Global brands have come together in Downing Street to discuss and share ideas on being faith-friendly employers. The first "Faith and Work" summit the government has held, it was hosted by Chief Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen MP, who is a Christian.
“It's time to share that there's actually some good news that many companies are becoming faith-friendly." Brian J. Grim told Premier before the gathering. Brian is President of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, and an expert on the positive socio-economic impact of religious freedom: "There's a long way to go. But we're off to a good start,” he said.
Google, American Express, Salesforce, Rolls Royce Thames Water and OVO energy were among a range of companies present in Downing Street to meet the All Party Parliamentary Group on Freedom of Religion and Belief in parliament on Monday, to discuss how a person’s religious beliefs are an asset in the workplace, rather than a problem.
“There's a sea change happening right now,” explained Dr Grim. Speaking to Premier Christian News, he said the global customer service software platform, Salesforce is a good example.
“In Australia, there was a Christian member of Salesforce who had an LGBT friend, who said to him, ‘How come it is that I can come out as gay and you can't come out as Christian? ...I'm gonna raise that in our next, All Hands meeting’.
“And the gay guy raised his hand and said, ‘Hey, I don't know why my buddy here, he’s Christian, can't come out, like I've come out? He can come out as Christian, as I can come out as gay.’ And that started the change in the company,” he explained.
Grim works with U.S Fortune 500 companies to include Religion and Belief as part of their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, and says current business practice is not equitable.
“It's not fair that some identities that are important to people - whether it's race, gender, disabilities, sexual orientation... somehow get elevated, and faith is left behind”, he said.
“What we're seeing is that companies, especially some of the biggest and best companies, are embracing this and moving in this direction... There's a long way to go, many companies haven't embraced it, but this is a breakthrough, truly a breakthrough,” he argued.
Speaking on Monday, Geoff Sweeney of the University of Derby’s Multifaith Centre agreed that businesses are doing more to embrace faith, which leads to a happier and more productive workforce.
Grim, who's from the United States, says that the evidence points in the direction that shows where religious freedom is respected by governments and societies, they do better and are more competitive.
“Our largest protein producer in America, Tyson Foods, employs chaplains at every one of their production facilities to care for the spiritual needs of their employees,” Grim continued.
“They say, ‘Well, you know, we realise not everybody shares the same faith, but out of our compassion, we want to make sure that we care spiritually for the whole person and their family, and not just, you know, expect workers to come here’,” Grim said.
Following Monday's summit, Salesforce have announced they will host a Faith and Work Summit on 20th November, which will bring together companies from around the world to meet each other and share best practice.