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Understanding religious diversity: implications from Lebanon and France

Akram Al Ariss (Toulouse Business School, France)
Yusuf M Sidani (Olayan School of Business, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon)

Cross Cultural & Strategic Management

ISSN: 2059-5794

Article publication date: 1 August 2016




The purpose of this paper is to argue that national history plays an important role in formulations of workplace religious diversity strategies and practices. It builds on a discussion of the organization of religion in the workplace in two countries, namely, France and Lebanon.


This is a conceptual paper that provides an analysis into how national history plays an important role in formulations of workplace diversity strategies and practices.


The paper shows how religion has historically been organized and deployed in contemporary France and Lebanon by the same colonial power, albeit in different ways. While the workplace in France remains religiously neutral in the context of its national labor market, the colonial power has largely contributed to organized religion in contemporary organizations in Lebanon. In analyzing the Lebanese and French cases, it is argued that the use of religious diversity has weakened the process of adopting equal, diverse, and inclusive managerial strategies.

Practical implications

Experiences in both countries suggest a failure of “blind neutrality” in the case of France, and another failure of a form of positive discrimination in the case of Lebanon. The authors draw lessons from those two experiences and propose future directions of how policy makers/legislators and organizations can advance and capture more equal, diverse, and inclusive diversity strategies.


The above two cases offer rich lessons for religious diversity scholarship and practice. The paper contributes to the literature on diversity in the workplace by questioning the organization of religious diversity in two countries that are under researched in management and organization studies.



The main author would like to thank Noeleen El Hachem for her help in documenting the state of religious segregation in Lebanon and the law on Islamic veil in France.


Al Ariss, A. and Sidani, Y.M. (2016), "Understanding religious diversity: implications from Lebanon and France", Cross Cultural & Strategic Management, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 467-480.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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