Many companies want to recruit and retain a diverse workforce, but not all of them realize how much their policies impact their ability to do so, especially when it comes to religious diversity. It might be good to consider whether your policies are written with an intention to attract diversity and if the daily practices of the company are reflective of that desire.
Writing your policies with religious diversity (and other aspects of varying backgrounds and cultures) in mind is one of the ways to help attract a diverse workforce. It not only helps create a welcoming environment but also helps avoid scrambling to respond to an employee request for a specific accommodation related to their culture or religion.
If you want to make your policies more inclusive of religious diversity, here are a few key steps to get you started.
Stretch your perspective
Christianity is the most common religion in the United States and that means that many of our common business practices default to accommodating those who identify as Christians. As business owners and managers, we need to take the time to consider the ways that we may be unintentionally gearing our workplace toward one specific group of people. It’s helpful to take time to learn about other religions and cultures and their experiences in the workplace. If one culture is all you have ever known or experienced, stepping outside that perspective will be a key factor in building a welcoming and diverse environment.
If there’s not much diversity in your current workforce in regard to religious beliefs, it might be challenging at first to think through policies that would appeal to people of other religious backgrounds. Do some research if needed in order to write policies with an eye toward diversity and flexibility. This is about creating policies that work both for your current employees and the employees you may hire a year from now.
Your goal should be to create policies that reflect inclusivity, particularly for various religions. That could mean flexibility for different religious holidays, extended leave options for mission work, or accommodations in the daily work environment if needed. These types of policies can directly impact your employees’ quality of life and ability to practice their faith.
Find policies that work for your company
If you want to proactively write policies that support a diverse workforce and one of your goals is to be more inclusive of all religions, holiday pay is a great place to start.
Not all faiths celebrate the same holidays, and many companies routinely shut down for Christian holidays while remaining open for others. Take, for example, Easter and Passover. Some years they are celebrated within days of each other, and many companies routinely take off Good Friday or Easter Monday but not Passover. Additionally, some employees might not be religious at all and would rather have a different day off work.
One easy way to handle this situation is through floating holidays, which an employee can customize to fit specific needs. Some companies offer complete flexibility in allowing each employee to choose eight holidays for the year, while others offer two floating holidays during the spring to cover Easter, Passover, or an extended spring break, if that’s how the employee chooses to use it. By allowing flexibility rather than handing employees a list of set holidays, you accommodate a wide range of preferences, both cultural and personal.
Another area to consider is being open to creating space for employees to practice their faith throughout the day. A Muslim employee may need a room in which to pray during certain times of the day. Thinking about ways to accommodate these requests before they arise will help create a company environment that embraces and celebrates diversity.
There are many ways of encouraging a diverse workforce. A company’s openness and attitude toward cultural diversity begins with its leaders and the policies they create. By sending a message of inclusivity, you can better attract and retain a diverse workforce.
If you need help writing or revising your company’s policies to attract and retain a diverse workforce, contact the WhyHR team to learn more about our consulting services.