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Robert Spagnola Tom Yagos

Workplace Spirituality: A Compassionate Model for Jesuit Business Schools To Teach Their Students A Transformational Way To Lead Corporations

The relevance and relationship of workplace spirituality in management and organization life have not received much attention as a topic of study in Jesuit business schools even though the topic is finding space in more and more textbooks and is included as a special interest group for the Academy of Management. The topic of spirituality is especially relevant in a business school setting as a global pandemic has changed the basic way work gets done now. As more people find themselves isolated and alone as they work in remote locations, it is logical to conclude the global workforce will seek more meaning and depth to their work-life than usually supplied with just a paycheck and our business students need to be prepared with a new leadership model that includes spirituality. Spirituality has traditionally been associated with religion. Webster defines spirituality as “sensitivity or attachment to religious values.” This definition is not particularly helpful, but Turner (1999) provides a more useful definition when she writes “it means engaging the world from a foundation of meaning and values. It pertains to our hopes and dreams, our patterns of thought, our emotions, feelings, and behaviors.” Applying this definition to the workplace means people finding meaning in their work. A practical reason for exploring the concept of spirituality in the workplace as opposed to religion is that there is always the danger of creating an unintended liability by management pushing religious beliefs onto employees. Under Title VII, the primary federal law prohibiting workplace discrimination employers can expose themselves to charges of harassing others in trying to share their religious beliefs while creating a spiritual work environment carries no such legal threat. We propose to offer in our paper a model for educating Jesuit business students that can be considered a transformative vision of leadership and business management based on the concepts of spirituality. We hope to show students a way to build spiritual values into a corporate culture so as to allow the human spirit to flourish and the company to make a profit while helping to build a more sustainable world.