Accommodating Beliefs

Religion can be a hot-button issue in many conversations since a lot of people are very sensitive towards their religious beliefs and do not compromise on anything intolerant being said about their religion. Every individual in the world deserves to live freely and practice whatever religion they follow openly and without the horror of being discriminated against because of it. We all come from different backgrounds and cultures, some of us have chosen our religious beliefs while some of us have been born into them. More or less, religious beliefs must be practiced and celebrated without any hesitance keeping in mind that they do not hurt any other person or society as a whole.

It is normal for problems to arise and to have some challenges when looking after your staff’s mental health and well-being in terms of the religious beliefs that they come with, especially when you have a diverse workforce. It will be difficult to make room for everyone and make sure that each individual is being treated fairly. Even today many people are harassed and discriminated against based on the religion they follow. This can seriously harm a person’s mental well-being and destruct their confidence while leaving them questioning what they did wrong to deserve this? To prevent any problems and to build a strong and inclusive work foundation, employers must provide reasonable accommodation to employees of all religions.

A reasonable accommodation is more than just allowing a couple of hours off to your employees for weekly worship or to celebrate a religious holiday. It is creating a safe environment for them to dress and groom themselves as per their beliefs and also taking into account their dietary issues and responsibilities and providing them with meditation and prayer rooms. To flawlessly execute such an environment, employers can recruit thoughtful and well-trained managers who can schedule work flexibly so that workers can contribute to the company whether they have a formal religious faith or not.

Employers can also take creative approaches to support and make people from diverse religious backgrounds feel welcomed and belonged to the organization. Some of which include:

  • Turning an unused conference room into a prayer room.
  • Celebrating all holidays and religious celebrations at the office and giving gifts to employees.
  • Respecting the religious duties of people and being aware of what is prohibited in a person’s religion to make sure their sentiments are not hurt.
  • Altering existing company policies to a fit-all solution.
  • Allowing to display religious symbols.
  • Making sure a proper complaint procedure exists in case there has been a harassment incident at the office and providing timely assistance.
  • Developing flexible work shifts.
  • Lateral changes in responsibilities or duties to meet the religious observances.
  • Designing bespoke uniforms keeping in mind the religion and culture that a person comes from.
  • Providing training to all the staff members regarding respecting and accepting different beliefs.

It is not an easy process, but it is not impossible either. In a world where we see news regarding intolerance and bullying almost every other day, we must take a step forward in our capacity and make the world a better place. When your workforce will feel safe and free to be their true self, they will be more likely to perform more efficiently and in the goodwill of the company. With strict laws around protecting a person’s right to practice religion, serious actions can be taken against the organization which does not adhere to the rules. To prevent a hostile work environment, the employer must make sure that the employees of different religious backgrounds are being protected against unwelcoming conduct, pervasive harassment, negative comments that attack the religious beliefs of an individual, Quid Pro Quo harassment based on religion, unwanted religious discussions, and proselytism. Building a fair and inclusive workplace will not only be better for the organization and its employees, but it can also bring a positive change to the whole of society.


By Fareeha Usman

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