Religion and the Workplace

Religion in the Workplace CoverHow can company leaders and employees negotiate their different religious and spiritual commitments in the workplace? This analysis proposes constructive solutions based on a concept of respectful pluralism which allows for the expression of individual beliefs and practices. At a time of international debate over religious conflict and tolerance, workforces in various parts of the world are more diverse than ever before. Religion and spirituality are often strongly linked to employees’ identities. From the perspective of the employer, however, they can be distracting or divisive influences.


America’s increasing religious diversity has challenged and changed our society in many ways, especially in the workplace where we meet and interact on a daily basis. In this important book, Douglas Hicks analyzes workplace issues from attire, office holiday policies, to discussions around the water cooler. He captures the challenges that religion and spirituality present in the world of the workplace. Above all, Hicks provides an invaluable moral framework in which office managers and co-workers can acknowledge conflict and create genuine, respectful pluralism. This book is a must-read for understanding religion in the rapidly changing workplace.

Diana L. Eck, Director, The Pluralism Project, Harvard University


A seminal analysis of one of the most important and original topics of our time, spirituality in the workplace.

Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Management, University of Southern California, and co-author of Geeks and Geezers: How Era, Values and Defining Moments Shape Leaders


A landmark study in its chosen field – religion in the workplace – but Hicks’ practical proposals for ‘respectful pluralism’ have a much wider relevance. In the context of increasing religious diversity the book represents an important contribution to enhancing religious literacy and a most useful set of recommendations around the term ‘respectful pluralism’. I can envisage a range of professionals finding it of great practical and theoretical use: health professionals, teachers, local government officers, city councillors, as well as those with responsibility for equal opportunities.

Philip Lewis, Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford


… intelligent book … its prescriptions are well worth reading …



This is a masterly thesis, compellingly and logically argued. The reader is led forward, ineluctably, from one chapter to the next, and the writer creates an eagerness for the reader to reach the end. The supreme value of the book outside the US is bringing to attention issues which could be covert, concealed and neglected, as they often are in the US.

—Reviews in Religion and Theology


This is an admirable contribution to scholarship, one that will prove invaluable for those working in the fields of religious studies, theology, ethics, business and leadership. … a careful, impressive, well-defended, cogent but modest argument … This work fills more than one gap in the literature. … Leaders who take this book seriously will be greatly assisted in managing to address the needs of the business effectively … Students of (any) religion will find here an examination in depth of how religion is manifested in an arena of life that is too often neglected in their curriculum.

The Heythrop Journal


Religion and the Workplace…looks at how employers can move away from seeing religion as divisive. The book offers ‘respectful pluralism’ as a guide for employers handling religious diversity and conflict.



…Hicks’ book is an important and excellent contribution to a still underdeveloped public debate on religious diversity in the workplace.

Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal, Achim Seifert


The author gives a thoughtful review of how leadership can cope with diverse expressions of people’s religions as inevitably found in work environments. Rather than seeing such diversity as divisive, or flattened out by a superficial ’spirituality,’ Hicks encourages appreciation of what it means if a Muslim woman wears a hijab, or a Sikh requires a turban, an evangelical wants to put a ‘Jesus Saves’ sign inside his locker, or an Adventists needs Saturdays off. The author believes a respectful pluralism is the best means of management, one carefully cultivated to allow individual appreciation without signs of coercion or disrespect.

Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics, Armand E. Larive


…an effective tool to discuss moral, political, religious, and spiritual issues in a diverse workplace.

Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, Benjamin J. Wiles, Emory University


Hicks uses his impressive academic skills to lay out a set of ideas in short order and offer a practical framework for honoring religious diversity in the workplace. He appreciates the distinctiveness of different religions and how they’re practiced, and considers how they can be accommodated in the workplace to everyone’s advantage. His critique of the spirituality in the workplace movement is an important contribution; an overly generalized concept of spirituality can actually discourage individual religious freedom. This book offers constructive analysis of an emerging area of increasing religious expression. More and more, the workplace is an important place for the American negotiation of the practice of the freedom of religion.

J. Grove Harris, Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions


This is an exceptional book. Hicks has found a way to take a sophisticated set of ideas and communicate them in a clear and straightfoward way to a broad audience.

Ronald Thiemann, Harvard University