Can We Reduce Pervasive Bias Against Muslims
in the Workplace?
Visconti: There is a reciprocal side to the environment, which is that someone’s religious expression
is a source of hostility, which, in the post-Sept. 11
environment, can be the case for Muslim employees
in workplaces that have not expressed values like
American Express and Ford, where it simply will not
Khadija Athman: To me, religion in the workplace is an
OK thing because you’re expressing your individuality
and you should be accommodated so long as it doesn’t
cause any hardship on the part of the employer. And
in relation to the employees, so long as it is not intrusive to others, it is not proselytizing. For instance, just
because Islam women are required to dress modestly,
that doesn’t mean I should go around condemning
anyone whom I consider not to dress modest.
Bennett: Our research shows that out of those who
perceive that they have been a victim of religious bias,
only 23 percent ever report it to anybody. I think the
reason for that has a great deal to do with immigration patterns, because of those who have been victims
of bias, Muslims and Hindus are the ones who feel
the most vulnerable in the workplace; they come
from cultures that have a very different relationship
with authority than we do here in the United States.
Authority is not your friend, and what you do is you
are taught to keep a low profile and not to complain,
so they don’t complain. We have also found out when
they do complain, they are far less likely to get a
response from the company than a Christian is. A lot
of this is going to change for the second generation,
but first-generation immigrants are far less likely to
complain and use those systems that are in place.