How Interfaith Groups Make Work Better

>> PAUL: Hi everyone, my name is Paul Raushenbush. I am the senior advisor for public affairs and innovation at Interfaith Youth Core. I am thrilled about this conversation. Thank you for joining us, I am honored to be with this group of interfaith pioneers, I have

Been working in this field for a long time. I view these four panelists as pioneers in interfaith work who have made space in the workplace for people to come as they are, in the fullness of themselves as religious people, as spiritual people, no matter what

The world view. They add to the richness of the grand mix of what makes the company or an organization an excellent place to work, and a good place to spend a lot of our time which is what we do at work. We spend a lot of our lives there. These people have helped

Make individuals feel less alone, they have helped communities enjoy the diversity, the richness that exists within that space. Over the next hour, we are going to talk about interfaith, ERG which is employee resource groups or business resource groups as our

Twitter friend will explain to us. Then also, we will have a chance to hear from your questions, we want to know what goes into these things, we want to know what some of the needs are that they have met. What is the future of this kind of work in organizations and corporations?

This is a discussion between all of us and we hope we will all go away enriched and excited about the possibility of interfaith groups and interfaith cooperation located in companies. I want to start by extending my deep thanks to Farah Siddiqui, who is at Salesforce who

Founded FaithForce at Salesforce. Who really helped to organize this panel, she has this network, this wonderful network. Again, thank you very much, Farah. I’m going to do very brief introductions for each of the panelists because what you don’t want to hear is me

Droning on about it. We are going to put their longer bios in the chat, and I urge you to look at each of their bio and find these people because they are doing incredible work. Starting with Farah Siddiqui the manager of trailhead programs and processes at Salesforce and the

Cofounder and global president of FaithForce, Salesforce’s interfaith employee resource group. Dan Eckstein is a director within Accenture media and technology practice, he is the leader of extensions Jewish employee resource globally as well as the lead of interfaith employee resource group in the Northeast. Mike Klose is the cofounder and cochair of Twitter’s

Newest BRG, business resource group Twitter Faith, where he gets to champion faith inclusion at Twitter for his fellow tweeps, which is a new term for me and we will be hearing a little bit about that, around the globe and I encourage you to follow Mike on Twitter

Of course. Becky Pomerleau serves as the director of finance risk management at PayPal where she also co-leads PayPal interfaith diversity and inclusion community. Again, a huge thank you to all of our panelists and I’m going to start with you Farah Siddiqui to talk about

The genesis of FaithForce and a little bit about what are the needs that are unmet and how did you manage to start this interfaith ERG at Salesforce. >> FARAH: Thank you Paul, for a great intro. I’m excited to be here and share a little

Bit about our story at Salesforce and how we brought faith inclusion. Before I go into that, I want to give a little bit of insight into who I am which will kind of feed into why FaithForce came about. I am Muslim, born and raised in Miami, Florida. I grew up with

This identity, it has been part of me my whole life. I would say my interfaith journey has been lifelong. Because in grade school, I was an “only,” in middle school I was in “only,” in the mall I would be the only one looking like myself. In all the spaces

You want to find ways to fit in, ways to belong. I think I did that; I did that through an amazing community that I was supported by with just the Muslim community, the Pakistani community that I was part of. Also, through friendships that I made in school with people

Who are different. My best friend in elementary school was a Jehovah’s Witness. My best friend in high school was a Seventh-day Adventist. Through these relationships, it wasn’t like I was the only odd one out, they were too. We could do it together. We could be different

Together and respect each other. It was just a beautiful kind of upbringing. Being different, it was just normal to me. At the same time, I don’t think anybody likes it. To be the odd one out. Having to put on tights underneath my shorts in gym and everybody look at me

Weird like, why is she doing that? Or not eating the hotdogs during the lunch day, everyone is excited about because I couldn’t, they weren’t halal or kosher. All those things kind of weigh on you, always being a little bi6 left out and feeling that lack of belonging

That you see everybody else around you experiencing. Move on to college, finally, and a lot of the attendees here might be in college right now, or in that university setting. I was actually the president of the Muslim Student Association at my university. Why did I find

That community? Because I wanted to find like-minded people when you are surrounded by people who aren’t like you, to have that community and that support just builds your confidence in your identity. It was such a valuable time for me to find that space of belonging in

The college setting. This was all pre-9/11, then 9/11 happens. Just for my community it was just a very difficult, for the world it was a very difficult time but for the Muslim community in America to be viewed as suspicious and all the stuff, the baggage that went around

