Why Fortune 500 Companies and Startups Need to Focus on Interfaith Dialogue
Updated: Sep 28, 2019
Author: Salma Kamni
With Generation Z quickly moving into the workforce, their values of diversity extend beyond what mainstream companies focus on.
Generation Z is already making moves.
To the workforce, I mean.
Controlling billions of dollars of industry and making up 32% of the population, the oldest of Generation Z has now officially begun entering the workforce. Thus, recruiters have been scrambling to figure out what GenZ really wants. Is it open workspaces or closed workspaces? How about foosball tables? Standing desks? No company is one hundred percent sure.
There is, however, one thing that all companies know: GenZ moves fast.
Whether it's our humor culture that sifts through dozens of meme-formats per month to our next foodie interests (no longer Avocado toast, sorry!), GenZ is known for our movement. We are always creating, bonding, and building.
GenZ is known for our movement. We are always creating, bonding, and building.
It’s definitely not easy for older generations to figure out what GenZ wants. Imagine figuring it out from an employer's perspective when salaries, benefits, company culture, and other aspects come into play.
In fact, because of the seemingly unpredictable movement that GenZ fosters, marketing agencies like Juv (founded by GenZers!) specifically focus on helping clients engage with the younger generation.
Companies like Facebook, Google, and rising startups have been clambering to pinpoint how to appeal to GenZ. Juv and others have done so quite successfully, figuring out that GenZ cares about social impact, entrepreneurship, innovation, and also--free food.
Despite all of the work to figure out what GenZ values and figuring out how to recruit them, one topic is often left out of the conversation:
GenZ is the most ethnically and racially diverse generation yet, and with that comes different cultures, beliefs, and traditions that Fortune 500 companies and startups have yet to address. Fewer GenZers are identifying as Christian, and as a result, religious diversity in the workforce will lose its current Christian-homogeneity.
Generation Z is known for their “distrust and disruption”--they’re always questioning the status quo, generating their own solutions, and most importantly, they constantly know what’s going on thanks to social media.
This curiosity translates into how they view their prospective employers. For instance, In early 2019, Facebook failed to dismantle a livestream of dozens of Muslims being killed in a Mosque. Events like these have proven to ignite the vileness of other terrorists with Islamophobic and anti-Semitic sentiments.
If you haven’t realized yet through the dozens of Twitter outrages, GenZ is notorious for it’s “cancellation culture” (a cultural or financial boycott of someone or something that’s caused some sort of controversy). Fitness company Equinox was “canceled” for funding President Donald Trump, and LaCroix--a popular beverage among the younger generation--was also canceled for allegedly not using “all-natural” ingredients. GenZ is one of the most connected and aware generations, and Fortune 500s that are slow on the move socially definitely don’t look great to GenZ--considering our diversity and interest in generating a positive social impact.
Fortune 500s that are slow on the move socially definitely don’t look great to GenZ--considering their diversity and interest in generating a positive social impact.
Delving into the actual culture of a company is also essential.
The presence of interfaith dialogue, despite being a less popular topic, is essential to creating bonds with coworkers and also strengthening the company itself.
If a Muslim employee has to stick themselves behind a staircase to fulfill one of their daily prayers, that’s a problem. The absence of a multi-religious space for practicing Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Christians, etc. can completely inhibit the comfort and effectiveness of employees.
An office space designated for this purpose can have a large positive effect on the perceived company culture. How many offices in your city have a prayer space designated to religiously practicing people?
The answer to that is proof of the potential gains that Fortune 500s and startups can gain by simply engaging with their employees and the new generation.
GenZers, even those who are atheist and agnostic, value a more inclusive and intersectional work environment. Seeing a company put effort into making religious minorities feel more comfortable in a work environment ultimately reflects well among other social aspects of the company.
Despite the fact that interfaith dialogue is often left out of the discussion, we must recognize that GenZ does not only care about racial and ethnic diversity. GenZ is taking on a million things at a time: world politics, sexual and gender identities, social constructs, religion, and everything else. The lack of religious awareness in companies is sure to be off-putting to much of the upcoming workforce. Therefore, we need to begin the dialogue now.
Salma Kamni is the founder of Converge (convergeinterfaith.org), an online platform that promotes interfaith discussion through podcasts, videos, columns, and other types of media. She plans to pursue degrees in both Computer Science and Political Science.