Business: A powerful force for
interfaith understanding & peace

E-NEWS ACTION DONATE

Monthly Archives: May 2014

Religious Freedom Linked to Economic Growth, Finds Global Study

29 May, 2014
Washington, D.C., May 29, 2014 – Religious freedom is one of only three factors significantly associated with global economic growth, according to a new study by researchers at Georgetown University and Brigham Young University. The study looked at GDP growth for 173 countries in 2011 and controlled for two-dozen different financial, social, and regulatory influences.

British Parliamentary briefing on the study on June 10!

As the world navigates away from years of poor economic performance, religious freedom may be an unrecognized asset to economic recovery and growth, according to this new study. The study examines and finds a positive relationship between religious freedom and ten of the twelve pillars of global competitiveness, as measured by the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index (see example in chart).

The study, however, goes beyond simple correlations by empirically testing and finding the tandem effects of government restrictions on religion and social hostilities involving religion (as measured by the Pew Research Center) to be detrimental to economic growth while controlling for 23 other theoretical, economic, political, social, and demographic factors.

The new study also furthers previous work in the field, including 
The Price of Freedom Denied 
(by Brian Grim & Roger Finke, Cambridge, 2011). Grim & Finke’s research showed that religious freedom is a key ingredient to peace and stability, as measured by the absence of violent religious persecution and conflict. This is particularly important for business because where stability exists, there is more opportunity to invest and conduct normal and predictable business operations, especially in emerging and new markets.

The new study observes that religious hostilities and restrictions create climates that can drive away local and foreign investment, undermine sustainable development, and disrupt huge sectors of economies. Such has occurred in the ongoing cycle of religious regulation and hostilities in Egypt, which has adversely affected the tourism industry, among other sectors. Perhaps most significant for future economic growth, the study notes that young entrepreneurs are pushed to take their talents elsewhere due to the instability associated with high and rising religious restrictions and hostilities.

Religious freedom when respected within a company can also directly benefit the bottom line. This includes both improved morale and lower costs. For instance, the clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch fought and lost a religious discrimination case in 2013 related to firing a Muslim stock girl for wearing a scarf in violation of the company’s dress code. The case resulted not only in substantial legal costs but also in negative national publicity.

Moreover, freedom of religion or belief is a human right protected in numerous treaties and agreements, including the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The study suggests that businesses may gain a competitive advantage by meeting the expectations of stakeholders who are increasingly demanding that companies play a positive role in addressing issues of social concern and fairness.

The study’s findings are timely given the rising tide of restrictions on religious freedom documented by Pew Research, showing that 76% of the world’s people currently live with high religious restrictions or hostilities. And the findings are especially relevant because the research shows that the largest markets for potential growth are in countries where religious freedom is highly restricted – casting a question mark over the long-term sustainability of growth in countries such as China. (See The Weekly Number for more on China.)

  • The full report, “Is Religious Freedom Good for Business?: A Conceptual and Empirical Analysis,” is available on the website of the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion (IJRR). The authors of the study are Brian J. Grim, Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs, and Greg Clark and Robert Edward Snyder, Brigham Young University’s International Center for Law and Religion Studies. 

For related content see: Seven Reasons Why Religious Freedom is Good for Business


7732061

The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization working globally to show how religious freedom is good for sustainable business and innovation. The Foundation educates the global business community about how religious freedom is good for business, and engages the business community in joining forces with government and non-government organizations in promoting respect for freedom of religion or belief. It does not take positions on political debates.

 

Media inquiries, contact Melissa Grim, 410-268-7809, melissa@religiousfreedomandbusiness.org

Stay up to date with the Foundation’s Newsletter.

Webinar: Exciting New Global Sustainable and Innovative Business Initiatives

26 May, 2014
PRESS RELEASE: May 29, 2014
The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation and the UN Global Compact’s Business for Peace platform held a webinar on May 21, 2014, discussing exciting new global sustainable and innovative business initiatives that help foster peace and lower religious hostilities.

NEW LANDMARK RESEARCH was also previewed during the Webinar: Religious Freedom Linked to Economic Growth, Finds Global Study

1

Brian Grim, President of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, discussed how the Foundation is looking for ways to foster respect for religious freedom and religious minorities in response to the social and economic harms that occur as a result of the cycle of violence that occurs as government restrictions on religious freedom stoke social hostilities involving religion, and vice versa. One example discussed below is helping Dalits turn waste into wealth.

Grim also discussed projects in the works, such as the Business, Faith & Freedom Forum at the World Expo in Milan in 2015, which will include an exciting look into how the business of food and religious freedom intersect. He also discussed the Global Awards to be held in Rio de Janeiro during the 2016 Olympics.


