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This question about wearing a religious necklace in the workplace is getting close votes as off-topic -- legal/company policy. I don't get it. We have bunches of dress-code questions (and a tag for them). We have questions about guys with long hair, guys with earrings, and dressing more (or less) formally than one's colleagues. These questions don't ask about company policies (which we can't answer) or the law; they ask about workplace norms and conventions. That's on-topic, demonstrably.

The present question, too, asks about the appropriateness of wearing a certain item. The OP isn't asking for a ruling but about how to navigate international clients (i.e. people who might not share the OP's cultural norms) and unfamiliar colleagues (interviews).

How is that off-topic?

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    got to agree with you, I don't see anything wrong with it – Kilisi Nov 2 '15 at 7:33
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    (shrug) I'd guess because it has more to do with religion than dress-code, but I have no real idea. – Joe Strazzere Nov 3 '15 at 18:42
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The question is too broad and the OP is requesting an answer to a company-specific question that we can't answer while the broader question has no useful answers.

Bottom line, could wearing the star be offensive to others or slow my growth internally?

As Joe comments, it's possible that wearing a religious symbol is a career-limiting move in certain companies and in certain roles. But we can't possibly begin to list those situations and it's difficult, if not impossible, to identify a pattern that might help in determining when religious symbols would be detrimental. There are simply too many variables at play.

As I commented, in the Western world the answer to whether religious symbols will hurt your career is almost certainly going to be "it shouldn't but it could". Identifying yourself as religious is not going to have any positive effect and in the wrong situation it might have detrimental effects. However, all of that means that there is no useful answer to this question. It's up to each individual to determine if his environment will react poorly to a religious item.

I ended up voting to close as company-specific because of the specific wording the OP used: "will this slow my growth in company X?" which we can't answer as it's company-specific. The broader question "Will a religious symbol have negative effects for me in the workplace?" is too broad and equally unanswerable.


The fact that the OP limited the question to a Star of David rather than a generic religious symbol is also unfortunate, but not the real issue.

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    I don't want to edit your answer directly, but suggest removing is also unfortunate, but. I don't see why it would be unfortunate ;-) – user8036 Nov 2 '15 at 12:08
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    @JanDoggen I'm using it as a synonym for "regrettable" in the sense that it needlessly limited the scope of the question to just a Star of David. The question could be asked for any type of religious item without that impacting the answers too much. Of course it makes sense considering it was migrated from the Judaism site. In the event that the question is declared on-topic and reopened I would suggest that it be generalised. – Lilienthal Nov 2 '15 at 12:24
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    I think that a different religious symbol in a different region would be a different question. For instance, wearing a cross in the South would almost certainly help your career. – Amy Blankenship Nov 2 '15 at 16:48
  • Is this question any different in that regard than workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/56983/… -- which is marked as a dupe, not off-topic, and is on its way to being reopened? – Monica Cellio Nov 2 '15 at 17:14
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    @AmyBlankenship Perhaps, but that illustrates part of my point: answers are going to be so situation-specific that they are no longer useful to others (unless we maintain a question catalog of Religion X in Region Y) or if we generalise the question to just religious symbols it becomes too broad. – Lilienthal Nov 2 '15 at 18:40
  • @MonicaCellio I commented on the Movember question that it's either a duplicate or off-topic. The original question has a clearly defined scope and concerns a subject that is not nearly as divisive and tricky as religion. It's a simple question with a simple answer: "an unkempt beard is unprofessional, in other cases they're fine in most companies though exceptions exist". I've yet to see simple answers to any question about religion. – Lilienthal Nov 2 '15 at 18:47
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    @AmyBlankenship - actually, that's not really a different question. Changing the variables to "wearing a cross" and "in the south" just changes the context - which is the whole point. Without knowing the full context of all the variables, the question "Could Wearing My [religious symbol] Be Bad for Career? " is solely contextual. Even in "the south", wearing a cross at some companies might not go over well. – Joe Strazzere Nov 4 '15 at 12:01
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    @JoeStrazzere: and at others it may be beneficial. Which again is contextual. – jmoreno Nov 11 '15 at 6:35
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    -1: Voting to reopen. The rationale for closing is pedantic at best. Also the concept of you making this a generic “religious symbol” question is ridiculous. While not as minority as it once was, Judaism is still not a majority religion in the world. Christian symbols so surround us in the western world we tend to forget they are such. A non-majorty religion like Judaism carries its own unique weight/burdens to many even in places where Jews are in more number like NYC. Asinine logic to close that question. My overall answer, “If you have to ask if it’s an issue, it is an issue. Period.” – JakeGould Nov 11 '15 at 15:53
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    Sorry to comment again, but this boils my blood: “The fact that the OP limited the question to a Star of David rather than a generic religious symbol is also unfortunate, but not the real issue.” Yes it is the real issue! The most well accepted religion in this world—for better or worse—is Christianity; not Judaism at all. Being Jewish still carries a stigma and weight in many environments. This whole “splitting hairs” mentality is tone deaf to what the question is about. – JakeGould Nov 11 '15 at 16:03
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    @JakeGould I think you have entirely missed my point, which was that if the question were valid, it should still be modified to include all religions as the specific religion is not important to the question. The real issue is that the question isn't on-topic or sufficiently defined to be useful. – Lilienthal Nov 11 '15 at 17:20
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    @Lilienthal I don't think a general "can I wear my religious symbol" question would be valuable, actually. The details matter: where in the world you are, who your colleagues and clients are, whether the religion is dominant, respected minority, or disliked minority, what your role is... those things make a question answerable. – Monica Cellio Nov 12 '15 at 2:47
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    @MonicaCellio I agree. My stance is that both questions are too broad and unlikely too attract useful answers as they would have to cover too many possible situations. I can imagine partially useful answers which include general coping strategies and the like but nothing that truly answers an unanswerable problem. – Lilienthal Nov 12 '15 at 8:31
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Some thoughts in an unorganized and likely mess in the short time I have now:

  • "Could Wearing My Star of David Be Bad for Career?"
    • yes/no questions aren't generally good SE fits
  • "Bottom line, could wearing the star be offensive to others or slow my growth internally?"
    • again, another yes/no question. But this is even worse since it's entirely speculation and entirely dependent on the people you are around. It's not at all answerable without a lot more context for the OP than is currently present.

Neither of these questions are really answerable.

Your answer actually was an answer to a different question, that of "how can I mitigate any potential negative impression that wearing obviously Jewish attire causes?" which is far more on topic. But that's not what the question is asking nor is it what the other answers are really addressing.

At this point that makes it a mess to try to leave open, it should have been edited into the "how to mitigate?" question probably earlier before picking up now a total of 8 answers.

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Note that almost any question about human behavior starting with "could" or "might" can only be answered "Yes", which makes it a bad fit for SO. Even "is it likely" is a problem because it is so specific to contexts and individuals.

"How can I minimize the risk" would be more answerable, though in this case that too winds up reducing to a trivial answer -- don't provoke the wildlife more than you must, and if you feel you must then you've already decided that you're accepting the risk.

Basically, I don't see a way we can really help this person other than to tell them what they already know: that humans are irrational at times and a personal decision must be made about how important displaying this affiliation is to them. Same answer applies to other religious symbols, fraternity keys, or realistically just about anything.

Pick your positions, pick your battles, see what happens, adjust if you should (another judgement call)... in other words, this is unavoidably too personal to be a good SE question.

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