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Managing religious diversity in secular organizations in France

Sophie Hennekam (Human Resources Management Department, ESC La Rochelle School of Business, La Rochelle, France) (Institut de Recherche en Gestion des Organisations, Bordeaux, France)
Jonathan Peterson (Aix Marseille Université, Université de Toulon, CERGAM, Aix-en-Provence, France)
Loubna Tahssain-Gay (Human Resources Management Department, ESC La Rochelle School of Business, La Rochelle, France) (Aix Marseille Université, Université de Toulon, CERGAM, Aix-en-Provence, France)
Jean-Pierre Dumazert (Human Resources Management Department, ESC La Rochelle School of Business, La Rochelle, France) (CORHIS Université Montpellier 3, Montpellier, France)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 2 July 2018

Issue publication date: 8 August 2018

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine how managers deal with religious diversity in secular organizations in France.

Design/methodology/approach

In total, 28 semi-structured in-depth interviews with managers in France were conducted, transcribed and analyzed.

Findings

The findings reveal three distinct strategies. First, the authors identified a “flexibility within the rules” strategy in which managers try to accommodate religious practices by making allowances, create mutual understanding and trust. Second, a “separation strategy” emerged in which managers keep work and religion clearly separated. Those managers expressed a strong adherence to rules and perceived the implementation of allowances difficult not only for their own organization but also in light of third parties with whom they worked. Third, the findings reveal a “common-ground” strategy in which managers stressed the communalities between individual workers, downplayed their differences and sought to create a strong corporate culture to which all employees could relate.

Practical implications

The expression of religious beliefs in the workplace is increasing. However, little is known about how managers deal with the perceived clash of secularism and the presence of different religions in the workplace. Implications for managers such as taking into account perceptions of justice, practical issues as well as the importance of communication and education are discussed.

Originality/value

Religion is a deep-level and understudied aspect of diversity management that deserves more attention given the increase in religious diversity in the workplace.

Keywords

Citation

Hennekam, S., Peterson, J., Tahssain-Gay, L. and Dumazert, J.-P. (2018), "Managing religious diversity in secular organizations in France", Employee Relations, Vol. 40 No. 5, pp. 746-761. https://doi.org/10.1108/ER-06-2017-0142

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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