|Advance report on
Carolyn Wiethoff's research into Pagan perceptions of religious
discrimination in the workplace
Research on Pagan Perceptions of Workplace
Special to Pagan
By Christa Landon
March 8, 2007
As regular readers of Pagan Institute Report may recall, Carolyn Wiethoff, Ph.D., teaches and conducts research at the
Kelley School of Business at Indiana University-Bloomington. Her
research focuses on the workplace experiences of people whose religion is
considered "non-mainstream" or "minority" in today's society.
While Wiethoff herself is not a Pagan, she has been interested in studying
Pagans at work for two reasons: First, management researchers knew
next to nothing about religious discrimination at work, and nothing at all
about Pagans' experiences specifically. Second, Pagans are the ideal subject
group for research on workplace practices that both make people comfortable disclosing their religious beliefs at work and/or make people
feel that they will experience negative repercussions if they make that
disclosure. This is because Pagans can be more invisible than other
minorities and thus generally can choose whether or not to make that
About two years ago, she requested that Pagan Institute Report
publish her request for Pagans to participate in her study of Pagan
perceptions of workplace discrimination. Her questions included,
- What is it like to be
Pagan at work?
- Do your co-workers
- Have you experienced
- Are you happily "out
of the broomcloset" at work?
Her goals have been to
- document and call
attention to workplace discrimination faced by Pagans, Wiccans, and
members of similar religious groups;
- understand the nature
of the workplace experiences felt by these individuals;
- identify workplace
practices that both lead to religion-based discrimination and reduce it;
- inform managers
about Pagans and their workplace experiences; and
prescriptive suggestions about workplace practices that contribute to
making ALL workers feel accepted and comfortable at work.
Wiethoff on March 7, 2007 for an update. At present results have been
tabulated and the report is being written, but here is a preliminary report
special to Pagan Institute Report.
494 Pagans gave
complete (and therefore usable) survey data.
Wiethoff found that there are many similarities between coming out of the
closet and coming out of the broom closet. Pagans were much more
comfortable in the workplace and more likely to come out of broomcloset...
- if the Pagan believed
that the company's protection of religion policy applied to them;
- if there is open
religious diversity (anything other than main-stream Christianity) in the
- if there's a general
sense that the organization welcomes and celebrates diversity, through
special events, support groups, active diversity education. As
global organizations were perceived as committed to welcoming everyone,
Pagans felt safer and were more likely to come out in the workplace.
While Wiethoff didn't
mention the interest which Marketing and some Human Resources departments
have in attracting "cultural creatives," Pagans generally fit into that
category and furthermore, "cultural creatives" generally prefer being in
communities with high levels of diversity.
Her follow up research will be studying attitudes towards Pagans by employers.
If you would like
to share your experience, please write to the Editor (note spambot-baffle.)
Carolyn Wiethoff, Ph.D.
Clinical Assistant Professor of Management
1309 E. 10th Street
Bloomington IN 47405
cwiethof @ indiana.edu (note spambot-baffle.)