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Majority of workers feel employers don’t promote religious diversity

3 Apr 2017 By Marianne Calnan

Research finds significant mismatch between HR policies and actual workplace cultures

Only a quarter (26 per cent) of workers agree that their organisations promote an understanding of religious beliefs and diversity, according to a new report from consultancy ComRes. In contrast, almost all (91 per cent) of HR managers surveyed said their organisations promoted religious inclusion and diversity.

Around a third (35 per cent) of workers said that people in their workplace never talk about their personal beliefs or religion.

HR managers “have a very different view of what’s happening in their workplace than many workers do,” said Katie Harrison, director of ComRes’ Faith Research Centre.

The report also highlighted a significant disconnect between employers’ policies on religion and employees’ sense of a safe culture in which to discuss and practice beliefs. While nearly half (42 per cent) of HR managers said their organisations make provision for their employees to pray at work, just 19 per cent of workers said that this provision was in place.

Harrison said that some workers who took part in the research said they were uncomfortable mentioning their beliefs at work: “An acid test for many workplaces is the ‘Monday morning’ conversation. Do people always say what they did at the weekend, or do they leave out the part about pursuing a religious or belief-related activity because they feel uncomfortable to say so?”

Nearly one in five (17 per cent) workers said they had seen someone else experience at least one form of bullying, harassment or discrimination in the workplace, and a similar proportion (16 per cent) said they have experienced it first hand, the report found.

The majority (75 per cent) of HR managers surveyed said their organisation has offered training, professional development activities or briefings – but again, employees’ experiences didn’t match up. Less than a third (30 per cent) said that they have been offered training, and only a quarter (24 per cent) said they have attended training, professional development activities or briefings on religious diversity.

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