Diversity at work

I mentioned last week that I'm out as an Atheist at work. My coworkers in my Engineering department all know I'm atheist, but there is a good chance that no one else at work knows about my personal philosophy.

My company sent out a mass communication yesterday that it is sponsoring its first ever, "Diversity Week" in August. This is something that would never have happened under our previous owners, who were all older white men. Our new owners are European, and have a more liberal outlook, so I guess it isn't a surprise.

The communication, which came to those in our department as an email, stated that our company would celebrate the diversity of cultural heritage and philosophies, and hinted at religious diversity too.

So in an email response, I asked for a clarification. Did our company intend to celebrate ALL diversity, including different churches, religions, and sexual identity? I wanted to clarify religion because the original communication was wishy-washy on that. And I tossed in sexual identity because places that accept LGBT lifestyles will usually accept Secular lifestyles.

Today I got a very firm response. Yes, diversity included ALL religions and sexual identities of our employees.

So, now I have a slight dilemma. As president of the only secular / skeptical organization in Fresno, I have a great opportunity to teach a couple of thousand coworkers about secular based morals. I also have a great opportunity to rock the boat that I'm in, make waves, and subject myself to scrutiny that I don't currently feel.

Our group could host a table for a day, or not. I'm not sure what to do about that. Any ideas?

Crossposted to the Central Valley Alliance of Atheists and Skeptics and to The Calladus Blog.


Anonymous said...

Have the table. Of course, I say this working in a liberal office full of atheists.

Blake Stacey said...

You could go for a longer table name and say, for example, that you represent "Freethinkers, Atheists and Humanists".

NerdMom said...

So now I think I have figured out where you work;). An atheist engineer isn't all that rare, not that I am encouraging that. But what is it that you would want to avoid? If you don't want Christian or others with religious beliefs to discuss why you believe as you do and why they believe as they do. Don't say anything. But as far as any actual discrimination, I don't know if that is a big concern.

Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

Let's be clear. The only ones who are likely to give you any crap are the ones on MY side of the aisles.

If I could get a little more info on the event, I could attend. And if I do, I can sound out my fellow co-religionists and figure out which, if any, are likely to dish out the crap. Then I can act proactively to make that less likely to happen. Can't guarantee anything, you understand, but I can grease the wheels for you.

Anyway, I say, have the table. Exercise your rights, be empowered and expect to be supported by clear-thinking adults. I'm in your corner.


Calladus said...

So now I think I have figured out where you work;).


But what is it that you would want to avoid?

I guess I'm avoiding conflict with those who don't know (or aren't sure) what my world view is.

Let's face it, a Christian community can put a church marquee in front of every church, which happens to be on every other corner in this city. Religious people can put up multiple billboards condemning abortion and calling people to Jesus, as they do in and around Fresno. They can knock on doors, proselytize in eateries, and have an entire section of the Fresno Bee as their very own every week...

But if I speak up I could be condemned for being "hostile" to religion - merely for expressing my viewpoint.

Now I accept the danger of that in my private life, but honestly I like the people I work with, and I would hate to hurt their feelings in the process of defending myself.

And I would hate to cause friction that would make me a less effective employee.

I don't expect any sort of friction from my fellow engineers - but our company is made up of many more than those just in Engineering. And many of those people are very devout.

So, yea, this is nervous-making for me. I'll be arranging to have a table and I'll man it - but I acknowledge the possibility that this might change the dynamic here for the worse.

Probably I'm worrying needlessly and I'm too self-conscious. But even knowing that, I still worry.