Faith-Based Employee Resource Groups on the Rise

via Bill Peel
February 17th, 2020

Something exciting is afoot in corporate America.

An AP news release recently announced that, “More US firms are Boosting Faith-Based Support for Employees.” 

“Corporate America is at a tipping point toward giving religion similar attention to that given to other major diversity categories,” says Brian Grim, Founder and President of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, in an article in The New York Times.

A few companies have long-established faith-in-the-workplace initiatives. These long-termers include Tyson Foods, Texas Instruments, and American Airlines. That number is increasing today--20% of the Fortune 100 companies have established faith-oriented Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) as part of their workplace diversity initiatives. And the number of companies embracing faith-based ERGs is growing.

A Top 10 Rank of companies that have embraced faith-at-work includes some of America's best-known companies as recipients: Google's parent company Alphabet. Intel, Tyson Foods, Target, Facebook, American Airlines, Apple, Dell, American Express, and Goldman Sachs. Other companies with faith-based ERGs include Medtronic, Salesforce, Intel, Dell, Accenture, PayPal, Zurich America, and many others. Watch a news report about the conference. Watch and listen to the conference.

An ERG is a sanctioned internal group within a company. Faith-oriented ERGs meet in both interfaith, and in faith-specific settings to discuss topics like the relation of personal faith to company culture, holiday observances, and religious accommodations. Christian ERGs also offer on-site prayer, Bible study, worship, mentorship, discipleship, and service projects. They provide places where people can find community and encouragement to live out their faith in their daily work. They also offer the opportunity to engage in healthy discussions between people of different faiths--discussions that foster understanding and trust among or colleagues.I

In 2016, we asked Kent Johnson, then Senior Counsel at Texas Instruments, to speak at the global Faith@Work Summit in Dallas, on the opportunity for the spread of the gospel in corporate America. You can watch Kent's video here. Today, Kent serves alongside others in the forefront of this expanding movement as Senior Corporate Advisor with the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation.

The misperception that religion is a dangerous topic for workplace conversation is slowly losing ground among HR professionals. Many are coming to realize the benefits of encouraging employees to bring their faith to work. According to Johnson,

The increasingly common call for a more "inclusive" work environment is aimed at making people feel that they are valued as human beings--for who they really are. It’s an appeal for personal transparency and authenticity, intended to spur creativity, teamwork and commitment to ethical behaviors.  Including people’s core faith identity is the next step for "inclusivity" in the workplace.

For the last several years, a group of Christian ERG leaders has gathered for a monthly conference call for encouragement and prayer for each other, to exchange of best practices, and to provide counsel to others wanting to launch similar ERGs in their workplaces. This group, shepherded by Eric Welch of the Christian Employers’ Alliance, now involves leaders from 28 companies -- and it’s growing.

If you'd like more information about how to start a Christian ERG in your company, we would be glad to connect you with experienced people who can help you navigate the process with your HR Department.