2

Melissa Powell from the UN Global Compact’s Business for Peace platform discussed their 17 global compact networks, and the data they have compiled over the past decade. They have over 100 companies around the world from 29 countries participating. Their work has focused on how the private sector can contribute to peace, and how implementation can differ from country to country yet with the same guiding principles.

Participants in the webinar discussed relevant case studies with reference to how religious freedom is good for business.

3

Ed Brown from Stefanus Alliance International, Norway, described a project of helping theDalits, Hindu cast members in India, Pakistan and Nepal, in creating a sustainable industry in waste management.

4Leite (at right) with Secretary General of Brazil

Ricardo Leite, Esq., President of Brazil’s Association of Religious Freedom & Business, discussed the high level meetings that the nation has hosted regarding religious freedom and business at Brazil’s judicial, administrative and executive levels. A new project is to introduce a business school curriculum focused on fostering respect and awareness of the benefits of religious freedom.

5

Joyce S. Dubensky, Esq., CEO TANENBAUM, discussed how Tanenbaum helps companies develop and implement concrete strategies for addressing religious diversity and inclusion. Religion is a very powerful force in peoples’ lives, and it emerges in workplaces. When companies manage and implement pragmatic strategies for accommodating their employees’ religious beliefs and practices, they combat religious discrimination – and improve bottom line business goals. Tanenbaum is a secular organization promoting respect for religious diversity in the workplace.

6

Greg Clark, Esq., Vice President of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, discussed how when a business is respectful of its employees’ religious beliefs, work productivity is increased and employee retention is greatly promoted. He stressed that employees are the backbone of any corporation, and incurring their loyalty is key to a business’ success.

7

Pasquale Annicchino, Ph.D., LL.M., Senior Research Fellow of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, and Research Fellow at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute discussed the Business, Faith & Freedom Forum at the World Expo in Milan in 2015, which will include an exciting look into how the business of food and religious freedom intersect. Annicchino also noted how it will help inform and set a standard for future projects of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation.

8

Otto Kölbl, researcher at the Université de Lausanne Faculté des lettres, section d’allemand, discussed an interesting new project in Tibet.  His research has shown how facilitating the Tibetan tourist industry will help them culturally, economically and religiously, as well as bring peace, harmony and cooperation in the region.

7 Reasons Why Religious Freedom is Good for Business

26 May, 2014
By Brian Grim – May 26
Originally published by Canon & Culture

5977481

Freedom of religion or belief is good for business. As outlined in Article 18 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights,

Article 18: Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.


But why is it good for business? In short, because religious freedom:

  • Fosters respect
  • Reduces corruption
  • Engenders peace
  • Encourages broader freedoms
  • Develops the economy
  • Overcomes over-regulation
  • Multiplies trust

First, religious freedom fosters respect by protecting something that more than eight-in-ten people worldwide, 84 percent according to a recent Pew Research study, identify with – a religious faith. Given that so many people are attached to a faith, to violate the free practice of religion runs the risk of alienating the mass of humanity, something that certainly would not be ideal for morale and socio-economic progress. Indeed, forcing the 16 percent of people with no specific religious attachment to have a religion would likewise be alienating. Religious freedom ensures that people, regardless of their belief or nonbelief, are accorded equal rights and equal opportunity to have a voice in society.

Second, religious freedom reduces corruption, one of the key ingredients of sustainable economic development. For instance, research finds that laws and practices burdening religion are related to higher levels of corruption. This is borne out by simple comparison between the Pew Research Center’s 2011 Government Restrictions on Religion Index with the 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index. Eight of the ten most corrupt countries have high or very high governmental restrictions on religious liberty. Religious freedom also implies that business people can draw on religious values and moral teachings in their businesses. The attempt to force businesses to act as secular, neutral, value-free organizations may be one contributing factor to the corruption, greed and short-sighted decisions that lead to the global economic collapse of 2008 that still affects many people and nations today. Allowing religion to inform business ethnics certainly is an underused activity implied by religious freedom.

Third, research clearly demonstrates that religious freedom engenders peace by reducing religion-related violence and conflict. Conversely, when religious freedom is not respected and protected, the result is often violence and conflicts that disrupt normal economic activities. Religious hostilities and restrictions create climates that can drive away local and foreign investment, undermine sustainable development, and disrupt huge sectors of economies. Such has occurred in the ongoing cycle of religious regulations and hostilities in Egypt, which has adversely impacted the tourism industry. More generally, religious freedom is a key ingredient to peace and stability, which is particularly important for business because, where stability exists, there is more opportunity to invest and conduct normal and predictable business operations, especially in emerging and new markets. This is the topic of the 2011 Cambridge University Press book, The Price of Freedom Denied.

