Curt Flewelling, FISM News
The multinational market research and consulting firm Ipsos has just released some troubling statistics for supporters of free speech. The group was commissioned by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) to help them develop their Viewpoint Diversity Score Initiative (VDSI).
The conservative Christian advocacy group undertook the initiative to find out if companies were potentially alienating their workers by taking political stands on contentious social issues and creating a culture of intolerance towards diverse views in the workplace.
The study of 3,000 employed U.S. adults found that 3 in 5 workers were afraid to respectfully share religious or political viewpoints at work.
Companies have been concerned with workplace diversity in many forms for years. Several companies have invested millions of dollars in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training in order to show sensitivity and respect for their employees.
However, ADF believes that their study, and the suggestions the group has come up with to help corporations become more deferential to their employees’ religious views, is the first of its kind and long overdue.
A healthy 40% of respondents felt that current DEI training lacked any meaningful emphasis on religious tolerance and divided employees rather than uniting them. Roughly two-thirds of those surveyed felt that even respectfully discussing religious or political viewpoints would negatively impact their employment status.
ADF Senior Vice President of Corporate Engagement, Jeremy Tedesco, had this to say about the study findings: “Employees shouldn’t fear that their religious or political views could cost them their job, yet these survey results show that a significant number of employees do.”
Many pollees also reported experiencing hostile treatment from supervisors, exclusion from professional development, and being passed up for promotion because of their religious or political views.
With the very real possibility of being harassed or even fired for their beliefs, 42% of respondents report that they would be much less likely to even apply to a company whose work culture is hostile to their religious or political views.
At a time when companies are finding it difficult to retain, or even attract, good employees, it would seem illogical to alienate that many people. ADF would like to help businesses win back the trust of their disaffected employees.
ADF’s Viewpoint Diversity Score Business Index (VDSBI) was developed to assist companies in measuring and improving their respect for religious and viewpoint diversity. The VDSBI recommends policies and practices that companies can adopt to enhance their reputation as a company that respects all forms of diverse viewpoints within their enterprise.
They suggest that companies do four things to improve their respect for religious and viewpoint diversity:
- Develop and implement a well-thought-out religious accommodation policy.
- Develop and implement policy that protects employees’ exercise of their civil rights outside of work.
- Include religious charities in employee charitable giving programs.
- Participate in the survey portion of ADF’s VDSBI, which asks companies to disclose internal policies and practices that implicate civil liberties.