Workplace Harmony Amid Geopolitical Strife
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Workplace Harmony Amid Geopolitical Strife

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Anmol Motwani By Anmol Motwani | Journalist & Industry Analyst - Thu, 10/19/2023 - 17:31

Workplaces have grown more diverse following the corporate embrace of DEI, incorporating individuals from a multitude of cultures, sexual identities and religious affiliations, among others. This diversity, while beneficial, can give rise to conflicts, particularly during periods of external turmoil, resulting in not only decreased productivity but also the development of a hostile atmosphere. Consequently, it is imperative for HR professionals to implement essential measures that establish clear workplace expectations to mitigate the rise of workplace conflicts that can affect business.

Religious discrimination in the workplace can manifest in various ways, such as unjust treatment, offensive comments or harassment, as reported by HRDrive. These behaviors not only cause emotional distress for the targeted employees but also lead to decreased productivity, higher turnover rates and a toxic work atmosphere. This stark reality was underscored by a Rice University study, "Faith at Work: An Empirical Study", which revealed religious discrimination had a direct, negative impact on employee commitment and engagement. Religious discrimination in the workplace is a pertinent topic for companies in Mexico, particularly in Mexico City, which hosts several large religious communities alongside the predominant national religion of Roman Catholicism. 

According to a 2022 International Religious Freedom report, Mexico's Jewish community consists of approximately 58,800 individuals, with 67% residing in Mexico City and the state of Mexico. Likewise, data from the Ministry of the Interior (SEGOB) sheds light on the presence of roughly 7,982 members within Mexico's Muslim community, with almost half concentrated in Mexico City and the state of Mexico. Notably, Chiapas boasts a significant population of Ahmadi Muslims, primarily consisting of ethnic Tzotzil Maya converts. Additionally, Mexico embraces followers of Afro-descendant Orisha beliefs, with their roots tracing back to the African Yoruba religion, known locally as 'Santería' in Spanish.

In light of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, Jonathan Segal, Partner at Duane Morris, emphasizes the importance of proactive preparedness for potential instances of harassment or derogatory incidents. These incidents may target individuals, “based on their Israeli or Jewish identity, as well as Muslims, and individuals of diverse ethnicities and nationalities in the near future. In response, [he advises managers] should promptly address these incidents, reaching out to [affected] individuals within the organization to initiate corrective actions.” 

HR professionals can proactively address these challenges by educating employees on workplace free speech boundaries and refining policies related to protests. This includes areas such as conduct, civility, harassment and social media use. Additionally, they should bolster employee assistance programs (EAP) to offer vital support during protest-induced stress, extending these resources to employees and their families. Furthermore, it is crucial to prioritize managerial training, focusing on aspects such as defining conduct expectations, de-escalation methods, empathy development and understanding off-duty conduct laws.

"This conflict continues to have a profound impact on communities and workplaces globally. [Therefore, w]e urge business leaders, particularly our international Human Resources professionals, to prioritize leadership marked by civility, compassion and empathy," said Johnny C. Taylor, President & CEO, SHRM.


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