For many, faith plays an important role in defining one’s full self. However, we often don’t feel comfortable bringing up the subject in everyday conversation. Seth Zimmer, an AT&T employee who practices his Jewish faith, realized there was a need for an open forum. One where he and his #LifeAtATT peers can provide more opportunities for employees to bring their full selves to the workplace.
“One thing I believe we take very seriously within AT&T is inclusion,” Seth said. “We put a great deal of focus and action on it.”
This realization marked the beginning of Faith@Work, an interfaith Employee Group that opens opportunities for discussions between members of different faiths – discussions that foster understanding and trust among colleagues. As Seth considered the Employee Group’s mission, he met Mohammed Farshori, who would become the Employee Group’s co-founder.
“My name announces my faith before I enter the room,” Mohammed said, “and my faith plays a role in who I am. I am a champion of Corporate Social Responsibility, an immigrant, an Asian-Indian, a husband, a father of two kids and a Muslim. We talk about everything else that makes us who we are, so why not talk about faith? That was the gap.”
The Faith@Work Mission
Faith@Work is an interfaith group that welcomes employees from all faiths, including those who do not profess faith. All employees, regardless of faith, are invited to join a journey to explore and learn about faith-based customs, traditions and more. Through open conversation, community events and speaker series’, members can facilitate a more inclusive environment.
“I believe a safe space plays a significant role for many people,” Seth said. “If I know you don’t eat pork for reasons of faith, I make sure you have something to eat for the group lunch. You’re not being inclusive if someone can’t join the meal, or if someone is made uncomfortable for having to choose between work and a religious holiday. Faith@Work is about raising awareness and providing opportunities on how to teach the faith of others so we can avoid those mistakes.”
Diversity of Faith
Seth and Mohammed believe discussions on faith require stepping away from viewing religions as monoliths. Mohammed shared how events from the Employee Groups can highlight how the same type of faith can uniquely impact a member’s life based on their cultural backgrounds.
“If we bring members together to have a dialogue, they may be surprised to see the similarities between each other’s faith.”
AT&T is no stranger to Employee Groups. Some have spanned decades and were among the first of their kind. Although they may focus on different aspects of culture or history, one thread remains – to encourage our people to bring their authentic selves to the workplace.
Seth recognized a need for a forum that provides honest, respectful and inclusive dialogue. The support he and Mohammed received from leadership and peers alike is just one reflection of how our people are committed to Listen, Understand and Act.
“We talk about the importance of everyone bringing their full selves to work,” Seth said. “Faith is one of the things that brings the full self for many.”Learn More About our Employee Groups