The Evangelical Alliance has joined with the Christian Institute and the Catholic Union to call on a parliamentary committee to make religious freedom in the workplace a central component in its inquiry into human rights at work.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights is currently considering the wide-ranging issue of human rights at work, and before the summer break took evidence from legal experts and workplace representatives on some of the key issues involved. 

The three organisations have now written to the committee asking that they take a more focused look at how religion and belief are handled in the workplace, and offered to provide further evidence of some of the challenges Christians presently face. Earlier in the year, all three organisations separately submitted written evidence to the inquiry, with the Evangelical Alliance drawing heavily on research it previously conducted for its Living for Jesus at Work resource.

This research found that more than half of those who raised a concern relating to their faith in their workplace either did not feel listened to or saw no change as a result. More than half of respondents also said that any coverage of religion or belief in workplace training did not fairly represent their faith or what they believe. Four out of ten of those who completed our survey said that they had at times felt the need to prioritise their job over their faith, and for a small minority this occurred on a daily basis. 

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More encouragingly, our research found that more than 80% of respondents had had an opportunity to share the good news of Jesus with those they worked with. 

There is an increasing recognition that workplaces should accommodate diversity within the workforce, and enable people to bring their whole selves to work’. Unfortunately, faith is sometimes left behind in this approach, with it being seen as potentially divisive. However, shutting it out is what actually divides the workforce, with those for whom their faith is a significant part of their life, being required or feeling it necessary, to leave what they believe at the door. 

...research found that more than half of those who raised a concern relating to their faith in their workplace either did not feel listened to or saw no change as a result.

Over the past year as we have talked at churches, conferences and festivals about Living for Jesus at Work a few key themes stood out:

People are open to hearing the good news of Jesus

From our Talking Jesus research we know that an increasing number of people want to hear more about Jesus, so while there are undoubted challenges and need for care in some workplace situations, there is also a need for confidence in the gospel and the transformation it brings.

Christians are concerned that what they believe might lead to problems

Both self-censorship and formal policies can create barriers for Christians in the workplace, sometimes it might be the requirement to participate in activities that conflict with what they believe, on other occasions it might be staying silent for fear of what might happen. Christian beliefs, especially around issues of identity and sexuality, are different to what others might believe, but if we want a strong and plural public square it is important that there is space for different beliefs.

Equality and diversity initiatives can be both a challenge and an opportunity

Christians have sometimes been weary of equality and diversity initiatives as they might be seen as promoting agendas that conflict with what they believe. However, we have also heard from many Christians who have found opportunities through these initiatives to develop Christian workplace groups, or talk about faith and belief in a wider work context.

We need Christians in leadership throughout society in diverse workplaces

One anecdote that has stayed with me, from the research study, was a senior partner in a law firm talking about how his involvement in a Christian group and championing it within the firm’s structures opened the door for more junior colleagues to be open about their faith. 

There is a vital role for Christians to take on leadership in workplaces, to be excellent at their jobs, to be ambassadors for Christ, but also to be role models for others in how they can integrate their faith with the work that they do. It’s why the Evangelical Alliance runs its Public Leadership programme – and you can find out more about it and the courses we are running in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland this coming academic year.

Public Leadership

Public Leadership

Supporting Christian public leaders in every walk of life – equipping you to seek transformation wherever God has placed you Find out more
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Living for Jesus at work

Living for Jesus at work

A resource to equip you to live out your faith in your workplace Find out more