New Report Finds ‘Surge’ in Corporate Attention to Religious Diversity - Word&Way

New Report Finds ‘Surge’ in Corporate Attention to Religious Diversity

(RNS) — Once taboo in the corporate world, religion is gaining traction in Fortune 500 diversity efforts, according to a new report from the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation.

REDI Index 2024. (Courtesy Religious Freedom and Business Foundation)

More than 85% of Fortune 500 companies (429 companies total) now include religion in their commitment to diversity, more than twice the number that did in 2022, per the 2024 Corporate Religious Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (REDI) Index and Monitor. And 62 Fortune 500 companies (12.4%) now showcase faith-based employee business resource groups, up from 7.4% in 2022.

These numbers represent a “tipping point,” said Religious Freedom and Business Foundation President Brian Grim, in the number of companies embracing religion as a core component of diversity. He added that this year, companies were especially attentive to how people of faith responded to global news, including the Israel-Hamas war.

“That has meant paying a little bit more attention than they did in the past to faith identities,” he told Religion News Service. “A number of companies have reached out and relied on their faith employee resource groups to help in the navigation of these types of issues.”

"Religion on Fortune 500 Diversity Pages" (Courtesy Religious Freedom and Business Foundation)

“Religion on Fortune 500 Diversity Pages” (Courtesy Religious Freedom and Business Foundation)

The organization released its 2024 benchmark assessment of corporate America’s religious diversity efforts Monday morning (May 20). This year, Accenture and American Airlines tied as the most faith-friendly Fortune 500 companies, both earning perfect scores on the index, which assessed over 30 faith-friendly companies via an opt-in survey. The survey evaluated companies in 11 categories, including their religious accommodations, spiritual care/chaplaincy services, and procedures for reporting discrimination. Equinix, Dell Technologies, Intel Corporation, Salesforce, and Tyson Foods all followed close behind the top scorers.

Grim said Accenture stood out for proactively creating a corporate culture hospitable to religious identity. American Airlines, which also topped the REDI Index in 2022, brings great global sensitivity to its religious diversity efforts thanks to its international reach, Grim added.

“At American Airlines, our purpose is to care for people on life’s journey, including our customers and our 130,000 team members,” Cedric Rockamore, the vice president of global people operations at American Airlines, said in a press release. “Our team members, across all faiths and beliefs, help us better understand and serve our customers around the world.”

Among the 32 top companies assessed via the REDI Index, 100% reportedly celebrate their employees’ holy days in an equitable manner, according to the report. Seventy-two percent match employee donations to religious charities and 87% provide chaplains or other forms of spiritual care for their employees.

Companies that didn’t take the survey were ranked separately on their religious diversity efforts via the REDI Monitor, which was based on publicly available information.

Grim said companies’ approach to religious diversity is often counter-cultural; businesses that might otherwise be in competition are quick to share best practices for religious inclusion and collaborate on events. The Christian and Black employee resources groups at Intel and Microsoft, for example, recently teamed up to host a Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, he said. On Wednesday, DELL Technologies’ interfaith employee resource group is working with Merck, CVS Health, and three local faith groups to host a hands-on food packaging event in Washington, D.C.

“I think that’s a very hopeful trend in these polarizing times,” said Grim.

The interest in corporate religious diversity is also spreading globally, according to Grim, who noted that the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation held an international conference in India in December and released REDI Index and Monitor findings for companies in the United Kingdom in March.

On Tuesday (May 21), the foundation’s annual “Dare to Overcome” conference will bring hundreds of leaders from Fortune 500 companies to Washington, D.C., to discuss topics like workplace chaplaincy, research on faith, and faith accommodations in the workplace.