Dealing with religious variety at the workplace


Practical examples from enterprises and administrations

- Factsheet on the research project -

  • All in all, 15 different approaches were identified which were included in the expert opinion as examples of good practice.
  • The research did not show any signs indicating that a large variety of best practice measures had been applied. On the contrary, many employers obviously did not know how to deal with religious diversity and their relevant in-house requirements.
  • Most of those measures were from the field of corporate culture, for example codes of conduct, and from the area of work organisation. The latter refers to arrangements facilitating the practice of religion within company premises, for example a large variety of meals offered in canteens, prayer rooms, etc. Measures relating to other fields of work (e.g. codes of conduct or works agreements) are mostly incorporated in a more comprehensive diversity strategy.
  • In hardly any of the enterprises surveyed religion is one of the priority topics in diversity management.
  • Frequently, measures are an answer to a specific problem for which a solution geared to the needs of the company and the particular situation had to be found.
  • Existing measures sensitive to religion refer particularly to the group of Muslims.
  • Works councils or trade unions as well as religious associations still hardly deal with this subject yet.

Specific features of individual sectors of industry

In private enterprises ethnic diversity is often the starting point of individual measures. Consequently, the appreciation of religious diversity is part of the diversity management of companies, especially at the large-scale enterprises and this aspect frequently coincides with the issue of ethnic origin or also with gender. However, it is difficult to find good practices at small and medium-sized enterprises.

Federal administrative authorities emphasize their neutral stance towards religious affiliations. In this context, the acceptance of religious diversity is implicitly supported by, e.g. depersonalised application procedures or training campaigns for joining the public service.

In the context of church employers, it is particularly a lack of skilled staff as well as the necessity of a better intercultural cohesion in the social service sector that is decisive for an attitude which takes religious diversity into account. In this sector, it has to be stated that religious diversity is dealt with in a very defensive manner.