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Recognising all religious beliefs is key to the future of work

Kathryn Wright - Culham St Gabriel's Trust

New research highlights the importance of religious and non-religious worldviews in the British workplace

Most (63%) employees think that it is important to understand other people’s beliefs in the workplace, new research among British adults has revealed. This compares to 61% of all adults who agreed with the statement, suggesting employees are more likely to value an understanding of religious and non-religious worldviews in an increasingly globalised workplace.

The research, conducted among 2,000 adults and commissioned by education charity Culham St Gabriel’s Trust, also found that over two thirds (67%) of employees say that self-knowledge or an understanding of their own beliefs are important to them, compared to 64% of all UK adults surveyed.

Participants were further quizzed about the importance of understanding worldviews in a variety of settings. Most UK adults agreed that understanding other people’s beliefs is important for relationships with friends and family (65%), and in local communities (64%) and schools (65%).

The research also found that nearly two-thirds (64%) of adults consider religious education to be an important part of the school curriculum, with 71% agreeing that RE should reflect the diversity of backgrounds and beliefs in the UK today.

The key findings of the research include:

  • Around two-thirds of UK adults say it’s important to understand the beliefs of others in at least four contexts:
    • In everyday life (69%)
    • In relationships with friends and family (65%)
    • In school (65%)
    • In local communities (64%)
    • In the workplace (61%)
  • Two-thirds (64%) of UK adults think that an understanding of their own beliefs is important to them, while over half (57%) agree that this understanding has a positive impact on their wellbeing
  • Nearly two-thirds (64%) of the UK adult population think that it is important that RE is part of the school curriculum today
  • Two-thirds (65%) of respondents agree that RE has an impact on people’s ability to understand each other in wider society
  • 71% stated that RE should reflect the diversity of backgrounds and beliefs in the UK today
  • On the subject of religious education, respondents agreed that its role is:
    • To help young people gain a better understanding of their own beliefs (69%)
    • To foster the mutual understanding of different beliefs among young people (71%)
    • To provide young people with the opportunity to learn more about other people, beliefs, worldviews, and cultures (73%)
    • To encourage young people to openly discuss their beliefs with others (69%)
    • To help young people critically evaluate their own beliefs (65%)
    • To help young people critically evaluate the beliefs of others (65%)

Kathryn Wright, CEO of Culham St Gabriel’s Trust, said: “Over the past fifty years, Britain’s religious and cultural landscape has changed dramatically, with a decline in affiliation to some of the major religious traditions, an increase in others, and a rise in non-religious spiritual traditions.

“This, naturally, has implications for the UK workplace, with data suggesting the British workforce represents a ‘salad bowl’ of different religious and non-religious worldviews.

“As workforce demographics change and globalisation increases, this research suggests that employees are increasingly recognising the value of understanding religious and non-religious worldviews.

“Major employers are taking note too, with an increasing number of corporations seeking ways to promote religious-friendly and diverse places of work. Fortune 100 companies including Intel, American Airlines, Dell, Facebook and Apple all scored highly in the 2021 Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s assessment for their inclusion of religion as an integral part of their diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. As part of this, they will be looking for employees who are able to understand, respect and communicate with colleagues of varying worldviews.

“The research highlights the value of good RE in equipping young people with the knowledge they need in order to work and interact with others who have different perspectives. It not only plays a vital role in ensuring young people receive a balanced education and creating a more cohesive society, but also supports a vibrant economy by preparing employees and future business leaders for the globalised workplace.”

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