Religion in International Business - Impact on Work, Teams and More October 19 2016, 0 Comments

by Erich Toll

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In global business, religion is a key factor in how global teams work together, schedule meetings and more.

Worldwide, religion is one of the key factors in workplace cultural diversity. Employees want religious beliefs and practices to be accommodated, including time during the workday for rituals, and time off from work for observances.

Failing to recognize different religions and respecting the needs of individual employees, can lead to team conflict, scheduling problems, and costly employee turnover

To help people from different cultures work together in harmony, it's essential for your people to be aware of different religions and key events

Here are 5 top religions, and key events:

1. Christianity

#1 religion worldwide, practiced by about 33% of the world population

The two primary Christian holidays are
• Easter (date varies)
• Christmas, set date, always December 25

These two events result in business closings in most Christian regions. In Western Europe, the days after Easter and Christmas are also holidays.

2. Islam

Islam is the world's #2 most-practiced religion, representing
23% of the world’s population.

From the Middle East to Southeast Asia, Islam has a big effect on how and when business is done. Muslim needs include time and setting for daily prayer – especially Friday noon – as well as ritual washing before eating and prayer.

Key Muslim holy days include:
• Ramadan (date varies)
• Eid ad-Fitr (date varies)

Please refer to the online intercultural diversity calendar, to find out this year’s dates for varying holidays

3. Hinduism 

Hinduism, the primary religion in India, is #3 worldwide. Because of the region’s diverse cultures, it has a large list of holidays. Some of the most important are
• Maha Shivaratri (Shiva’s Night) (date varies)
• Holi, Maha Shivaratri
• Ram Navami (Birthday of Rama) (date varies)
• Vaisakhi (New Year), April 14
• Janmashtami (Birth of Lord Krishna) (date varies)
• Dassehra (Durga Puja) (date varies)
• Diwali (date varies)

4. Buddhism 

Buddhism is the world’s 4th most-practiced religion.

In China, Vietnam, South Korea, Cambodia, and Thailand, New Year celebrations might result in businesses and government offices being closed for days or weeks. Buddhist holidays also affect countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand.

A couple key holidays include
• Buddha’s Birth, April 8
• Bodhi Day (Buddha’s Enlightenment), December 8.

5. Judaism

Judaism is a key religion in many countries. For example, it's the second most practiced in the United States.

For practicing Jews, many dates require time off from work. These include:
• first two days of Passover (date varies)
• Rosh Hashanah (date varies)
• Yom Kippur (date varies)
• first two days of Sukkoth (date varies)

In Israel, business is usually closed
• Passover (date varies)
• Hanukkah (date varies)

The global workplace sees great diversity in culture, language, and religion. An intercultural diversity calendar is the best way to schedule effectively, create harmony, and foster effective teams.

What did I miss? Please leave your comments or additional tips below.