Wednesday, August 29, 2007

On Religious Diversity in the Workplace: You're just making those religions up

"Ditmas Park mural: Recently dubbed 'the most diverse neighborhood in America' by U.S.News & World Report, Ditmas Park attracts a broad swath of individuals and families from a wide variety of cultural, religious, and economic backgrounds." Uploaded on September 17, 2006 by anniebee on flickr

Lover of Strife writes a funny piece on religious diversity in his workplace. -gw

We had a rough morning at the office. I mean rough, as in employees quitting without warning, infuriated CEOs raining hellfire and brimstone down upon our lowly department, rough. I honestly thought nothing could help me survive the day.

That is, until B., my illustrious co-manager, summoned me to her cubicle.

“We’re interviewing someone today,” she said, dropping her voice to a stage whisper. “And she’s Mormon.”

Granted, B. couldn’t know how happy this would make me (she doesn’t read my blog), but we had a lovely bonding moment over the religious diversity that thrives in our workplace.

“I think she’ll fit in well,” B. opined. “After all, E.’s Jewish, and J. is Eastern Orthodox, and you’re Pagan, and L. is Lutheran, and we all totally get along.” Then she paused, reflective. “If only we had a Baptist.”

“Oh hey, I’m Baptist!” announced another manager.

“And that’s great!” B. replied.

Above all else, that’s what I love about my job. The people I work with come from a wide variety of religious and cultural backgrounds, and through this, we’ve managed to create a truly safe space where differences in belief and practice are not just tolerated, but accepted, and sometimes downright encouraged.

Not what you normally expect from a company based on corporate sales, but there you go. And this brief ray of sunshine in my otherwise catastrophic day pretty much made me snap.

“Alright, everyone, listen up,” I said. “Who here does not ascribe to any particular organized faith?”

My loyal subordinates looked at each other, confused and concerned, and then a few people tentatively raised their hands. Sizing up the challenge in front of me, verily I went cubicle to cubicle, assigning religions.

“Let’s see. You’re Unitarian now. And you’re Daoist. And you…” I stopped at my assistant’s desk and looked him over. “You’re Baha’i.”

He rolled his eyes at me. “For your information, I’m agnostic.”

“Oh, same difference.” I moved onto the next cubicle. “What are you?”

“Well, my mother says I live in sin.”

“Hmmm. Okay, you’re Episcopalian.

Suddenly, one of my newest employees piped up: “Ooh, ooh! I worship the Devil!”

I raised an eyebrow: “Church of Satan, or Temple of Set?”

She mulled over her options. “Never mind. I want to be Buddhist.”

And so it went. After a few minutes, everyone was happily settling into their new belief systems… except for B., who was growing increasingly skeptical.

“I think you’re just making these religions up,” she grumbled.

Whatever. She’s just [mad] because she tried to call Muslim, but I’d already stuck her with Hellenic Reconstructionist.

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