That title attempts to paraphrase the concern that one of our readers, Dani, recently shared in the following question she submitted:
An insider has told me that the company [that just purchased the company I have been working for] is primarily Mormon. I have made no attempt at research, fear limiting me. I have heard bits and pieces of information, but never make judgments or believe “Hear Say”. My concern with a primarily Mormon-based company taking over has nothing to do with religion… I LOVE the people who have come to help us transition. They are helpful, genuine and some of the nicest people I have met. I’m scared because I have no religion and no desire to convert, I drink more coffee than I should and smoke cigarettes. To a Mormon, would that discredit the fact that I go above and beyond in my position, work EXTREMELY hard and that my company is my heart, 2nd to my family? I just don’t want to lose my job, I have a beautiful family who depends on me. Please tell me honestly what you would think.
Thank you for your question. We appreciate the fact that you choose to withhold judgment or put your confidence in hearsay. As such, we appreciate being able to share some thoughts with regard to your situation.
It sounds like the company should be grateful to have a worker like you! A strong work ethic is something I think any company would appreciate, so keep up the good work.
Of course, it probably goes without saying that anytime there is a company takeover/buyout/change in management, that sometimes jobs can be lost in the process. I hope this won’t be the case in your company, for anyone, including you.
But I want to address your specific concerns about having members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints primarily make up the new organization that has bought your company, and how and if that would have any bearing on any job decisions made.
I think it’s important first to separate out what it means to be Mormon from what boundaries companies have in terms of hiring and firing decisions they make. If anything were to happen, it should not be because you are not Mormon or don’t follow Mormon standards, but because of professional reasons and factors and policies. So, the short answer to your question is no. The Mormonism of your employers should not have any bearing on your job status.
That said, I would still like to respond more specifically to some of your concerns.
So, first of all, in terms of your religious preferences, my understanding is that it is simply illegal for a corporation like this to make staffing decisions based on religion. So please, don’t give that another thought. Your employers, Mormon or not, should have no professional interest in your religious beliefs (or lack thereof, if that is the case), and should not make decisions based on religious preferences. I would trust that they would not.
(That said, you may find that as you get to know people in your company who are Mormon, there may be some who may try to strike up a conversation with you about religion. If this happens, and you are not interested in talking about this, just be honest with them. We like to share with others because it means so much to us, but we are also told to be respectful of others’ perspectives and beliefs.)
In terms of drinking coffee, I’d say don’t worry one bit about this either. Unless your coffee drinking negatively affects your job performance I could see no reason this would be an issue for your job security.
As for smoking, I have just done a little bit of searching on this. What companies do about smoking and company policy does vary somewhat across companies. I was actually surprised to find out that there are a few companies out there who have made or are making business decisions not to hire smokers. (One example I saw did not apply this policy change to current employees, but to those in the future. For what it’s worth.)
Many companies, as I’m sure you know, also have certain policies that can vary about where people can and can’t smoke if smoking is allowed on the premises. I think state law also varies across the country with regard to smoking in the workplace.
This particular issue seems to be more specific to the individual companies and the laws that are binding on them. So my thought is just to ask if you have a concern. Find out what company policies exist, if any, regarding smoking. Decisions about smoking in the workplace seem to involve a lot of different factors, such as health concerns, company mission, cost concerns, work environment and culture goals, applicable laws, etc.
So this is one of those issues where I think it’s essential to realize that what to do about smoking in the workplace is not going to boil down to a Mormon vs. non-Mormon issue. It’s a more widespread question, with ongoing and varying discussions, ideas, and policies in professional, political, and legal realms.
I hope this helps. In the end, of course (and unfortunately), I cannot possibly predict all the specifics of what the new work situation will be like — again, because such company transitions are unique and often a bit tumultuous by definition. It must all be a bit unnerving in general (I’ve watched friends go through such mergers and acquisitions (went through it when I was working full-time), and it can be hard!) But I hope as you move forward that you can put any fears regarding the Mormonism of your employers to rest. Your employers should make any staffing decisions as any employers should — based on job performance, peer feedback, company finances and strategy and goals, company policy, current laws, etc.
I sincerely hope that your job in this transition will be unaffected and that you will find that the positive experiences you had had to the point when you wrote your question will continue.
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I thought this was such a great question and I really appreciated the well thought out answer, as well. On the smoking thing–I have heard that this is an issue for health insurance companies. They charge higher rates to companies who are covering employees who smoke. As for state laws, California,for one, does not allow smoking in any public place. I imagine there are other states out there that have the same or similar policies.
My husband worked for Deseret Book (the LDS publishing corporation) for several years and during that time hired one assistant who was not Mormon and one assistant who grew up Mormon but was not longer practicing. Just as with any company, they conformed to the general culture of the corporation, but the differences in beliefs were not an issue in day to day work.
I was always curious why these women would choose to work at a Mormon company with an explicit mission to promote and nourish Mormonism. But I never got close enough to them to broach the subject. My husband was able to have plenty of good conversations with them and their unique perspective (in a sea of otherwise very homogeneous viewpoints) was very helpful to him.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
I think it’s worth noting that working for a Mormon company is different than working for a company led or staffed by many Mormons…although your husband’s experience can show that even working for a Mormon company, beliefs are separated from the day-to-day work culture.