With that. There was such a need to go beyond yourself and show people that what you’re seeing in the news, what you’re seeing in the movies, that is not my community. There is so much more to Muslims and my experience is not any of that. How do I go across my

Identity and talk to people and help them see the beauty of my tradition? That is kind of led me to constantly talking and learning, joining events and listening to stories that helped me connect with people who are different. I found so much value in learning about different

Identities. Like the Black expense, LGBTQ experience and seeing my struggle in that story. Like, I relate, whatever you went through, it’s a very different lens of what I went through but at the heart, those feelings were so similar. I heard all these other stories

And I was like where is my story? Where is that faith experience? It just wasn’t as loud, and I just wanted to know if there could be space for it. Then come into work, I’ve been in corporate America for around 12 years and throughout my entire career I’ve been the

Only one who has looked like me and believed like me in the spaces that I was in. An office of 30 people or an office of 200 people, I was the only hijabi woman. Everyone’s nice, everyone’s caring, but do I really belong? There’re walls that I’m creating, there

Are walls that exist because of perceptions I know people have about my faith and they just don’t know how to talk to me about it. Can we talk about it? Can we break down those walls? At Salesforce there is already a culture of belonging, of allyship, but there just

Wasn’t that faith narrative. I just reached out to the office of equality, and asked a question to the program owner there saying, “can we add an element of faith inclusion, can we try an interfaith group?” He was down for it and he said let’s do some research

And see what we can come up with. So, we talked to a few different companies to see how they were set up and how they approached it. We didn’t really see an interfaith model; we saw a lot of faith-based models. I just knew I didn’t want to go that route, I wanted to

Find a space for myself to be able to be supported in who I am but I wanted to go beyond myself too, because there is so much value in going outside of yourself and learning about the other. How can we combine that – be your authentic self, confidence in who you are,

But also build those relationships across divides, in my case religious divides, but everything else too. FaithForce came about, we put a charter together and pitched it to our executives and they said let’s do it! No pushback, maybe a little bit, make sure

We know—how are we going to address if this happens, or that happens, there’s always concerns when you talk about religion at work? Our charter was very clear how we were going to address it. We have an HR structure at a company just like any others, so any issues we can

Just direct in the right channels. When it comes to inclusion and belonging, recognizing that faith is just a part of our identity. When we say bring your full self to work, that part is included. You couldn’t really argue against it. We got set up and launched

In five cities initially. Since then, we have grown to over 17 cities across five continents, 3000+ members of all different faith backgrounds. It has been an amazing journey; we have 50,000 employees at Salesforce, and I need to reach them all. The work is not done, but just really

Excited to be able to make a difference in my own little way. >> PAUL: Thank you so much, that was inspiring. Mike, can you tell us about your experience at Twitter? >> MIKE: For sure, first off for anybody that missed the intro, my name is Mike. I’m one

Of the cofounders and cochairs of Twitter Faith, our multifaith BRG. I use he/him pronouns, Twitter is also hiring for anybody looking for a job. Thank you so much for having me here today, I really, really appreciate this conversation. Just hearing Farah speak and

Sharing a bit of her story, I don’t know how I can follow that. Yeah, when it comes to Twitter Faith, I think I would be remiss not to give credit to a handful of other Twitter employees who, before I ever got involved, they raised their voice to our leadership

To say that faith is missing from our inclusion and diversity work, very similar to what Farah identified. Our Twitter employees which I will probably end up referring to as tweeps just by habit, they indicated to our leadership that we need to get better at this and to

Be honest, I didn’t know, I work in an office that is about 40 people. I’m probably one or two of those 40 people that identify with faith, it is not something I really talk about work or, not used to. I didn’t really know it was even possible to just raise my voice

To our leadership and indicate this. But, I am grateful for other tweeps who did, and we already have amazing work being done with existing BRG’s in our company. If our goal is truly to make Twitter the most inclusive and diverse tech company in the world, then

Faith needs to be represented as its core to the identity of billions of people around the world. Fortunately, we have such a supportive inclusion and diversity team. Making the case for Twitter faith, I don’t think was a huge challenge. Getting it off the ground has been

A very interesting experience to say the least, we launched back in January right heading into a global lockdown. As Paul mentioned, we do call our group a BRG, so a business resource group. The difference there between an ERG and a BRG. The way I see it is that

BRGs are uniquely positioned to not only impact the employee experience, but also have a voice in the policies, the products and services that our company creates and puts out in the world. For example, something that is a work in progress for us right now is, how do we

Tackle the anti-Semitism that is happening admittedly on our platform and how do we get better at getting it off our platform? That is up to us as a BRG, we are able to make the recommendations and have a seat at the table in those conversations. When it comes

