Most people tend to think of their nine-to-five job as a secular activity. When they go to work, they leave their spiritual and religious thoughts at home. However, faith is an integral part of many people’s lives. As practices like yoga, meditation and mindfulness become mainstream, employers are beginning to rethink diversity within the workplace. Instead of separating work and faith, businesses are making room for people to share their beliefs and values with others.
Allowing employees the opportunity to bring their religion or beliefs to work benefits the individual. However, sharing various ideas, viewpoints, values and beliefs can also benefit the company as a whole. Ultimately, businesses with more diverse staff will surpass their competitors and retain happier, healthier and more well-rounded employees.
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One nation, under gods
Religious pluralism is growing more common in America. People have the right to choose who and what they believe, even if that means being entirely non-religious. Of course, this may alarm those who consider their own faith to be the only true religion. However, many Americans welcome religious diversity because it represents the kind of nation the country was always meant to be. Now, rather than one nation under God, we are one nation under many gods — or none at all.
Historically, this narrative aligns with native inhabitants’ beliefs. Native Americans practiced non-Christian faiths long before Europeans arrived. They worshipped different elements of nature and believed in many different gods. Early immigrants, including Jews and Muslims, added diversity to the melting pot of America.
Europe’s arrival quickly squelched religious and spiritual diversity, but it seems that pagans, Wiccans, spiritualists and others are finally demanding the same rights that Christians have taken for granted all along. Now, many are fighting for diversity in the workplace as a way to benefit themselves, businesses and the country as a whole.
In much the same way, yoga was never meant to align with a single religion, nor does it adhere to one. Rather, asana, breath and meditation practices have always been a technology for inner wellbeing. They encourage you to make your own path and do what’s right for you and those around you.
Moreover, the spiritual practice of yoga allows each person to find God within themselves and the natural world, irrespective of their religious beliefs, culture or ethnicity. In short, yoga is about harmonizing oneself with the universe and finding equanimity. Within this practice, there is no room for hostility or discord. Embracing spiritual and religious diversity is the only option. Thanks to yoga’s diverse and welcoming philosophy, many people find spiritual community at studios and through online platforms. Whether you’re a teacher, a practitioner or both, the more awareness you can bring to your practice, the more spiritually diverse your space will become. By cultivating an open mind and welcoming spirit, you can include all different kinds of people with various belief systems and faiths. More importantly, you’ll align and center yourself with others and the universe.
Many entrepreneurs, business owners and employees are looking to cultivate awareness and take spiritual diversity to the workplace. For instance, within the law firms industry, only 46% of associates are women, many of whom maintain various spiritual beliefs and practices. As the industry recruits more women and underrepresented minorities, they’ll have to make room for religious differences and various ways of thinking. Only then can they truly promote diversity in their office buildings.
Prayer rooms, midday meditations and post-work yoga classes are good places to start. These amenities will allow workers to engage their whole self during the work day without leaving or feeling as if they must hide their spirituality. In fact, some people’s faith might grow stronger as employers offer more spiritually-engaging opportunities. Once employers establish a space to pray, meditate, move and simply be, they must make room in everyone’s schedule so employees can spend time there if they wish. Moving between different physical locations at work will allow them to keep their professional work separate from religious observances without offending or pressuring others.
Keeping an open mind
Of course, bringing spiritual and religious diversity to the workplace can cause some complications. Once everyone’s beliefs become more public, some employees may openly disagree with one another. However, as long as they voice their opinions without judgment or violence, these differences can prompt dialogue that ultimately cultivates acceptance and inclusivity.
It’s best to keep an open mind when you and others bring their faith into the workplace. As you engage in conversations about religion and spirituality, you may find nuggets of truth in others’ opinions and even open up to new ways of thinking. In the end, this healthy and sustainable workplace diversity will benefit you, your coworkers and the company as a whole.