people are very awkward and intolerant only because
they don’t know exactly what to do. So when you have
a group that is able to talk about it being Ramadan
and, therefore, we shouldn’t have a big lunch because
not everybody can participate, there needs to be a
lot of education about difference, and having those
vehicles for education makes the workplace a lot more
comfortable for everyone.
If you look at where the headquarters of American
Express is to the rest of the World Trade Center, I
would think that having employee-resource groups
has helped people to understand more about Muslims.
[The groups] have been a great boon to us.
Dan Dunnigan: One of the principles of the Ford
Interfaith Network is a person of faith doesn’t stop
being a person of faith the minute they walk through
the door every morning. It is what motivates them
and drives them. You don’t have to be two different
people. You don’t have to be one person for the
company and a different person somewhere else.
And there are some real plusses from that from a
business perspective. For example, numerous media
outlets have come to profile Ford Motor Co. about
the accommodations made for Muslim employees
for mid-day prayer observances. And we have a board
that oversees the Interfaith Network and the Muslim
rep has told me repeatedly that he knows where he
is going to go to perform absolution and mid-day
prayers every day, he’s not stressed out, his mind is
not diverted, there is no time lost to go to a mosque.
He says it makes him a better employee. It increases
his sense of loyalty to the company because the
company does this for him.