To the goal and mission of our BRG, we are multifaith. We were established in order to acknowledge, celebrate and foster understanding of global faith, belief, diversity, both within our company and on our service. That again, that all ladders up to this idea of bringing

Your whole authentic self to work, not feeling like you need to check your faith at the door when you come in, not feeling like you need to head to the parking lot to pray. Not shying away from talking about your beliefs or telling people that you went to church on the weekend,

Or that you prayed about this idea that you had at work. We really want to provide cover for our tweeps and give tweeps permission to practice their faith, both at work and also, through their work. I would just say, the biggest learning that we have had in the

Past eight or so months, in starting this BRG if I can share for anyone who is looking to start one at their company or organization, we spent the bulk of the first bit just really brainstorming ideas, trying to crystallize our principles on what the BRG actually stands

For and shout out to Farah, we might have taken a peek at your charter to get some ideas as well. That was super helpful in helping us clarify, what do we stand for? A lot of trial and error, my biggest learning if you take anything away from what I’m saying, is

To form a team around you, I am nothing without my fellow chairs, without my fellow office ambassadors, we also have a committee internally within Twitter Faith, knowing I am definitely not a subject matter expert in every single faith or belief out there. We have a committee

Of probably about 10 right now tweeps that cover a whole bunch of different faiths that will consult us and answer questions that we have about different observances, holidays or just things about different faiths that I myself wouldn’t know about. That has been

Invaluable to getting things off the ground and establishing processes and really advocating for all of our Tweeps around the world. I will leave it at that, and I don’t want to take up all the time and want to hear from the other folks as well.

>> PAUL: I think it might be helpful actually if you all can find your mission statements or like your principles of operation and it would be great to supply those to the folks listening so that they can walk away with those resources, or we can send out an email

Tomorrow. Becky, do you want to go next? >> BECKY: Absolutely, I really appreciate the opportunity to be here, and to be sharing because a part of our mission for our interfaith group which we call Believe is to not just

Impact within the four walls of PayPal, but also to impact the communities where we do business and beyond. Again, I really appreciate this opportunity. I pick up on a couple of things that Mike and Farah have shared so far. I would also say for those who are interested

In starting, or just in the process of getting started, that benchmarking is so important because it really helps break down some of the concerns that folks may be having. You may have this concern, but look, Salesforce is already doing this, or Twitter is already

Doing this etc. So we, being a tech company in Silicon Valley, we’ve specifically benchmarked with Salesforce, Google, Apple, Facebook, companies that we couldn’t have people within PayPal saying, “Oh, maybe an airline is able to do that, but that is totally a different

Company culture.” We wanted people benchmarked in similar industries as us. Again, it was an appropriate benchmarking and likewise, we had looked at Farah’s charter and kind of the slide that has that here is what we will do, here’s what we’ll not do. We

Have something similar that has been a very effective communication tool because you can put it in the mission statement out there. And then people always. the very next question is, “OK, but what does that really mean in practice?” We likewise have a slide that

We always share accompanying our mission statement that says here is what we are about and here’s what we are not about. We are not about promoting a political agenda, we are not about promoting one faith over another, we are also not about trying to say, well, all faiths are basically

The same. Those are some things that as we also took around a year to get to the point of lunching, have been really key in our journey. I will take a step back and go to some of my personal reasons as well for helping to cofound Believe at PayPal. Six years ago,

I suffered a series of heart attacks. Which, I was someone who had always been an athlete my entire life, I had no pre-existing conditions, no family history of heart disease, so it came as a complete shock. In fact, the damage from the heart attacks were so severe that

Within a day of experiencing my second heart attack, I was in need of a heart transplant, which I was blessed to receive just two weeks later, which is a pretty quick turnaround by most standards, sometimes folks are on the waiting list for months or even sometimes,

Depending on the severity of their condition, a year. On a side note, if you’re not signed up to be an organ donor, please do. But what really helped me through that life alternating, painful experience of waking up in a different hospital like five days later, from skiing

And active one day, to waking up in another hospital learning I needed a heart transplant. My hope and my stability during that time were really my faith. When I was able, seven months later, to come back to work, I was thinking, that sense, that source of hope,

That source of resiliency, that’s something that I want to be able to bring more fully into my everyday life and into my work. I was very fortunate to have some connections with people in leadership positions at PayPal, who had come from other companies like AMEX

Who did have faith-based employee resource groups and had had them for like 20+ years. Our senior vice president general counsel at the time, former, but at the time, Wanji Walcott was the one who really helped from an executive level champion this. So, you

