Inter Faith Week takes place each November. It has been a feature of the national calendar in the UK since 2009.
What is the purpose of Inter Faith Week?
Inter Faith Week aims are to:
- Strengthen good inter faith relations at all levels;
- Increase awareness of the different and distinct faith communities in the UK, in particular celebrating and building on the contribution which their members make to their neighbourhoods and to the wider society; and
- Increase the sense of understanding between people of religious and non-religious beliefs.
It is a fantastic platform for highlighting the importance of faith and belief and encouraging and strengthening initiatives promoting good inter faith relations in the workplace. Over the years, the week has grown continually in popularity, and an increasing number of employers and staff networks are taking part.
What can you do?
The Inter Faith Network, which leads on Inter Faith Week, has seen a growing interest in faith and belief in the workplace. Here are a few tips for employers and employees based on our work in this area.
Consider how your workplace responds to faith and belief issues
- What faith and inter faith networks are operating in your company or workplace? Would it be helpful to introduce new networks?
- How are you encouraging religion and belief literacy in the workplace?
- Is your corporate climate one that is faith and belief friendly, where people feel comfortable bringing that aspect of their identity to work?
- How are you responding to workplace provision needs (such as proper catering options, prayer or mediation spaces, and pastoral or spiritual support)?
- Are you recruiting in a way that encourages diversity in the applicant base?
- How strong is the religion and belief dimension of your equalities policy and implementation?
- How could your company and workplace benefit from its diverse workforce, including those of different faiths and beliefs?
Encourage and enable people to bring the faith and belief dimension of their lives to work
People work best when they feel that they can bring their whole selves to the workplace. Where people feel that they are welcomed and that inclusion of faith or belief is clear, it can have a positive impact on a person’s wellbeing and approach to work and colleagues.
Create or encourage staff networks to develop inter faith understandings and good relations within the workforce
Faith and belief are not always fully understood. Developing networks can help increase religious literacy and foster stronger relationships and good relations in the workplace.
You could encourage single, faith-based staff networks (such as Hindu, Muslim, or Christian networks), or support the establishment of a multifaith staff network. Remember to allow people to self-define and to explain faith or non-religious belief from their own perspective. People practise their faith in a range of ways.
Hold special events to increase understanding and build good inter faith relations
- Run a webinar for (or with) your offices around the country on religion and belief issues and discuss the importance of good relations;
- Use a platform (like Coffee Roulette) or a programme (like the Inter Faith Network’s Inter Faith Buddies) to encourage direct conversations;
- Enable or support particular dialogues, such as one between Muslim and Jewish networks, on issues of common interest;
- Set up occasional online talks about particular topics (such as faith festivals and other traditions); or
- Hold a discussion about the ways in which religious literacy and dialogue might strengthen and contribute to the realisation of your corporate values.
And don’t forget to schedule events in a faith aware way. Check out a multifaith calendar (such as the Shap calendar) to ensure that events don’t clash with particular festivals and talk with your staff of different faiths about questions of timing.
This blog post was written by Dr David Hampshire, assistant director for the Inter Faith Network for the UK. It was originally posted on 16 November 2021 and revised in March 2022.
Additional enei resources
- Blog: Can LGBT+ rights and religious belief rights coexist in the workplace? by Sandi Wassmer, 24 February 2022
- Case Study: SCRA – Spotlight on Employee Monitoring
- Employer Guide: Employee Resource Groups
- Employer Guide: Faith Networks
- Employer Guide: Religion or Belief and Employment
- Infographic: Religion and Belief
- Quick Guide: Religion and Belief
- Coffee Roulette
- Inter Faith Network, Inter Faith Buddies
- Inter Faith Week
- Inter Faith Week, Inter Faith Week 2020: Connection, Learning, and Cooperation at the Time of COVID, 15 September 2021
- The Shap Calendar Group, Calendar of Religious Festivals