We live in a truly diverse and multi-cultural country, and therefore there will be lots of different religions all coming into contact in places such as schools and workplaces. We must promote a culture of mutual respect between religions despite opposing views, ideologies, and beliefs.

It can be fantastic to work with people from all religions, as it is an opportunity to learn about another culture and belief system outside of your own. Furthermore, it can be beneficial to your work, as different perspectives contribute to your job, and your team represents a wide range of customers.

What is mutual respect?

The phrase mutual respect refers to a recognition of everyone’s value, despite all of our differences. It encompasses the unique contributions different people can bring to a situation and the need for these additional contributions to create a better outcome.

In terms of religion, mutual respect refers to living comfortably and contently among all faiths and recognising each religion’s value for different people. And in the workplace, this means giving everybody space and time to express their religious identity, respecting people’s spiritual practices such as prayer in the middle of the day, and not assuming that everybody follows the same belief system and calendar.

Fostering a culture of mutual respect is both the responsibility of all staff members and your employer and manager. At Aspiring to Include, we regularly write about creating a compelling company culture from the top down. This means that the managers and bosses of companies must display the behaviour they want to see in their staff. As well as making decisions, such as creating policies, which actively encourage the kind of culture they want to see.

For example, this might mean bosses begin flexible about religious holidays to allow staff to take time off when they need it. A workplace that recognises each employee’s needs and values perpetuates mutual respect among the staff.

Having said all of this, creating mutual religious respect is the joint responsibility of employers and employees. Here are some ways you can foster mutual respect as a member of staff in a workplace:

How to foster mutual respect?

Education and discussion

If you are happy to do so, don’t shy away from talking about your religion and sharing details about your culture with others. Much of the religious prejudice people experience is a result of ignorance and a lack of understanding. Furthermore, the more you share, the more others will share with you.

Recognise that you don’t have to agree with everything another person believes

It is essential not to conflate mutual respect with needing to agree with everything another person believes. Part of mutual respect in the workplace is recognising that not everybody has to believe the same thing, but you can still work alongside each other harmoniously.

Try to be sensitive to other religious practices

Remember that not everybody follows the same calendar, diet and dress code because of their religion. This might mean that somebody at your work does something in a different way to you. Take an interest in other people’s practices, and respect other people’s decisions without questioning the reasons behind these choices.

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