.
W

hen people around the world are at their most vulnerable, governments, companies, and municipalities need everyone involved to find ways to serve their publics, whether they are constituents, customers, or community members. Now is the time for ESG-minded entities to make a breakthrough—to collaborate with faith-based organizations in an all-hands-on-deck approach to address public health risks associated with the global increase in loneliness.

Loneliness, you ask? Research has linked social isolation to greater risks of a variety of conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, and worse. A feeling of social isolation at work continues to be a key highlight in Cigna’s Loneliness and the Workplace 2020 U.S. Report contributing to billions in employer costs from stress-related absenteeism.  

And the problem has been building. In 2021, a global survey showed “about 33% of adults experienced feelings of loneliness worldwide.” And, according to Age UK, older people say they go over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbor, or family member.

Businesses and governments are reluctant to work with faith-based organizations due to potential public perceptions of disagreements surrounding tenets of belief. Yet, people who affiliate with a religion have extensive community networks, as well as trust among their peers. Their leaders’ ability to inspire positive change and grassroots momentum is unrivaled.

Religious gatherings at churches, synagogues, and mosques continue to be a cornerstone in civil society. These institutions have large, meaningful footprints that include facilities, staff, committed volunteers and a variety of effective communications tools. Thus, we use the power of the “fragmentation of faith” to help put the fragmented world back together again. Good people should agree to disagree on certain topics and move forward collectively leveraging all available assets to solve this growing concern.

In my field of diet related diseases including obesity and food allergies, I find the most direct route to understanding the needs and challenges of diverse patients is working with churches who facilitate conversations in a trusted environment, identify barriers to access and advise on appropriate design of support programs that align with other efforts in the community. Understanding daily challenges, feelings of isolation, and the impact on mental health provides my peers and I with the data we needed to create solutions. Our work shows that a comprehensive approach which is inclusive of all faiths has the potential to alleviate misery and uplift the world.

Active partnerships across civil society can provide the stabilizing force people need to feel less isolated and lonely. The tools to offset loneliness, interconnectedness, service, family, community, and belonging, are common threads woven through religions across the globe.

At Davos big ideas to “cooperate in a fragmented world” will prevail.

Let me reprise that a one-size-fits-all solution rarely works. People do not always react to a new idea the way we hope. Their responses to interventions can be driven by many factors—age, socio-economic status, location, individual health requirements, and culture. What works for one town or group might not work for others. But how we help people bridge gaps could be one of the most important things world leaders in business and government can do to move everyone onto a path for a more positive future.

Identifying areas to which we can agree and committing to interfaith collaboration increases capacity for improvement and provides choices for people to re-connect and re-engage in their communities and in the workplace. People are our assets and should be treated as such for the betterment of society and the bottom line.

Here are five suggestions I have found helpful when involving faith-based organizations in my work:

  1. To determine which faith-based groups would make the right partners for you, identify best practice characteristics, and inventory your program investments in areas where your employees reside.

  2. Upgrade program effectiveness by benchmarking against best of class models including religious entities which have shown the greatest success in sustainable re-engagement of disenfranchised people.

  3. Create multi-pronged scenarios that have the highest probability of success and be open to alternative concepts presented with data and facts.

  4. Celebrate cross cultural conversation and introduce staff to the interfaith community. Position engagement with religious institutions around a common purpose by reminding employees not to retreat to our bubble and forget that we have more in common than we think.

  5. Create bridge gap funding for organizations which present innovative, interfaith solutions in partnership with nonsectarian NGOs and pave a path for larger scale engagement.

We can never forget that even the most basic actions completed with compassion and empathy are the right thing to do from a human perspective, and they pay dividends when people are given a chance to work together and solve a problem. Let positive engagement be your guiding light.

About
Lisa Gable
:
Lisa Gable is a Diplomatic Courier Advisory Board member and WSJ and USA Today best-selling author of "Turnaround: How to Change Course When Things Are Going South" (IdeaPress Publishing, October 5, 2021).
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.

a global affairs media network

www.diplomaticourier.com

Binding a Fragmented World Together with the Strongest Ties

Photo by Amaury Gutierrez via Unsplash.

