Chaim Shapiro, assistant director of the office of Career Services at the Lander College of Arts and Sciences in Flatbush (LAS), will present a workshop at the 2013 National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Annual Conference and Expo in Orlando, Fla., in June on the topic of “Religious Diversity in the Workplace.”
“The issues addressed by Chaim Shapiro are of key importance to the Orthodox Jewish community, as well as to practitioners of other faiths,” said Robert Goldschmidt, the dean of students at LAS and Touro’s vice president for planning and assessment. “All of us at Touro are extremely proud of Chaim and his service to our students entering the job market.”
The presentation will focus on many of the difficulties that people outside of the mainstream religions in the U.S. often face upon joining the workforce. Shapiro hopes that the workshop will inform career-service professionals and help them prepare students for what they may encounter in the workplace and minimize the problems that may arise.
“First, we’d like to make career service professionals aware of what these problems are because, even if they know that these issues exist, most are unlikely to be particularly familiar with them,” said Shapiro. “Once they understand those challenges, we’ll teach them to coach students to achieve success in their careers while maintaining their religious observances.”
Shapiro, the primary presenter, invited career-service representatives of four religions that reflect a large part of the country (Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, and Judaism) to join him to inform those in attendance of what religious students might have to deal with when they begin their careers.
Some questions they will tackle: Would a Muslim woman wearing a hijab, a traditional head covering, or any other religious garb, feel uncomfortable in a work environment? What’s the proper way for an Orthodox Jewish man to respond when, at a job interview, a female extends her hand in greeting? Will coworkers look askance at a Catholic with ash on his or her forehead on Ash Wednesday?
“We want to find ways to let them maintain the practices consistent with their religious beliefs and still function effectively in the workplace,” he said. v