“How do we ensure that religion is seen as a benefit to the workplace?” was the question posed by Professor Edwina Pio, Auckland University of Technology Director of Diversity recent seminar, ‘Religion and Business: Reaping the diversity dividend’. The seminar was well attended drawing around 70 participants from various business and education backgrounds.
Co-hosted by the AUT Diversity Office, New Zealand Work Research Institute’s Immigration and Inclusion Research Group and AUT’s Management department, the seminar’s expert panel featured three trustees from the Religious Diversity Centre, Professor Pio, Professor Doug Pratt (University of Auckland) and Professor Paul Morris (Victoria University). They were joined by Professor Bulbulia also from University of Auckland and Management Consultant Alan Wilcox.
Co-chair of the national Religious Diversity Centre, Jocelyn Armstrong spoke of the importance of talking about religion in workplaces and communities. Professor Edwina Pio shared the stories of Cadbury Chocolate and the Sanitarium Health Food Company founded by religious people. Professor Paul Morris noted that calls for religious freedom are calls for access to a free market. He advised the audience to take religion seriously, despite its complexities. Professor Douglas Pratt spoke about how understanding religions can lead to a diversified market. Alan Wilcox spoke of religious values overcoming problems in business and touched on the importance of the resurgence of Māori culture, which he suggested adds a spiritual dimension to business life in New Zealand. Professor Joseph Bulbulia discussed a research study which found that people who identify as religious are more accepting of other faiths.