A month after Rishi Sunak became the UK’s first Hindu prime minister, new research has found that Hindus face an inclusion deficit and a lack of awareness of their religion in the workplace.
Among the findings of business psychology consultancy Pearn Kandola, more than a third of Hindus (38%) have had their request for annual leave to celebrate a religious holiday rejected for no good reason and only 5% believe that their organization is happy that they take time off for religious holidays.
Pearn Kandola said the report, Religion at Work: Experiences of Hindu Employees, demonstrated why we should not “allow diversity at the top to distract us from a lack of inclusion and representation overall”. The study is the first in a series of reports looking at religious expression in the workplace, with upcoming research looking at Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Sikhism and Buddhism.
Researchers found that limited representation often left Hindu employees feeling lonely and isolated at work, with a lack of diversity leaving many Hindu employees feeling they could not freely express their religious identity.
Restrictive policies and insufficient awareness of Hindu beliefs and practices have exacerbated the situation. Several participants, for example, said they were required to dress “professionally” or “non-offensively” at work, with many interpreting this to mean that they should avoid wearing cultural or religious clothing.
While Rishi Sunak’s appointment was a significant development for inclusiveness in the UK, the study said, it was crucial to note the different forms of privilege that helped pave the way for his success.
Binna Kandola, co-founder of Pearn Kandola, said: “There is no doubt that the UK having its first Hindu Prime Minister is a truly historic moment – Rishi Sunak has repeatedly stated how important his faith is to him. . However, we should be aware of the results of this research. Many Hindus do not feel able to express their faith openly. This is significant and demonstrates that organizations still have some way to go to create truly inclusive cultures.
While some people have chosen not to express their religious beliefs at work due to personal preference, there is another group that would love to do so but fear the consequences. Qualitative research found that this decision was often based on witnessing how others were treated.
“Many Hindus in the UK feel they cannot be themselves at work, which prevents them from reaching their full potential,” Kandola said. “Organizations must tackle the problem head-on by creating cultures that welcome religious diversity and encourage employees to freely express their religious identity.”
Kandola argued that organizations across the UK need to take action to raise awareness and create inclusive cultures. He added that implementing training and awareness initiatives were cited by Hindu employees as key steps.
“Successful long-term change depends on creating inclusive cultures, where valuing differences and supporting each other is the norm. Leaders and employees need to make a constant effort to make sure everyone feels safe to be authentic themselves,” Kandola said.
Latest HR jobs on Personnel Today
Browse more human resources jobs