Can imagine when you have, like, your head of legal saying we should do this, that breaks down a lot of potential barriers that I’ve heard folks have run up against in other companies. And so, for me, it was really about, truly, I know it sounds a little bit cliché, but

Being able to bring that full, your whole self to work. As we were trying to convince our HR folks and our diversity and inclusion programs that there was momentum around this, what really kind of tipped the scales for us is, we had a conscious inclusion training

That everyone at PayPal was going through. One of the things they did in the training was asked people to just throw out some phrases that describe their core identity. They were finding that a lot of people actually were saying phrases or words that made reference

To their faith background. It wasn’t necessarily so much about something that you could visually observe about them, which was where our existing, what at the time we called diversity and inclusion communities, but it was something much deeper than that. Their core identities were much

Deeper than that. Our next decision point also was around, well, should we have an interfaith employee resource group? Or should we have the separate ERGs by faith background? It was really important to our D and I team to make sure that we were being inclusive and

In addition to that, as we were benchmarking with some of the other tech companies that I mentioned, who do have a variety of models. We really looked at what Salesforce was doing and said, gosh, that seems like when we think about making sure we are being inclusive and

That we are actually , when we set out are mission statement to say we want to increase understanding and awareness, we are not going to achieve that mission if we are still in our separate groups. We really want to be functioning together as an interfaith group.

That’s why we chose to go interfaith, we launched in December of last year, it was kind of a soft launch at our corporate headquarters and we did our formal global launch in June of this year. Also, in the virtual world which has had its pros and cons, certainly our programming

Because it is all done virtual is now available to folks around the world. On the other hand, we do lose a little bit of some of that in person connectivity and local office connectivity, but definitely I’m very grateful that I’ve had this opportunity to start our interfaith

Group and get it off the ground. We are at a point now where we’ve been able to get programing in place to have, which we will talk more about in a little bit, you know, things for folks to start engaging in. Our next step and our kind of next challenge is

Really, how do we, now that we are getting, increasing our membership, how do we make sure that we are putting in place the right leadership positions because we have representation from all of the major world religions. We also want to make sure we are bringing in

Representation from humanists, spiritualists that maybe don’t fall into that. Also, just the run the business type of stuff of having a communications chair, a growth chair and those types of things, that is where we are at now is making sure we get people in those

Roles so we can really grow this thing to the vision that we have. >> PAUL: Thank you, thank you. Dan, let us know what Accenture’s doing, and we’ll move on to our next question. >> DAN: Sure, and thank you again for having me. It’s an honor to be with some of my peers

Who are all on the journey of helping our employees at every company bring their whole selves to work as it relates to faith. To me, my background is similar in some respects to what Farah was saying, with the same regard, very different. For me, as an Orthodox Jewish

Person, I grew up in more of a world where my peers and friends, you know, going to private school, Jewish private school, my world was really the Jewish world. It was really only until I came into the workplace where I had that exposure to people that weren’t like

Me. The questions about do I wear a kippah, or do I not wear a kippah. These are questions of how to deal with the food situation when I’m going out for dinner, do you order XYZ or something else? So how open do I share with people about what is important to me,

Related to my faith? Those were deep questions I had to ask myself as I was going into the workplace. I had a couple of jobs and really was solidified in terms of where I was sitting

But it was really only when I came to Accenture and I remember it was probably like a year or so into it, my time here, and I heard about the, our local office, was—had some money

At the end of the fiscal year and made $1000. They heard that I was Jewish and were like, oh, we had a Jewish group, but they never really did anything, do you want the money? I said great, let’s take it, let’s figure out how we’ll be able to spend this to be

Able to engage our employees. We took our Jewish group that then was just like maybe 15 or 20 people in the New York office and we went to Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway, which was right around our office in New York. It was our first event where we were bringing

People together and people were saying, wow, this is amazing that we are able to have this happen in the workplace. And then, you know, after that, I heard about this bigger interfaith group which wasn’t necessarily doing a ton, but it was around. At Accenture, it’s been

A journey for us on, you know, an interfaith spectrum. For us, it really started probably around 10 years ago as an affinity circle, which was mostly Christian employees who are gathered around the room to learn and pray together. That is sort of how it started as

A grassroots movement. It was more of an opportunity to really get people of similar like-minded interests together to be able to figure out how do they come together in the work environment. Over the years, our faith groups have really started to spring up into different areas.

