Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Why Can't Religion and Spirituality Just Stay Home?

In other words, why do we even have to negotiate religion and spirituality in the workplace?

1. Increasing religious diversity among employees has introduced a myriad of challenging situations for many employers (Do we have a Christmas tree at work? Why won't my proselitizing coworker leave me alone? Why can't I post my dead-fetus poster in the breakroom?).

2. The general trend in modern workplaces is toward non-compartmentalization (in non-military work environments), which allows that we are spiritual and/or religious at work.

3. Work has become more public because of increased hours at work and technology that makes many workers universally accessible. (In fact, there is an argument for calling corporations "quasi-public institutions" because of their power over many of us as employees and consumers.)

4. Religion in public life is frequently discussed by scholars and other members of the public. These discussions inform spirituality at work discussions.

5. The private-sector is for profit. It does not consist of religious institutions and its purpose is not as a primary religious site for employees. But given points 1-4 above, the private sector does need to realize that it deals with spirituality and religion in the workplace regardless of whether it wants to.

Summarized from pages 159-166 of Chapter 8, Respectful Pluralism at Work from Religion and the Workplace: Pluralism, Spirituality, Leadership