How Intel and Other Companies Celebrate Religion in the Workplace


Intel has been a star in the tech world for almost half a century. One of the secrets to its success is a little more witty than you might expect, according to CEO Pat Gelsinger.

In a recorded message that will be read for an international conference on business and religion this week, Gelsinger highlights the competitive advantage that comes from building a culture that celebrates personal faith alongside other employee characteristics. At Intel, employees are free to “bring their entire body” to the office, he says.

“When we take into account the nuanced differences of each, we empower our organizations to capture truly sustainable business benefits,” says Gelsinger.

Intel has partly placed itself in this position by allowing employees to form religion-based resource groups, says Sandra Rivera, the organization’s former director of human resources and current executive vice president, in the same video. Currently, Intel has seven such groups, including one for atheists and agnostics, she said.

The company champions “the importance of faith and belief to our employees,” says Rivera.

In doing so, Intel is improving the lives of more than just its employees, says Brian Grim, founder and chairman of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, which hosted the conference. He says leaders like Rivera and Gelsinger are paving the way for a more peaceful world.

“Businesses that embrace religious freedom can change entire cultures,” in addition to influencing faith-related laws, he says.

The goal of the Grim Foundation is to get more companies to recognize and even celebrate the religious identity of their employees. One way they work to achieve this is by presenting awards to business leaders who model the right approach to faith.

“Businesses can have a huge impact on people’s lives,” Grim says.

This year, Intel’s Gelsinger and Rivera will receive one of three gold medals presented at the Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards, organized by the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation in cooperation with the Business for Peace Initiative of the Global Compact of United Nations.

Other gold medalists include Dr Judith Richter, who runs Medinol, an Israeli heart stent company, and founded the NIR School of the Heart to help high school students pursue careers in medicine and heal interfaith divisions, and King Husein, CEO of Span Construction & Engineering who helped lead a CEO roundtable on international religious freedom at the 2019 United Nations General Assembly in New York.

The awards are valuable because they help people understand that there are many ways for business leaders to create an environment conducive to faith and to stand up for religious freedom, Grim says. No two laureates approach religious diversity the same way.

At Intel, Gelsinger, Rivera, and other business leaders rely the most on the employee resource groups Rivera mentioned in the video. Through these groups, workers forge bonds that help them overcome challenges both inside and outside the workplace, Grim says, noting that he heard from a Christian employee. Intel connecting with the Muslim Resource Group to prepare for an employment-related move to a Muslim-dominated country.

At Tyson Foods, on the other hand, President John Tyson, who is one of this year’s silver medalists, honors the religious identity of his employees by having two full-time chaplains on his staff, Grim says.

Chaplains “are responding to a need that sometimes cannot be met outside of the office, especially during COVID-19 closures,” he says.

Regardless of what form they take, religious resources for employees can help companies recruit and retain quality workers, Grim says.

“It’s good for business. That is ultimately why companies are embracing this, ”he says.

It’s also good for society, says Husein, who is known for his advocacy work. He believes that the activism for religious freedom that originates in the workplace has a more powerful impact than government-led efforts.

“I think if companies can understand this (religious freedom is good for business) and embrace it and promote it in their own countries, then we don’t need the government to get involved,” Husein said. .

The Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards event will take place virtually on Tuesday, August 24 at noon EST. Participants will have the opportunity to interact with the winners.

To learn more about the event or to register to attend the awards ceremony, see the Dare to Overcome Conference Website. It costs $ 20 to register, but you can apply for a scholarship by emailing [email protected], Grim said.


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