Oct. 28, 2009

Cornell community urged to support religious diversity

As stores start to stock their shelves with holiday items, Alan Mittman, director of the Office of Workforce Policy and Labor Relations, reminds us that Cornell's commitment to a diverse and inclusive work environment includes a commitment to religious diversity. Cornell policy provides a process for employees to request reasonable workplace accommodations based on their religious beliefs and practices.

According to Cornell United Religious Work (CURW), some 25 religious organizations are represented at Cornell, each of which celebrates significant holidays in different ways, from fasting and prayer to attending special services. "Be mindful of significant religious holidays and avoid scheduling organizationwide meetings or events on those days," says Mittman. "Refer to the calendar provided by CURW at http://www.curw.cornell.edu/holidays0910.html when scheduling major events or ask your employees if a particular day will be convenient for an officewide event."

Mittman also encourages employees to participate in events that celebrate Cornell's religious diversity. Programs offered by CURW (http://www.curw.cornell.edu/default.html), worship services (http://www.curw.cornell.edu/worship.html) and other events on campus provide a wide range of religious observances (http://www.cornell.edu/events/).

Mittman recommends faculty and staff use an inclusive approach in celebrating the holiday season. Follow the University Assembly approved "Guidelines for the Display of Religious Symbols" for inclusive seasonal displays and fire safety rules. These guidelines are available at http://www.ehs.cornell.edu/pdfs/Winter_Holiday_Display_Poster_2008_9.pdf.

"By building an inclusive environment, we hope to increase Cornell's ability to attract and retain a diverse, productive workforce and student body," he says.

Contact the Office of Workforce Policy and Labor Relations (607-254-7232 or equalopportunity@cornell.edu) with questions.