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Preach tolerance at work

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

When Chris Berman, an ESPN anchorman, said “Jesus” in a negative tone on the air in 2008, it offended some viewers. After complaining to the sports network to no avail, they questioned why ESPN management didn’t discipline Berman for what they deemed his insensitive choice of words.

The viewers argued that ESPN failed to respond adequately to their concerns. They claimed that while the network held seminars on race and gender, it didn’t host a similar session on religion. Ultimately, the issue died down.

Keep this story in mind in December—a good time to explore religious tolerance in the workplace. Many faiths celebrate holy days this month.

Regardless of how clearly your organization’s policy stipulates that all employees demonstrate religious tolerance, a written rule has its limits. The real test of tolerance is how managers behave.

By modeling the kind of tolerant, open-minded attitude that you want your staffers to emulate, you set the right tone. If someone takes offense, respond with consistency and diligence.

Don’t prejudge a complaint as silly or trivial. Investigate the situation, gather facts and enforce your policy.

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