Religious Diversity in the Workplace: What We’re Missing

As HR professionals, creating a workplace culture that centers on inclusion of all types is imperative, whether that refers to race, religion, gender, or any other protected group. This isn’t simply to protect our companies from lawsuits, although it certainly helps in this respect, but rather, time and time again, studies have shown that employers that make diversity a priority are simply better. Their employees are happier. They have better profit margins. They connect with their customers more. Even still, America is not doing particularly well when creating environments that welcome people of any religion, according to data from the EEOC.

Religious Discrimination Cases are Rising

The US Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) has released the statistics from 2016, and they show the country has some serious work to do. Last year, the EEOC received 3,825 complaints, up from 3,502 in the prior year. To be clear, this is the highest the country has seen since 2011, and it’s doubtful anyone has forgotten the political climate at the time which resulted in the alarmingly high number of incidents. In fact, 2011 is the only year in more than 20 years that had more religious discrimination complaints than 2016.

It’s Not What it Looks Like

It’s easy to look at the numbers and be disappointed or think the country is backsliding, but that’s not at all what’s happening. A deeper look into the number proves that, although the number of cases has gone up, the number of cases found to have “no reasonable cause,” or appeared to be brought forth without merit, has gone up. Last year, it was determined that there was no reasonable cause to believe discrimination had occurred in 70.7% of all cases- the highest in at least two decades, per the EEOC’s data. The number of cases with merit is going down.

We Still Have Work to Do

While it is a good thing that we haven’t spiked in true religious discrimination cases, these numbers still indicate that we’re getting something wrong, and that very well could be failure to create a workplace culture that’s truly inclusive. It’s not enough not to discriminate; that won’t cut back on lawsuits or perception. You should be celebrating diversity within the workplace and hiring based on the culture fit model, or choosing only employees who are just as committed to sharing your company values as you are.

Learn More About Religion Diversity in the Workplace for HR Professionals

If you’d like to learn more about how to use the culture fit hiring model or how to create an inclusive environment for your employees, we can help. At the HR Source, we specialize in helping companies update their practices, so they can reap the benefits of a truly diverse team. To learn more, this Thursday, we will hold two Diversity Brown Bags; one at breakfast, and one for lunch; which leads to our seminar, “Tips & Tools for Designing, Developing, and Delivering Diversity Training That Hits The Mark”, which will be on April 27-28 in Washington, D.C.


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