By Claire Camara, People Director

The Faith Research Centre conducted a study on faith in the workplace and published a report in April 2017. It revealed that 3% of respondents had experienced bullying, harassment or discrimination because of their religion. 

At the Co-op, we have zero tolerance to bullying, harassment and discrimination, and it’s therefore important we challenge ourselves to take time to understand different communities of faiths and how better to support them. 

It’s important to note that people who follow a religion come from all different backgrounds including different ethnicities, sexual orientations and nationalities, so they may experience different prejudices because of their overlapping identities. 

This week we’re sharing two of our colleague’s stories, the first is my own story.

I committed to Buddhism in 1998. I think that what drew me to Buddhism was at the time a realisation that I wasn’t really happy and wanted something that would enable me to develop a solid sense of self, purpose and happiness. 

I was working for the Prince’s Trust and at an event had a picture taken with three colleagues, who were also Buddhists. One of the women in the photo mentioned this which sparked my interest in the faith. That evening I spoke to one of them who shared how Buddhism had changed their life for the better. 

Millions around the world today share the desire to develop humanistic values, respect the dignity of life and hope for the future of our planet by basing their lives on the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin and I’m one of them.

I’m part of an Soka Gakkai international (SGI) a lay society of individuals from all over the globe and an active NGO who work alongside the UN and are dedicated to creating peace through Buddhist practice and educational and cultural activities. We’re all encouraged to challenge ourselves to make the world a more compassionate place. 

You’ll notice I’ve said ‘practice’ a lot and this is because we firmly believe that you’re continually practising in order to grow and develop, we’re all human and nobody is perfect. We believe that we all have a unique mission or purpose in this world to make a difference this is not about some lofty ideal but by the everyday interactions we have in our everyday lives. 

Every morning and evening I take time to chant Myoho-Renge-Kyo, pray Gongyo and focus on the positives of every situation. I also put great importance on learning about the philosophy and the true spirit of Buddhism by studying the writings and sharing life’s experiences with others. 

When I was younger I took part in a variety of events and cultural projects as a volunteer all of these based on making a difference. I’ve come to realise that one of the core premises of Buddhism is the importance of co-operation with other organisations and faiths who ultimately want to make the world a better place by doing what they can from where they are. 

In 2002 I did an activity at Wembley Stadium which was focussed on bringing young people together to ‘Be the change they wish to see’ – that event changed my life as I read on one the materials the quote below from a Buddhist scholar and mentor Daisaku Ikeda:

‘From a healed, peaceful heart, humility is born; from humility, a willingness to listen to others is born; from a willingness to listen to others, mutual understanding is born and from mutual understanding, a peaceful society is born.’

I’m fortunate to working in an organisation which is so aligned to my practice. The most important thing for me is harnessing the value that we all bring and respecting those differences reach out if you want to know more as more than happy to share Dream Big we all have something incredible to offer.

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. Claire, thanks for sharing your story. What I take away is that a sense of self and a sense of purpose is something that can positively guide us, irrespective of where it comes from.

  2. Reading this reminds of a simple but profound statement attributed to Desmond Tutu – a well-know adherent to another religion – in which he says ‘If we all do the little bit of good that we can, together we can change the world!’

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