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The horrific Mideast War is also a DEI safety challenge for companies. Some are taking “The Pledge to Listen”

“Mideast War pushes employers to extend diversity programs to faith groups.

Workers are asking employers to respond to rising Islamophobia and antisemitism. But office discussions about religion are difficult.”

That’s the alarming headline and sub-head on a new digital edition New York Times major business-section featured report.

The horrific Gaza war is, of course, causing vast humanitarian injury and global divisiveness. Only one example: American colleges and universities have been the locus of hundreds of “freedom of speech” protests and demonstrations, some of them threatening, only few of them constructive.

But now,  this toxic global social wave has reached the workplace. The Times article’s assessment of developments since the start of the Israel-Hamas war:

“Executives are facing mounting calls from their workers to talk about faith in diversity programs. They’re scrambling to ensure the safety of their Jewish and Muslin employees.”

Supportive new research by The Grossman Group – Harris Poll concludes that, “…just 1-in-5 employees reported that their employer shared an official internal statement on the issues in the Middle East and only about 1-in-6 employees reported that their manager directly communicated with them.” [Emphasis in the original]

Major nonprofit organizations long active in combatting discrimination and societal division are trying reduce the impact of this dangerous workplace turmoil , according to the Times:

“The Anti-Defamation League’s “Workplace Pledge to Fight Antisemitism” … has more than 200 signatories newly (subscribed)… It asks companies to address antisemitism in their #D.E.I. programming, speak out against hate on social media, provide religious accommodations and support Jewish employees…

“The Council on American-Islamic Relations [publisher of ‘Work, H.R. and Palestine’],  has fielded over 2,000 reports of anti-Muslim hate, including in workplaces, since early October. The swell of Islamophopic incidents has reminded some … of what Muslims experienced at work after Sept.11 attacks …”

Obviously, progress in addressing this centuries-old ideological conflict will not come quickly or easily. However, everyone – anywhere – concerned with such roiling conflicts – should at root consider adopting the “Pledge to Listen” promoted by the nonprofit organization Millions of Conversations (“Restoring the Prominence of a Peaceful Public Square”),  now gaining adherents in companies :

“I pledge to listen to others who hold different opinions, views, or beliefs. I will try to understand their reasons and their perspectives and will respectfully express my own in return.”

It’s a personal as well as a company commitment. That’s s a start.