Then, that has transitioned into a more formalized structure where we have both the faith groups and we have interfaith. Interfaith is the overall umbrella, then you have different faith groups Muslim, Buddhist, Baha’i, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, atheist, nonbelievers and Sikh,

And we’re now having a stronger alignment at the interfaith level with I and D, inclusion diversity leads, in order to have that tighter integration both with the company but also, between faith and interfaith. So that’s sort of been our structure and for us, one

Of the things that stands out for me is one of our building bridges workshops and what we did was after the series of racial events that happened a couple of years ago and unfortunately still to this day is building these connected workshops to bring our employees together

To talk about these topics. We ended up doing one, specifically around faith. It was just an empowering event where we brought different clergy from all the different faith groups to come in and talk. We ended off the end of the day with a Friday night Sabbath dinner

At a restaurant on the upper West side, where we had an interfaith audience being able to understand from a Jewish faith. What do the Jewish people do on a Friday night? What are the songs they are singing? To be able to experience that both from the Jewish perspectives

And from others who are non-Jewish to be able to share those types of experiences was totally different in the workplace. To me, a lot of our time now is focused on how do we make sure we have those policies and procedures, so a lot around, you know, we’re building

A new office in One Manhattan West, making sure that we have a prayer space and being able to figure out what are the things that help our employees be able to do that. From the perspective of what are the policies that, someone who wants to let’s say, come out

Of the closet, that could be from an LGBT perspective, or a faith perspective, or a disability perspective, it doesn’t make a difference. How do we make those, make sure that employees are empowered to have those types of conversations? It’s so important.

Because if the policies are there to support the employees, then the employees are necessarily going to be able to have the strength to be able to share what is important to them. Making sure that we have the policies and that we empower people. Then, it’s really training

All of our employees, across all levels around these faith accommodations. Being able to train our recruiting teams, our business teams, and finds those opportunities, like what Mike was talking about, of how do we figure out that connection to the business? Is there

A way for us to be able to think through a financial services company that wants to think about how do they bring faith into an investment strategy? How can we as consultants help them through that journey? I think what is important, especially now, is this idea of intersectionality,

Of being able to look at things not just with our own groups but also our neighboring groups. That could be both from an LGBT or racial perspective, trying to see what are the things that bring us together? Because I think that often is the thing that will really solidify

Our relationships is seeing the commonalities that we have and realizing that we are so similar together. That is a little bit about our journey, and we are now on that growth and expansion phase, moving to different locations, expanding our training, being able to really

Be pulled in by the company for these important initiatives versus, you know, the opposite. >> PAUL: I love that, I think I heard that there was actually the new corporate office was going to incorporate a prayer space which, to me, is quite revolutionary. If these groups

Can help influence the architecture of corporate America, that is really something. That’s a good example, you gave a couple good examples of how to concretize the work that you’re doing and what it really means to the employees who are in your companies. I would love for

You each to offer a brief anecdote of a time which really comes to your mind about why the work you are doing matters to people and their lives. If you could each offer just a brief anecdote of a time over the last year or two, when you felt like the work of your

Interfaith ERG or BRG, was really making a solid difference in the life of someone who showed up to work on a certain day. Farah, why don’t you kick us off and we’ll go around. >> FARAH: Sure, I have a couple of examples, you want me to keep it brief, I will try to

Find the best one. One thing is, as a person from a minority group or minority tradition, seeing that support is huge. We see that right now with our Black employees, feeling supported, feeling like your voice is heard, your community’s pain is felt, and work is done to address

It, right? I think that matters so much to our employees. As a Muslim and, you know, you can use this example for a Jewish employee, a Christian employee, there’s so many ways to look at it but, as a Muslim, coming into work when I know there is some crazy stuff

Happening in the world related to my community, it brings you down. It hurts, you want to go into a room and cry, and you have to get out and just do your work and act like nothing is wrong and that is hard. To come into work and actually, people hear about the Christchurch

Shooting, and your manager texting you in the morning saying, “Are you OK? Everything all right? If you need to take a break, go ahead.” The fact that they feel comfortable enough to reach out and say that to me now, the past 10 years no one ever said anything

About anything. It is just such a testament to the value of just creating that group, that space, that this is okay to talk about guys. Your Jewish employee is hurting right now, it’s OK to ask them if they are OK, to give them the day off if they need it.

