Texas Instruments

Texas Instruments was a pioneer when it comes to bringing Faith into the workplace. In the mid-1990’s, they started allowing faith and prayer into the organization. Kent Johnson, former Senior Legal Counsel for Texas Instruments shares the story and the impact Christ at Work can have on culture.

Changing the World by Bringing Faith into the Workplace

Kent Johnson: When we step back from all this and we realize that the product that we're talking about is goodwill and civility and understanding and caring for one another, you begin to realize that this doesn't stop at the four walls of your company. What we're talking about is world changing.

Texas instruments has changed over the years. When I first joined them, they were really radically different. In fact, when they first embraced faith in the workplace, they were a different company. The current employee base is about 30,000, but at one time, we were nearly a hundred thousand employees.

TI was one of the pioneers of religious diversity, what they call that. TI had been engaged in what they call the diversity movement for years prior to 2000, but it was around 2000 that we really began to ask the questions, if it's important to have different diverse viewpoints, why not give a voice to people of faith? The company had become very diverse, so you have people who are Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, all different types of faiths. Now, I was involved as a founder of the Christian group at Texas Instruments and a founder really of all of the, in a sense, to facilitate at least the starting of a Muslim group and a Jewish group as well.

Our ideas basically tracked some of the ideas of diversity groups, people feeling like they should be able to bring their whole self to work. You shouldn't have to go undercover. As a Christian believer or as any faith.

Why is it good for the company to tell an individual that your core identity is not important to us? So be quiet about it. In fact, doesn't that message send exactly the opposite message that you want to send, that you value all of your employees and that you care about 'em as human beings and they ought to be able to bring their whole self to work?

The whole discussion about our goals was crucial. They needed to know more than what we were going to do. They needed to know why. As we as a leadership team began to really wrestle with this ourselves and pray about it, it came clear to us that there was a goal of just loving people exactly as they are, and if we care about people, we want to know what makes 'em tick.

We want to know about their faith. We want to listen deeply. We don't want to just be shouting and talking ourselves. We want to get to know people. Part of the main focus that frankly got our management more comfortable with the idea was that we were going to be bridge builders. You get an opportunity to connect with people of other faiths that we just don't have an opportunity to do.

You and Your People are Missionaries

People are missionaries. They live in other countries In order to have these opportunities, we have them right in our workplaces, and you care about them enough to listen to them and in a respectful way. When they ask, when they're wanting to hear you, tell them about your faith. It's transformative. I can't emphasize this enough. You'll hear it from other speakers, I'm sure, but companies like Google and Intel and Microsoft, these companies are beginning to get it.

They begin to get the message that it's much better to allow faith to come out from underneath the table and to allow people to be themselves. They get fired up about work. They get excited about doing the right thing when nobody's looking. They apply their core principles, many of which are very similar in terms of behavioral activities to those of the Christian faith, and this is galvanizing for a culture.

What's most stirring to me is when somebody says, I finally think my company is seeing me. They see me for who I am, and they value me for what I am. I've heard people say the only reason I've stayed with Texas Instruments for 20 years is because they respect my faith. People feel liberated that they have the freedom to be themselves at work to bring their faith into the workplace. The importance of faith in the workplace is huge and growing.

A Change Worth Making

One of the reasons it's growing is because work is becoming more interconnected. There is no one person who can be the dictator of how things are going to work in a company. We need each other. We need different perspectives. Our work is changing all the time. You have to have flexibility, and this is more important today than it's ever been before, and I'd submit to you with all the divisiveness surrounding faith and belief in art society, we need this. When it's done well, there's goodwill all the way around. It's a phenomenal outpouring of appreciation and thanks.

The atheists, many of them come alongside us and say, boy, we're so glad you did this. What an opportunity. Where do you have an opportunity like this?

Yes, it's worth it. I'm in this to change the world and every person of faith who has a vision for the world changing and becoming a better place, this is your opportunity. You can bring this to your workplace and make a difference everywhere. We have the products of these little semiconductors that come out of Texas Instruments and whatever it is that other companies or services that they produce, but there's a more important product. That product is relationship and trust and caring. So my Muslim friend gets cancer. Do I go to the hospital? The relationships that are built, knowing that the person has a faith different from mine, it makes all the difference in the world. It just gives us an opportunity to love everybody.

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