As part of the trend towards more transparency and an interesting rise in spirituality (or is it just SQ – spiritual intelligence?), I have noticed companies using spiritual advisors. The Economist has noticed this trend too…
Praying for gain
Aug 23rd 2007 | WASHINGTON, D.C.
From The Economist print edition
A fad for piety infiltrates the realm of Mammon
DOES your job seem pointless? Are problems at home draining your zest for work? Is your boss a blithering idiot? Then why not consult the company chaplain?
Corporate chaplains are a booming business in America. There are roughly 4,000 of them (precise numbers are hard to come by) working everywhere from giant multinationals to tiny family firms. And their numbers are growing. America has several thriving rent-a-chaplain companies, and two seminaries that offer degrees in corporate chaplaincy, yet demand still exceeds supply.
Some companies prefer to rely on in-house chaplains. Tyson Foods, a meat-processing giant, employs 128 chaplains to minister to 85,000 employees in the United States, Mexico and Canada. John Tyson, the company’s boss, also employs an ordained minister as an executive coach to help him wrestle with ethical questions.
But most firms outsource their spiritual guidance. That makes it easier, of course, to get rid of surplus chaplains in a downturn. But it is also arguably better for the workers who seek their counsel, in that the chaplains work for a third party rather than the boss.
Marketplace Chaplains USA, based in Dallas, Texas, is America’s biggest provider of corporate chaplains, employing 2,100 of them at 300 companies in 46 states. The company was founded in 1984 but has enjoyed its most rapid growth over the past six years: it has doubled in size since 2001 and is currently adding a new client every seven days. Its customers range from banks to construction companies to Tyson’s main rival, Pilgrim’s Pride.
Corporate Chaplains of America, which is based in Wake Forest, North Carolina, is both newer and smaller: it was founded in 1996 and has 100 full-time chaplains on its books who minister to 75,000 workers in 24 states. But it is also booming. Dwayne Reece, a spokesman, says that the firm would like to have 1,000 chaplains ministering to 1m workers in six or seven years’ time. Both companies talk excitedly about going global. Marketplace Chaplains expanded into Mexico and Puerto Rico this year, and has high hopes for the British market. Corporate Chaplains has a client who wants it to expand into China.
Why the chaplain boom? People in the business point to the practical advantages of having a company cleric. Many workers are cut off from their geographic and religious roots. Corporate chaplains can perform the role of traditional village priests. People in the business also argue that corporate chaplains can boost productivity. Art Stricklin, of Marketplace Chaplains, claims that the turnover rate at Taco Bell outlets in central Texas dropped by a third after they started employing chaplains. More objective evidence is hard to find, but it is notable that companies have taken to advertising the fact that they employ chaplains in promotional literature.
Another reason is the growing intrusion of faith into the workplace. Once-closeted bosses are coming out as evangelicals (see article). Bible-study classes are proliferating across corporate America. Texas Instruments offers “serenity rooms” where employees can go to pray and meditate. Lawsuits from outraged secular employees are probably only a matter of time.
Source: The Economist print edition