Just like we are doing for our Black employees who need to know that we understand, and we care, and we are here to support you. At Salesforce, after Tree of Life, after Christchurch, after the Sri Lanka shootings, after these events the impacted our faith communities, where

We knew they were hurting we rallied together as a company and had these healing circles and brought in speakers from different faith traditions. For the Tree of Life example, we brought in a rabbi to share some beauty around the Jewish traditions on just explaining

About grief, and mourning, and support, and community. It was just a beautiful time to sit with their Jewish employees and listen to them and say that we are here if you need us and, as a company, we support you. And just donating where we can donate to help

Support, right? We did the same thing for Christchurch and the Muslim communities. That being shown love, and support, and seeing the tweets from your CEO, just, I never expected something like that at work. To see that FaithForce was able to help this come about. Because,

As Mike mentioned, it doesn’t take one person, it takes a team. We have an amazing team of global leaders, regional leaders, executives who are just so supportive of this message. So, I think that has been so empowering for employees to see that support. For Sikh employees

As well, right? It doesn’t matter what your identity is, we are here to support you and that is known now at the company and I think that is pretty huge. >> PAUL: Thank you. Becky, do you want to go next?

>> BECKY: At PayPal, we have other companies as well, I think you’ve used the word allyship, right? And we have an acronym for allyship—the “A” stands for “act,” “listen, learn, and yield your privilege.” In terms of ally, right? That’s how we kind of help teach

People how to be an ally, not necessarily in that order, because you should probably listen and learn before you act. A lot of our events in our year one here are focused around the listening and learning. A shout out to Farah, she was a guest speaker at an

Event that we hosted, a learning event that we hosted around Ramadan. And really describing for attendees not only what is Ramadan and how is it celebrated, but specifically, based how it is celebrated, how can you support your Muslim colleagues in the workplace? For

Example, please do not schedule meetings at the time that they are breaking their fast because they have not eaten all day, and this is their chance to actually get to eat. Or during Ramadan, please don’t, while people are fasting during the day, let’s not schedule

A big smorgasbord type of event for everyone, except your Muslim colleague feels left out because they cannot partake in that event. So, coming out of that event, what was really I think a key win for us, is that our Muslim colleagues were saying how, Farah talked about

This already, but how it made them feel so included when there were all these people not of the Muslim faith attending the event, and actively wanting to, having that natural curiosity, and actively wanting to learn about it. When we have Muslim events, it is not,

OK, so all the Muslim people show up. We have Muslim events and the Christian, and the Jewish, and the atheist and everyone else show up in addition to the Muslims. But to really learn about it, to build those bridges even within our faith communities so that we can

Support each other in the workplace. >> PAUL: Great. Mike? >> MIKE: When I think about impacts of Twitter Faith so far, I think that one thing we discovered pretty quickly was that a really easy entry point for people into the conversation around

Faith is food. Normally, in non-COVID times, we would be gathering around a table with our friends, and our families, and communities and sharing a meal, and having conversation. But, obviously, that is not possible right now. But even still, food provides a way to

Break down barriers. Take that, alongside this idea that faith is fun. I think we get so caught up sometimes in being really serious about faith, there is a time and a place for sure, don’t get me wrong. When I think of my beliefs in the Bible, it says the joy of

The Lord is your strength. At Twitter Faith, we are trying to find ways—How do we make faith fun and accessible and create an entry point for people? Over the course of the past six months, we put on now four different virtual events where, for four different faith traditions

And occasions, Tweeps have done a cooking demonstration for some kind of a dish or baked good that relates to the occasion that they are celebrating. We started with Purim a few months back, where a Tweep made these hamantaschen cookies, which were so deliciously looking,

I didn’t taste it myself. From there, we moved on to Orthodox Easter, where another Tweep from Ireland did a baking demo of this cake she was making. Then, we moved on to Islamic new year which is not so much the most celebratory type of occasion, but it does call for a meal

With community and family, and it’s through that demonstration that we are able to start to explain traditions to people, start to share what it is that we believe and why we believe it. How we celebrate it, also during this time what makes it hard to celebrate.

I think it is really meaningful for our Tweeps to share with their colleagues like yeah, Rosh Hashanah, it really sucked that I couldn’t have a meal with my entire family, but I made this challah bread and it looks so wonderful. We’ve really been prioritizing things like

That and the impact that we’ve seen, is that this conversation around faith is going outside of the borders of just people’s faith, but into the rest of the company as well. That is what we are looking to do more of in the future.

