Diversity issues have been a prominent point of discussion in the field of accountancy in recent years. The conversation has largely centered on how gender and racial diversity can be improved in individual workplaces and in the field as a whole.
One aspect of diversity that has received less focus and attention is religious diversity. While religious diversity seems to have less immediate relevance to the workplace, it remains a crucial issue for businesses in the United States.
Why Religious Diversity Matters
According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, religious discrimination claims have nearly doubled since 2001. One of several high-profile incidents in recent years was a Colorado company firing 150 Muslim workers from its beef processing plant in Colorado after a dispute over prayer breaks.
While the federal Civil Rights Act requires employers to accommodate their workers’ religious needs to a reasonable extent, political tensions and intolerance have stirred conflicts and generated instances of religious discrimination. Given that background, it falls on workplaces companies to expand and clarify their support for religious diversity.
Accounting firms, in particular, have emerged as leaders in efforts to accommodate employees’ religious needs. One notable example of a firm successfully integrating religious accommodations is the firm EY.
At EY, workplaces have “quiet rooms” designed for employees to pray, reflect, or simply take a short break from work. To help minimize conflict, EY designs work calendars and schedules around major religious and cultural holidays. EY addresses other common complaints by providing dietary options (such as kosher and vegetarian foods) at company functions and allowing religious attire.
Clear, accommodating religious diversity policies that provide flexible hours for religious observance can be essential for a company’s employee retention and satisfaction. Accounting firms that explicitly advertise their religious accommodations may hire from a larger, more diverse pool of prospective talent.
As a workplace that practices diverse and international hiring, SDC CPAs recognizes the value of supporting religious diversity. Making these accommodations and tolerant polices is an essential aspect of integrating diversity and supporting a diverse workplace.