world seems to be on fire. You know, there’s a lot going on, a lot of conflict, so how can we keep a sense that our work matters through all that? Until that drops, everybody, be blessed.
Faithful on the Clock is a podcast meant to get your Christian faith and work aligned. You won’t find mantras or hacks here--just scripture-based insights to help you grow yourself, your company, and your relationship with God. If you want out of the worldly hamster wheel and want to work with purpose, then this is the show for you. Hosted by freelance business writer Wanda Thibodeaux.
Wanda Marie Thibodeaux is a freelance writer based in Eagan, MN. Since 2006, she has worked with a full range of clients to create website landing pages, product descriptions, articles, professional letters, and other content. She also served as a daily columnist at Inc.com for three years, where she specialized in content on business leadership, psychology, neuroscience, and behavior.
Currently, Thibodeaux accepts clients through her website, Takingdictation.com. She is especially interested in motivational psychology, self-development, and mental health.