>> DAN: For me, I would, obviously I think what Farah mentioned specifically around the leadership around when those tragedies occur I think has been super uplifting for me. I remember after the Pittsburgh shooting, seeing a text message from the head of HR, Ellyn

Shook at Accenture, when she texted me like, Dan, are you okay? Can you talk? At that point we just ended the Shabbos and I had no clue what was going on. I was wondering, am I going

To get fired. At the end of the day, being able to have that relationship with our leadership and, you know, getting on the phone with the CEO that night and her saying, “I’m going to personally write a note to the community.” I was just shocked and in awe and inspired

By that and it meant a lot. For me, my story would be aligned to something that my friend Elan Kogutt reminded me of recently. One of our first events after that Fiddle on the Roof event was something called Dating, Dining, and Devotion. We had each of our faith leads

Talk about how their faith group relates to romance, food, dietary laws, prayer, and meditation. It was a great event and a packed audience. It was exciting to see how everyone was together. A couple days later, someone came over to me, he was a colleague—he was a project manager,

And he told me a story about how he was leading this team and it was a virtual team. He had one analyst who always went MIA on a Friday afternoon, he had no idea where he was, he

Would IM him, never got a response. All of a sudden, from coming to our event, he heard about the Jumu’ah prayer, and heard about that going on Friday, and had no clue that Muslims pray then. He approached his colleague and he talked about his own faith as an Orthodox

Jewish person and observing the sabbath. It came out that, he was saying that he was also an observant Muslim, and he felt uncomfortable talking about his faith in the workplace. This manager and employee now built this greater bond together where they have this new shared

Understanding with each other. They are able to bring that into this new workplace and have this understanding, this analyst and now they are able to go and have the strength to say, hey, I can talk about this. It’s not something that I need to keep to myself

And just go MIA because you’re scared about who you are. That to me, is one of the most important examples to be talking about, is because throughout everything, if we don’t empower each of you who are listening, to talk about these topics, then we are not going

To be able to have that kind of inclusive environment, people want to see people that look like them, that sound like them and that have similar interactions like them. Whether you are the same faith belief or not from someone else, just the ability for you to

Be able to talk about it, even if you are an atheist, to be able to talk about what you believe in, has been—has opened the eyes of so many different people. So, Paul, over to you for the Q&A.

>> PAUL: All right, we do have some really great questions. I don’t – we’ll – you can each take one or two of them. It started, one of the interesting things that’s coming up in a few questions is training. Like, how are you trained to be an interfaith leader?

Some of you may have trained in higher ed to do this, others of you may not have any training. I am curious because we have someone who is talking about, Matt mentioned, on Facebook, that he is working with college students to develop a set of skills that would help lead

An interfaith, this kind of interfaith effort. He’s curious, like, if you were looking for an employee who would be able to bring this to the workplace, what would be the skill set that they would need? Were each of you trained in this? Did you learn it on the job?

Did you self-teach? Maybe one or two of you could answer this question—anybody feel inspired to take this? >> FARAH: I will take a stab at it; I’ve had zero training. I don’t think training is necessary, I think an open heart is necessary. I think kindness is necessary, right? Like,

What skill set would you bring to a leader, or people that I envision taking over when I retire. It’s just somebody who is empathetic, who’s kind, who’s caring, when they see difference, they don’t just argue with it, they learn to respect it. How do you build

That? You build it through religious literacy training, I would just read up on different traditions, get to know people who are different from you, expand your circles. That’s kind of what I would advise in terms of skill sets. I think, build a kind, soft heart, but I’m

Sure maybe others have had actual training and you can chime in. >> DAN: It’s funny because I feel like if you look at some of the other employee resources groups, like there’s like, if there is a disability group or an LGBT group or an African-American

Group, the question generally isn’t like, oh, what training have you had? It’s a question from a faith perspective of like, other faith is so sensitive that we need to make sure that you have training because you can mess this up. I think to your point Farah, I think

One of the things I always share with people is you just got to try and do something. You sometimes could get so woven into I want to make sure every I is dotted and T is crossed,

But you just got to do something and figure out, how am I going to engage employees? You have to figure out for yourself, how am I as an individual? It’s that introspection that each of us need to have is, how are we going to look at ourselves and say, “you

Know what? These are my experiences and I didn’t think of myself as a leader and I didn’t think of myself as an industry expert, but I have my own expenses and I can bring those to the table.” For me, that was sort of the eye-opening piece for me is not realizing

That it was just a Jewish person who was coming to work, but I was a Jewish person who had experiences that I can now bring light to other people as well. I think that to me was the exciting part. >> PAUL: Becky or Mike, do you feel –

>> BECKY: Likewise, I’ve had no formal training in this space and it’s more of a learning by doing. Some of the best advice that I was given along the journey of starting are two things that hopefully can be key takeaways for our audience. The first is, seek first

To understand. Similar to what Farah was mentioning in terms of an open heart. As you approach these situations where you may be getting into difficult conversations with people whether it’s about faith or otherwise, that is the type of skill set or characteristic that you

