Companies nationwide are recognizing the value in building faith-friendly workplaces, and implementing programs that give people of all religions a seat at the table.
Brian Grim, president of the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation, brought a team to BYU recently to discuss what this means for students getting ready to enter the workforce.
According to Media Relations Manager Todd Hollingshead, approximately 98.5% of students have been members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the past several years.
However, once students start their careers, they enter into new environments where they have to navigate unfamiliar cultures and perspectives. Business recruiters have noticed a “cultural naivety” in BYU graduates, and are “looking for graduates who are more prepared for a diverse workplace,” Jay Hart, former human resources manager at Bank of America told The Daily Universe in 2016.
For Grim, instilling commitment to religious freedom in BYU students means teaching them about different cultures and religions; preparing them to experience and understand diversity.
“(Commitment to religious freedom) means you’re committed to a workplace, a society where everyone is free to bring their own faith and belief to work and to the equation,” Grim said. “So if you’re committed to that, then you want to take steps to better understand how to work with people who are different and to not be threatened.”
Another effect of BYU’s Latter-day Saint majority is the rich faith experience students have while they’re in college.
Grim said that while at BYU, students live in a place where their faith is considered in everything they do; when they are hired at some companies, they are told to leave their beliefs at the door. This is jarring and uncomfortable for people whom, until then, faith expression has been encouraged and celebrated.
“We want you to bring your whole self to work, not just part of yourself,” Grim said. “What a difference that would make for your morale, for your interest in the company, for your interest to stay there.”
He said that there is a business case for companies creating initiatives that encourage religious freedom. Programs like Google’s Inter Belief Network and Salesforce’s Faithforce make for more productivity, better retention and recruitment of employees, and better understanding of customers and clients.
As a result, more and more businesses are trying to make religious freedom a priority, Grim said. This is something to consider, for Latter-day Saints graduating into the workforce.
“Some workplaces are open and accepting and encouraging people to bring that faith and beliefs side of themselves to work and other companies haven’t gotten there yet. And so being aware of where your company is at is really important,” Grim said.