Asian Religions Course At Miami University is seeking HR & DEI Professionals to partner with a class this fall.

Elizabeth “Liz” Wilson is a professor of Asian religions at Miami University will be teaching an Honors seminar this fall on how three Asian religions (Sikhism, Hinduism, and Islam) can best be accommodated in American hospitals, K-12 schools, and corporate workplaces. This fall semester, her students will be learning about barriers to and benefits of accommodating Sikh, Hindu, and Muslim religious practices in medical, educational, and corporate workplaces. To illuminate the processes of accommodating these religions in the workplace, she would like to arrange class visits with compliance professionals in HR and DEI departments. In addition to class visits, students will also conduct interviews with compliance professionals to better understand the challenges and rewards of accommodating Sikh, Hindu, and Muslim religious practices. Students will select one of three religions and research issues surrounding accommodation. In their final project, students will offer a set of recommendations for best practices that showcase how some workplaces have made Sikh, Hindu, and Muslim employees comfortable bringing their whole selves to work.

She is seeking volunteers to join them via Zoom during class time (they meet Wednesdays and Fridays from 1:15-2:30 EST) as well as folks who’d be willing to be interviewed by students.

Please reach out directly to Liz if you are interested in helping her and her students.

wilsone@miamioh.edu

Some questions that will drive the research:

·      What issues have arisen around month-long Ramadan fasting? How have employees who wish to go without hydration and food from dawn to dusk been accommodated?

·      Are there examples of accommodations that initially seemed to pose undue hardship but solutions were found in the end?

·      What are some typical barriers that prevent employees from coming forward with requests regarding religion dress and grooming practices?

·      ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) are great. But what if there is only one ERG at a workplace and that ERG is dominated Christians or Jews? What can be done to facilitate religious pluralism in spaces that are religiously monolithic?

·      How would you respond to this critique of ERGs? “It’s not enough just to have someone who looks/acts like you at the peer level when workplace cultures are often dictated by management.” Is this a legitimate critique and if so, what can be done to overcome this problem?

·      What accommodation strategies work best for holidays that do not occur on fixed dates? For example, the Hindu holiday known in English as the “Great Night of Shiva” occurs in either February or March.

·      What resources on religion are the most useful? How often does a Google search suffice?

·      What strategies might be used to ensure robust responses to accommodation requests from employees who adhere to small and not commonly understood sects within Hinduism, Islam, or Sikhism? For example, the employee is a Shia Muslim who observes two major holidays that Sunni Muslims do not observe. Let’s say that the HR team uses Google to look up Muslim holidays and sees nothing about the Shia holidays in question. What has been useful in ensuring that religious practices that are not commonly followed are made legible to staff and accommodation requests to observe such practices are given due consideration?

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