Would be looking for as an interfaith leader. Somebody who seeks first to understand and doesn’t just come in with like, “well, this is my approach or my way.” The second thing is, to be a magnet and not a detractor. If your intent is to attract people and be a

Magnet, you are going to approach how you run interfaith very differently than maybe someone who is kind of a “my way or the highway” type of situation. I will say that for myself, I realize I haven’t mentioned that I am a Christian. Everyone else has made

Some reference to that but I’m also of the Christian faith, which is a faith that says that there is one truth, there is one path to heaven. I had some initial internal struggle on this, should do interfaith or separate ERGs, because I’m like, well, am I giving

A platform for the other faiths where people could choose to convert to that faith or something. As I really prayed about that internally, the Holy Spirit led me to a verse in the Bible that talks about that God gave us the right to choose, the free will concept. So, it’s

Not my place—so this is kind of a skill set that I would suggest interfaith leaders have or, if this is something they kind of struggle with is—it’s not my place in an employee resource group to be saying I’m trying to promote a specific faith. The employee

Resource groups are exactly about supporting employees in the workplace. That is something, whether you are in the context of a collegiate world, a scholarly academic world, or otherwise, these types of groups are really about supporting people within their context and not about

Trying to be a church, serve the function of a church, or a mosque or a synagogue. >> PAUL: This is going to be the last question—there was a question about the charter and how you

Rely on it. I would love for each of you to be able to provide us with your charter so that we can send that out if possible to the group tomorrow. The last question I want to end on is, in what way does your work intersect with a broader understanding of how religion

Functions in the workplace? What managers at your company should know in order to provide maximum respect and accommodation for religious people in the workplace. Are you intersecting with managers? What advice would you, if they were to turn to you, what kind of advice would

You suggest for the company as far as a broader sort of approach to supporting religious individuals in the workplace? >> FARAH: I can chime in here really quickly. One thing Faith Force has done, like we haven’t really gone out to create our own faith inclusive training for managers or anything like that,

But what we’ve really done is try plug in with existing training, existing leadership development things, inclusive events and initiatives that are being developed, making sure there is that element of faith identity that is part of it. If we are doing an inclusive promotion,

A trail or something, learning module, one of the examples put a woman in hijab or a put a man in a kippah. Just adding that element so people open their eyes to that type of situation, scenario as a leader that we put into. As a manager, you have people of different

Faith identities, how are you going to manage effectively that type of diversity? There is existing diversity training, there’s existing leadership, fitting in that narrative is something we really push towards, to have that engagement with our leadership. >> PAUL: Who else? >> MIKE: Can I add something as well? >> PAUL: Yes please.

>> MIKE: With Twitter, I feel like there are multiple ways where we tackle this but something I found to be really meaningful with me and my manager is that I’ve actually made my BRG work and involvement a part of my yearly goals as part of my rating. It’s something that,

Because that comes up in our one-on-one all the time and in general, our company does a fantastic job as well of cultivating a culture of allyship. When you are able then, kind of, hold your managers accountable to that and say like, hey, I need you to show up for

Me, I think that goes a long way. Once it becomes visible, it becomes contagious. Then other managers will start doing it. It just will spread through the company and really change things in how you operate as well. Yeah, OKR’s ratings are included in there as possible.

>> DAN: It’s true, most people don’t realize the work that they do sometimes as a passion, right, has so much impacted to their daily life. The people that they are managing are the people you can translate into so many different things. For us, one of the things

That we were lucky enough to have is, you know, we got a sponsorship to have an interfaith summit. We brought together 150 people for half a day training across all levels, from managing director to the analyst, together to be able to bring our own training. This

Is stuff that we really developed on our own. By empowering our employees at all levels to be able to figure out what is the structure of that day and how will we be able to think through that, we were able to build a curriculum ourselves that was able to be shared with

Employees to managers to managing directors and now is being taken to each of the different regions as well. We are trying to bring that same training during some of our connect days to be able to bring our employees to talk about these topics and to continue to bring that awareness together.

>> PAUL: Well, this has been an extremely inspiring hour that has passed very quickly for me. So, I want to again, thank all of our panelists for being so forthcoming and really bringing your whole selves to this conversation, which is actually indicative

Of the way that this work operates. It’s being true, being vulnerable, being authentic to who you are and letting that be a blessing. Each to one of us—each one to the others. So, I feel very blessed by each of you and for all of you who have been with us today,

We will be reaching out soon. Again, thank you again to all of you.

#Interfaith #Groups #Work

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