Islami Bank Ltd Embraces Religious Diversity, But Only So Far
Last week, Islami Bank Ltd. announced that it was revising it’s recruitment policies to ensure hires were based on merit “irrespective of religion, caste and creed,” and that “more female employees will be recruited for women empowerment.” It’s a move that should be applauded: Islami Bank Ltd. is Bangladesh’s largest bank whose leadership has been aligned with the radical Islamist group Jamaat-e-Islami, and a US Senate report in 2012 noted possible ties between the bank and Islamic terror organizations. For Islami Bank Ltd. to revise its recruitment policies to increase religious diversity at the institution, therefore, is a welcome sign of progress toward greater religious tolerance. The bank has more to do, however, before it can truly be seen as having taken a full step toward embracing religious diversity.
According to the bank’s official statement, “it will apply zero tolerance policy regarding compliance of Islamic sharia.” It’s unclear what exactly this means, but it seems to suggest that employees will be expected to comply with some variation of Islamic law regardless of their personal faith. This is problematic, both for the religious freedom of the employees as well as for the bank’s stated interest in increasing diversity hires. Forcing an employee to observe religious practices that are not their own is likely to make some qualified applications decide not to accept an offer. It also suggests that diversity is valued for primarily for appearances sake, rather than as an asset to corporate culture and the bank’s stated mission of “[ensuring] equity and justice in the field of all economic activities.”