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Religion in business

In both recent and distant human history, world religions have had a dominant impact on human behavior. The influence religion has on individuals’ lives is far reaching and likewise it has an equal impact on the lives of customers and business partners. While it is crucial to understand the variations between all religions no matter the size, having a good concept of how religion can affect a business is much more important than business owners and employees often realize. This understanding of world religions will be very useful when dealing with aspects of running a business such as corporate locations, employee expectations, and a tolerant office environment.

When it comes to the corporate world, many jobs are outsourced and located across the world from company headquarters for the sake of profit maximization and ability access to a large number of prospective employees. One of the most popular regions for these activities is Asia, including but not limited to, China and India. When American companies merge forces with China and India, which are regions that often practice Hinduism, Buddhism, and Daoism, complications can arise. This is because, statistically speaking, companies in the United States are likely to be controlled by executive officers that practice either Christianity or Judaism and when part of a business is transferred overseas, issues regarding these societal differences can fall through the cracks. Whether it is the Muslims’ holiday requests for days off or a required blessing of office locations by local monks, a company should work to ensure that its employees are accommodated in their religious preferences. When factories and outsourced jobs are located in countries such as India, the primary way to attract employees and ensure positions are filled is with the acceptance of religions such as Hinduism and Jainism. Being the third largest religion in the world in regard to number of adherents, Hinduism and its 786 million followers reside primarily across India (Legace). Additionally, given that nearly 70 percent of customer service for large corporations is handled overseas, these offshore call centers for companies such as Dell and Oracle are heavily relied on for the overall success of these worldwide corporations (Dagher). Further, as Jainism is centered around a belief of non-violence, a new company entering the area will not be the preferred employer unless Jain practices are respected and followed. However, religion does not just come into effect when jobs are outsourced to foreign countries.

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Furthermore, the topic of employee expectations is an important aspect to be aware of when taking religion into consideration for a company. A distinctive component of this comes into play when a large corporation openly practices a certain religion. For many Americans, it is known that the Chik-fil-A organization practices Christianity and that they openly share their beliefs. One of the primary examples of this is the fact that all Chik-fil-A’s are closed all day on Sundays. Dating back to the 1950s when the origins of Chik-fil-a developed, Truett Cathy closed the restaurant on Sundays to give employees time to worship should they choose to do so. In addition, the company’s mission statement declares their purpose as, “to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us.” (Lambert) An owner of company does hold the power to identify it as a certain religion, such as Christian, but discriminating against other religions in employment or services is completely unethical and sometimes illegal. Again, while companies such as Chik-fil-A are entitled to run their company however they choose, they must also be aware of their possible religious ignorance and be tolerant of customers and employees who do not practice their religion of choice.

Moreover, practicing religious tolerance is the most important element of any successful business or employee. As spirituality enters the workplace, unfortunately so does conflict. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, reports of religious discrimination in the workplace have nearly doubled from 1997 to 2015. During this period, monetary payouts to the victims of religious discrimination have increased from 2.2 million dollars to 10.8 million dollars during this same time period (Lambert). The Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects religious activities and practices from discriminatory responses in a work environment. As offices work to increase diversity among employees, tension grows with every cultural difference. Individuals practicing Islam need time and space for prayer daily in addition to scarves and hijabs to cover themselves. While these can be easily understood, some employers have pushed boundaries in regard to what qualifies as a reasonable religious accommodation. However, this is not just about the religions which are practiced by employees, but also about the religions that are practiced by companies. Just as employees cannot force their religion upon anyone else, it is illegal for large corporations to favor certain religious practices over others.

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In conclusion, running a successful business in a cultural melting pot such as the United States of America requires a deep understanding of world religions when dealing with corporate office location, employees’ work expectations, and maintaining a tolerant work environment. While some executives have stated their disdain for the mixing of religion of business, it is not something that can be ignored. When certain individuals are taking forty or more hours per week for employment, their cultural and religious beliefs should be rightfully accommodated. Similarly, their beliefs should not be questioned or pushed to be converted in accordance with company policies. This is all because a work environment tolerant of various backgrounds will benefit more than one where the employees are unable to learn from the diversity of their fellow coworkers.

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