January 17, 2023

People around the world are at their most vulnerable. Now is the time for ESG-minded entities to make a breakthrough—to collaborate with faith-based organizations in an all-hands-on-deck approach to address public health risks associated with the global increase in loneliness, writes Lisa Gable.

W

hen people around the world are at their most vulnerable, governments, companies, and municipalities need everyone involved to find ways to serve their publics, whether they are constituents, customers, or community members. Now is the time for ESG-minded entities to make a breakthrough—to collaborate with faith-based organizations in an all-hands-on-deck approach to address public health risks associated with the global increase in loneliness.

Loneliness, you ask? Research has linked social isolation to greater risks of a variety of conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, and worse. A feeling of social isolation at work continues to be a key highlight in Cigna’s Loneliness and the Workplace 2020 U.S. Report contributing to billions in employer costs from stress-related absenteeism.  

And the problem has been building. In 2021, a global survey showed “about 33% of adults experienced feelings of loneliness worldwide.” And, according to Age UK, older people say they go over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbor, or family member.

Businesses and governments are reluctant to work with faith-based organizations due to potential public perceptions of disagreements surrounding tenets of belief. Yet, people who affiliate with a religion have extensive community networks, as well as trust among their peers. Their leaders’ ability to inspire positive change and grassroots momentum is unrivaled.

Religious gatherings at churches, synagogues, and mosques continue to be a cornerstone in civil society. These institutions have large, meaningful footprints that include facilities, staff, committed volunteers and a variety of effective communications tools. Thus, we use the power of the “fragmentation of faith” to help put the fragmented world back together again. Good people should agree to disagree on certain topics and move forward collectively leveraging all available assets to solve this growing concern.

In my field of diet related diseases including obesity and food allergies, I find the most direct route to understanding the needs and challenges of diverse patients is working with churches who facilitate conversations in a trusted environment, identify barriers to access and advise on appropriate design of support programs that align with other efforts in the community. Understanding daily challenges, feelings of isolation, and the impact on mental health provides my peers and I with the data we needed to create solutions. Our work shows that a comprehensive approach which is inclusive of all faiths has the potential to alleviate misery and uplift the world.

Active partnerships across civil society can provide the stabilizing force people need to feel less isolated and lonely. The tools to offset loneliness, interconnectedness, service, family, community, and belonging, are common threads woven through religions across the globe.

At Davos big ideas to “cooperate in a fragmented world” will prevail.

Let me reprise that a one-size-fits-all solution rarely works. People do not always react to a new idea the way we hope. Their responses to interventions can be driven by many factors—age, socio-economic status, location, individual health requirements, and culture. What works for one town or group might not work for others. But how we help people bridge gaps could be one of the most important things world leaders in business and government can do to move everyone onto a path for a more positive future.

Identifying areas to which we can agree and committing to interfaith collaboration increases capacity for improvement and provides choices for people to re-connect and re-engage in their communities and in the workplace. People are our assets and should be treated as such for the betterment of society and the bottom line.

Here are five suggestions I have found helpful when involving faith-based organizations in my work:

  1. To determine which faith-based groups would make the right partners for you, identify best practice characteristics, and inventory your program investments in areas where your employees reside.

  2. Upgrade program effectiveness by benchmarking against best of class models including religious entities which have shown the greatest success in sustainable re-engagement of disenfranchised people.

  3. Create multi-pronged scenarios that have the highest probability of success and be open to alternative concepts presented with data and facts.

  4. Celebrate cross cultural conversation and introduce staff to the interfaith community. Position engagement with religious institutions around a common purpose by reminding employees not to retreat to our bubble and forget that we have more in common than we think.

  5. Create bridge gap funding for organizations which present innovative, interfaith solutions in partnership with nonsectarian NGOs and pave a path for larger scale engagement.

We can never forget that even the most basic actions completed with compassion and empathy are the right thing to do from a human perspective, and they pay dividends when people are given a chance to work together and solve a problem. Let positive engagement be your guiding light.

About
Lisa Gable
:
Lisa Gable is a Diplomatic Courier Advisory Board member and WSJ and USA Today best-selling author of "Turnaround: How to Change Course When Things Are Going South" (IdeaPress Publishing, October 5, 2021).
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.