For 41% of UK Jews, faith is an issue in the workplace

According to survey by UK chief rabbi’s Shabbat initiative.

By
November 4, 2016 02:22
2 minute read.
JEWISH MEN share a conversation in Golders Green, London, in January 2015.

JEWISH MEN share a conversation in Golders Green, London, in January 2015.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Four out of 10 British Jews feel that their faith has been an issue in the workplace at some point in their careers, according to results of a survey released by an initiative of Britain’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis on Thursday.

The survey was conducted by the rabbi’s ShabbatUK initiative, which seeks to promote active engagement with Shabbat throughout the Jewish community.

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Seventy-two percent of those who took part in the survey said they openly discussed their faith in the workplace often or very often, while 27% were reluctant to do so. Seventeen percent felt uncomfortable or very uncomfortable displaying their faith in the workplace through religious dress or religious symbols.

The study was released one week ahead of ShabbatUK, which is taking place on Friday, November 11, as part of the wider South African- inspired global Shabbat Project. On that date in the UK, Shabbat will come in around 4 p.m. For many, the early hour may pose a challenge with regard to work hours.

The survey found that 32% would feel uncomfortable or very uncomfortable asking their employer to leave early for Shabbat. The key reasons stated were a reluctance to stand out from colleagues or work pressures making it difficult to leave early.

On the other hand, 28% of those who leave early, or have ever asked to leave early, felt that their colleagues were understanding and supportive, compared to 17% who felt there was a lack of understanding. From the perspective of employers, the study found that 56% felt comfortable or very comfortable with their employees leaving early for religious reasons.

“Modern Britain celebrates diversity and promotes freedom of religious belief, and it is encouraging to see that largely borne out in this research,” remarked Mirvis.

“But it is sad to see that there are still some for whom faith is something to be kept relatively quiet or avoided altogether while at work. Faith shapes the way that people live their lives, and as such, it has an important part to play in the workplace. Issues like trust, commitment and a strong work ethic are crucial in any professional environment and they are also important aspects of a religious life,” he said.

He expressed the hope that ShabbatUK will act as a catalyst for individuals to embrace their faith in the workplace, as well as in society in general.

The survey was conducted by ShabbatUK over the Internet, among 190 Jewish people between September 1 and October 27.


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