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Handling Different Cultures and Religions in the Workplace

By: Emma Jones - Updated: 15 Mar 2015 | comments*Discuss
Culture Religion Workplace Diverse

In today’s multi-cultural society it is likely that you will have a variety of different religions and cultures working together at your company. This can create a diverse workforce that has a greater understanding of different sectors of society. However, it can also lead to intolerance and misunderstanding. It is important to make everyone feel comfortable and accepted and to not stand for any discriminatory behaviour.

Encourage Understanding

People are often wary of what they don’t understand and the best way to make staff tolerant of other religions and cultures is to educate them. Many people may never have come into contact with people from vastly different backgrounds and it can be good for them to learn about their colleagues. Encourage understanding by providing information about different religions and cultures and holding training sessions to promote understanding and inclusion.

Don’t Allow Indoctrination

Although it is important that everybody is allowed to practice their own religion and live the way that they choose, it is also important that they do not pressure other people into doing the same. Some people are very passionate about their religions and want to pass this onto others. Although sharing information is an important part of understanding, it should not be forced on people. If someone within your organisation is trying in indoctrinate others, it must be stopped.

Celebrate Festivals

All religions have a variety of different festivals and important dates. Celebrating these and sharing traditions is a great way to get involved in each other’s cultures. Take it in turn to host a party or lunch with traditional food and customs so your colleagues can learn more about it. Creating a sense of fun and involvement about the different religions and cultures takes away the fear and helps people enjoy what the others have to offer.

Dress Code

Some religions and cultures have specific dress codes that they must adhere too. The way people dress can be very divisive and instantly labels someone as being different. You need to understand what your company’s policies are about this and whether there are any health and safety issues affecting it. People should be allowed to wear whatever they choose, providing it doesn’t interfere with their work, and other colleagues need to be tolerant of these choices.

Don’t Tolerate Discrimination

Discriminating against someone on the grounds of their religion or culture is just as bad as doing it because of race or gender. Any form of discrimination should not be tolerated and your company needs to be clear about this and address any problems. Everyone has the right to feel safe and happy in their workplace and be able to be true to their beliefs without any consequence.

Having a culturally diverse workforce can be a very beneficial thing but people need to understand and tolerate each other’s religions and cultures. Encourage understanding by educating people and including a sense of fun by celebrating each other’s festivals. Discrimination or religious indoctrination should not be tolerated and people should be free to live and dress the way they choose.

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@researcher - I am afraid we don't go deep enough into what would qualify as PhD research. You would have to consult recommended texts. Good luck with your studies.
WelfareAtWork - 18-Mar-15 @ 10:18 AM
I am in the proposal stage of a doctorate with the University of Plymouth, researching management methodology of employees of different faiths, and in particular when a company or organisation becomes involved with product or actions that conflict with the religious beliefs of the individual.Are you able to assist me with any work in this area, or indeed, can I assist you with my results of my research
researcher - 15-Mar-15 @ 10:48 AM
personally, i find this topic never-ending in the application of double standards when training facilities are based on religious beliefs and cultures - and religions are diluted by choice or insistence in different geographical places. however, free speech should allow discussion and tolerance in the interests of profit, harmony and personal gain.
----------------- - 24-Aug-12 @ 3:00 PM
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