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Respecting Religious Diversity and Providing Reasonable Accommodations

Respecting the religious beliefs of others is a big part of running a pleasant and welcoming workplace environment, which is important for retaining and attracting quality staff and is directly responsible for running an optimal team. However, religious diversity is an aspect of maintaining a workplace culture that is, either subconsciously or not, ignored. A good chunk of managers assume that there should be a separation of church and state, with the state being the office in this case, but sometimes that is simply not feasible. We just celebrated Ramadan, and Muslims around the world couldn’t simply stop their fasting during the 9-5 hours. So, how can managers and employers create a more inclusive workplace that respects religious diversity and might even celebrate it? We explore this in this guide.

Importance of Religious Freedom

Why is it important to encourage religious freedom and religious diversity in the workplace? Well, the right to freely practice your religion is a fundamental human right, which doesn’t go away once you step into your place of work.

This starts with the understanding that there is a false assumption that accommodating religion is too difficult or costly and that you will have to manage conflicts between different religious practices or between religion and other policies. Communicate clearly about the rationale and process for requesting and granting accommodations to all team members to inform the rest of the team what is expected of them.

Benefits of Accommodating Religious Diversity

Additionally, religious diversity aids teams by enriching and strengthening bonds between employees. By protecting religious freedom you will promote social harmony and cohesion in a safe workplace culture.

With training you can demonstrate respect and inclusion, fostering a more welcoming environment and promoting employee satisfaction, engagement, and retention. This is important for retaining and attracting quality staff members.

Your stance on religious diversity will also reflect an organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, which is important when it comes to regulation and branding.

Understanding Religious Practices and Beliefs

The first step to creating a safe workplace environment with religious diversity is education. It’s important for everyone from the top down to understand the different religious traditions and their practices in order to create policies that respect these practices.

Recognize that religious beliefs can impact dietary needs, dress, schedules, and other aspects of daily life and approach discussions of religion with empathy, curiosity, and an open mind. Take these ideas forward into a robust training system throughout your team.

Providing Reasonable Accommodations

Armed with the required education, you can then take this information and implement it into reasonable efforts to accommodate sincerely held religious beliefs and practices. You might want to implement ideas like flexible scheduling, adjustments to dress code, and providing space for prayer or meditation.

Best Practices for Respecting Religious Diversity

It’s important to set boundaries and stick to them, not only for the well-being of your team but for the well-being of the company. There are regulations and laws focussed on religious diversity, specifically The Equality Act 2010, which protects employees from discrimination due to a range of characteristics and is regulated.

Make sure to develop clear policies and procedures for handling religious accommodation requests and enforce these policies by providing training for managers and staff on religious sensitivity and accommodation. An important run-through point of the training should be to encourage open dialogue and feedback to continuously improve inclusiveness. And remember to celebrate and share stories of successful religious accommodation attempts to get staff excited about traditions and events.


If you need any help creating policies or mediating religious diversity conflicts, visit the MM Legal website. We have expert solicitors that can aid you in training staff, disciplinary proceedings and more.