Last month, six student panelists came together to discuss their different religions. The World Religions Forum, organized by Catholics at Booth and Latter-Day Saints Student Association, featured a panel of Booth students representing several world religions including Islam, Protestant Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Catholicism, and Mormonism.
As future leaders in the workplace, it’s crucial that we learn how to create environments where people feel like they can bring their whole selves — including their religion. The World Religions Forum aimed to help us all become better co-workers and friends by understanding the important role that faith plays in the lives of our current and future colleagues. We asked participants about their takeaways from the event.
What is the purpose of the religions forum? Why is it important to you?
Dustin: In my mind, the purpose of the forum was to encourage a dialogue around faith among the Booth community and to equip students to be mindful of others with religious convictions.
Nakul: The World Religions Forum helps us all understand as a group the important role that faith plays in the lives of those around us — whether they are our friends at Booth or future co-workers. This is important to start leading with compassion at the workplace and developing a broader, inclusive mindset. It is important to me even more so as through our startup at MyMBACircle we endeavor to create a mentor network that is very diverse in nationality, industry, background, etc. and it is crucial to have an understanding of the role that religion plays.
Simon: The purpose of World Religions Forum was to talk about the experience of being a religious person in secular environments, including at work and at school. It was great to talk about an important aspect of my life that is relatively hidden from others.
Lily: To share a perspective from the various religions represented at Booth and to share how our religious practice influences our everyday life. I find religious practice across faiths to be an interesting topic of discussion because of the role it can play in people’s lives, but it takes some vulnerability and openness to start the discussion. Religion, religious identity, and religious practice can be very difficult topics to discuss, so this creates an opportunity for a dialogue and a way for classmates to explore some of the questions they may have but are unwilling to ask.
What did you hope audience members to gain?
Dustin: A broadened perspective on the worldviews of different religions beliefs.
Haroun: For me, I hoped that members of the audience learned how to be better allies to the Muslim community and other faith-based communities. Throughout our careers, we’ll work alongside individuals of different faiths and it’s important that we, when in positions of power, make space for others.
Jess: I hope people in the audience started to understand the amount of religious inequality exists in the workplace that they probably did not even realize was there. And I hope more than anything, that this realization inspired people to educate themselves so that they can make their workplaces more religiously inclusive.
Nakul: I hoped the audience will appreciate the nuances of each religion, walk away smarter about tackling some common misconceptions (why does Hinduism have 33M gods? Do all people worship cows/idols?), and connect with each other and the panelists at a deeper level.
Simon: I hope the audience got a candid look at students with strongly held beliefs that may differ from their own.
Lily: I hope they learned something about each religion and how it influences the life of people who practice. I also hope they feel comfortable asking more questions if they want to learn more.
What did you walk away with?
Jess: It was nice to see that I wasn’t the only person who felt that there were such religious inequalities in the workplace. Even amongst religious minorities, this is a taboo topic that is not often spoken of.
Dustin: I was encouraged that there were so many other Boothies who cared about learning more about my faith and the faith of others.
Nakul: I enjoyed the Panel as I got a chance to learn more about the faith that my fellow classmates follow and importance of fostering an environment where people can bring their whole selves. However, there are important dilemmas of bringing your whole self vs promoting religion at the workplace, and deeper conversations about striking a balance are very helpful!
Simon: It was interesting seeing my colleagues talk about religion. I think for all of us sometimes we forget that some our MBA friends are religious because we’re so intensely engaged in business school.
Lily: There were some thoughts particularly around practicing non-Christian faiths and how to be a better ally in the workplace that were incredibly thought provoking. I came away thinking about how I can better be an ally and an advocate.