SpiritualAudit A Spiritual Audit of Corporate America,
by Ian I. Mitroff and Elizabeth A. Denton.
Jossey-Bass, 1999, 248 pages, $32.

Does spirituality belong in the workplace? Based on extensive empirical research conducted by the authors of A Spiritual Audit of Corporate America, the answer is a resounding yes -- as long as spirituality is not confused with religion. According to the authors, respondents to their surveys "viewed religion as a highly inappropriate topic and form of expression in the workplace. Conversely, spirituality was viewed as highly appropriate." Spirituality, in this case, refers to what the authors call "the basic desire to find ultimate meaning and purpose in one's life."

Spiritual Organizations

Having established that employees and managers would be happier (and, according to the authors, more productive) in workplaces that did not exclude spirituality, the authors then address the question of how to make workplaces more spiritual. The answer, extrapolated from their research, is five different models of spiritual companies or organizations:

  • Religion-based organizations, in which the dogma of a particular religion guides the values and behavior of all employees and managers. Needless to say, employees who don't adhere to the official company religion would hardly feel comfortable and would probably not last.
  • Evolutionary organizations, in which a religious organization evolves into a more ecumenical, but still spiritual, company. The YMCA, a formerly dogmatic Christian organization, is one example.
  • Recovery organizations, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, in which key executives are in recovery from addictions, and management principles are built around recovery step programs.
  • Socially responsible organizations, which view social responsibility as part of their mandate.
  • Values-based organizations, in which behavior and policy are specifically and clearly guided by broad values such as honesty and respect.

A Pragmatic Approach

The authors of this work have two goals. The first is to demonstrate, through rigorous empirical research, that most people want (and should be encouraged to have) spirituality in the workplace. The second is to offer a range of organizational models that will allow companies to offer a more spiritual work environment. The authors -- one a business professor at USC and a prolific author, the other a management consultant to Fortune 500 companies -- succeed, although they are aided by a broad definition of the term "spirituality." But since 70% of the people in the authors' survey do not link spirituality to religion, this broad definition lays the groundwork for realistic, practical approaches to spirituality in the workplace.

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