Tanenbaum’s national survey, ‘What American Workers Really Think About Religion,’ finds religious discrimination is rampant in American workplaces with members of different religions all experiencing religious prejudice at work.
NEW YORK – Consider a typical workplace: meetings, production deadlines, coffee or smoke breaks and casual Fridays all come to mind as part of the routine. But when it comes to prayer breaks, wearing religious garb in the office and other accommodations specific to religion, that’s a different story.
This Labor Day, a new national survey released by the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding makes the point. Today,more than one-third of workers report observing or being subjected to religious bias at work. The survey, What American Workers Really Think About Religion: Tanenbaum’s 2013 Survey of American Workers and Religion, examines religious bias and discrimination against American workers.
“This survey puts employers on notice,” said Tanenbaum CEO Joyce Dubensky. ”American workplaces in-creasingly reflect the makeup of the country; they’re more and more diverse. Work is the place where people with extremely different beliefs interact on a regular basis. But where there’s more diversity, the survey shows that we can expect to find more conflict.”
Survey results confirm that a majority of workers believe Muslims are facing discrimination at work. The Muslim community is not alone.
“Other groups report being marginalized too, including members of other minority religions in the U.S. and atheists,” explained Dubensky. “But that is just part of the story.”
In fact, the survey shows that workplace discrimination is also a serious issue for many members of America’s Christian majority. Six in ten white evangelical Protestants agree that discrimination against Christians has become as big a problem as discrimination against other religious minorities.
“The experience of discrimination by the white evangelical community is a real issue for companies. It’s also a societal issue, one that goes beyond the workplace,” Dubensky said. “Workers from the white evangelical community are twice as likely to believe that they are experiencing a lot of discrimination, as they are to be-lieve that African-Americans are being discriminated against.”
“Religion is one key way that people define themselves,” revealed Dubensky. “Being harassed at work be-cause of your religion, or not being allowed to follow basic beliefs such as observing a required prayer is painful. Such experiences affect morale and, ultimately, impact a company’s ability to attract talent. The good news is that the survey shows that this can be turned around through smart policies that address employees’ diverse religious needs. Do that and you increase the likelihood of having happier employees and less turnover.”
Other findings from Tanenbaum’s survey include:
“If there’s one message from this survey, it’s that religion is a workplace issue,” Dubensky suggested. “Employers who ignore it, do so at their own risk.”
Tanenbaum conducted the 2013 Survey of American Workers and Religion with Public Religion Research LLC. The survey provides a comprehensive picture of American workers’ experience with religious discrimination and bias in workplaces, as well as their perceptions of discrimination in American society. The survey’s respondents are a random sample of over 2,000 employed American adults. For a limited time, the survey is available as a free PDF download, with print copies for sale, on Tanenbaum’s website.