Interfaith involvement contributes to future business success

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People from different religious congregations in California prepare bags of food to give to the poor. The event took place at the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. (Courtesy of Mormon Newsroom)

Countless hours and thousands of dollars are spent by college students each year to attend school and learn what can make them successful in a future business career.

But there is one beneficial factor not discussed in the classroom or in textbooks: interfaith involvement.

“If we are to understand an individual’s culture, many times, religion plays a major part in defining what somebody’s culture is,” said Simon Greathead, a professor who teaches business negotiation at BYU.

“Whenever you’re dealing across cultures, across religions, across national boundaries, building trust is crucial,” Greathead said.

He also said a business person will be able to talk more freely about common beliefs and there would be more unity in the workplace.

“If people have respect for other people’s religions and are somewhat engaged in other people’s religions, then I believe that demonstrates unity,” Greathead said.

He said this unity weaves its way into business negotiations. By creating more understanding, people can create more integrated solutions.

“It helps students to get acquainted with other people, and it helps them appreciate other people as full human beings,”said Ray West, executive director of the Interfaith Business Builders.

The Ohio-based organization comprises different religious institutions focusing on developing and promoting employee-owned, cooperative businesses.

West said people are so isolated within their own communities, churches or neighborhoods, they tend to assume the negative about people outside of their immediate group.

He said people seem less threatening to “us” and “we” are more comfortable being around people of different religions as one gets involved with other faiths.

“You have to work with people in other religions,” said Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism.

Zed said there are both powerful spiritual and business benefits that come with student interfaith involvement. He said it ultimately helps students communicate better with others of different religions.

“We all need to be students of human behavior,” Greathead said. “If I am involved in not only my own faith but also other people’s faith, then it allows me to develop a greater sensitivity in relation to human interaction.”

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