Fourth, religious freedom encourages broader freedoms that contribute to positive socio-economic development. Economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, for instance, argues that societal development requires the removal of sources of “unfreedom.” And restrictions on religious freedom are certainly a source of unfreedom. Removing impediments to religious freedom facilitates freedom of other kinds. And research finds empirical evidence or this relationship. Religious freedom is highly correlated with the presence of other freedoms and a variety of positive social and economic outcomes ranging from better health care to higher incomes for women. While correlations are not causation, the correlations suggest that a more robust future research agenda should focus on better understanding these connections because it appears the freedoms rise or fall together.

Fifth, religious freedom develops the economy. When religious groups operate in a free and competitive environment, religion can play a measurable role in the human and social development of countries. For instance, sociologist Robert Woodberry finds that the presence of proselytizing Protestant faiths, i.e., faiths competing for adherents, was associated with economic development throughout the world in the previous century. Even before that, Alexis de Tocqueville recognized that such Protestant associations in the early U.S. of these sorts established seminaries, constructed inns, created churches, disseminated books, and founded hospitals, prisons and schools. And these contributions are not just a legacy from the past. Katherine Marshall, former director of the Development Dialogue on Values and Ethics at the World Bank and former director in the World Bank’s Africa and East Asia regions, also recognizes that faith communities not only provide education and health services but they also provide social safety nets for orphans, disabled people and people who fall behind.

Sixth, religious freedom overcomes over-regulation that accompanies certain types of religious restrictions that directly limit or harm economic activity. A few current examples from the Muslim-majority countries – a set of countries with particularly high religious restrictions – are illustrative of how the lack of religious freedom contributes to worse economic and business outcomes. Religious restrictions among Muslim-majority countries impacting businesses take many forms. One direct religious restriction impacting economic freedom involves Islamic finance. For instance, businesses involved in creating, buying or selling Islamic financial instruments can find the situation that one Islamic law (sharia) board deems a particular instrument acceptable while another board does not, making the instrument’s acceptance on stock exchanges subject to differing interpretations of sharia. Religious restrictions also include legal barriers for certain import and export industries, such as the halal food market and outright bans of certain blockbusters from the film industry. And, certain government laws and restrictions on religious freedom can stoke religion-related hostilities that disrupt markets throughout the region. Examples range from employment discrimination against women over such things as headscarves to the misuse of anti-blasphemy laws to attack business rivals. And perhaps most significantly for future economic growth, research shows that the instability associated with high and rising religious restrictions and hostilities can influence young entrepreneurs to take their talents elsewhere.

And seventh, religious freedom multiplies trust. Religious freedom, when respected within a company, can also directly benefit a company’s bottom line. These include both lower costs and improved morale. An example of lower costs includes less liability for litigation. For instance, the clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch fought and lost a religious discrimination case in 2013 related to firing a Muslim stock girl for wearing a scarf in violation of the company’s dress code. The case resulted not only in substantial legal costs but also negative national publicity. Respect for reasonable accommodation of religious freedom in the workplace can improve employee morale, increase retention of valued employees, and help with conflict resolution. Moreover, businesses may gain a competitive advantage by engaging stakeholder expectations that are increasingly demanding that companies play a positive role in addressing environmental, social and governance challenges. As recognized by business consulting group McKinsey & Company, the ethical stakeholder has clearly emerged and is on the rise. Important business stakeholders include business partners, investors and consumers, and a growing segment of ethically sensitive customers tend to prefer companies that are responsive to human rights. Indeed, consumer and government preferences given to human-rights-sensitive companies may give a company an advantage in competitive markets and enable it to charge premium prices and land choice contracts. And recognizing this human rights impact on branding, companies such as Gap have assumed shared responsibility for the conditions under which its goods are manufactured.

Given that religious freedom contributes to better economic and business outcomes, advances in religious freedom are in the self-interest of businesses, governments and societies. While this observation does not suggest that religious freedom is the sole or even main anecdote to poor economic performance, it does suggest that religious freedom is related to economic success. Certainly, businesses would benefit from taking religious freedom considerations into account in their strategic planning, labor management and community interactions. For instance, when evaluating locations for future research and development operations, countries with good records on religious freedom may be a better environment to find societies open to innovation and experimentation.

  • Brian Grim is president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation and a leading expert on international religious freedom and the socio-economic impact of restrictions on religious freedom, and an expert on international religious demography and religion-related violence.

Religious Freedom & Business Foundation Board member, Chris Seiple, to chair World Economic Forum’s Council on the Role of Faith

22 May, 2014
DR. SEIPLE ACCEPTS INVITATION TO CHAIR WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM’S COUNCIL ON THE ROLE OF FAITH. Chris is a board member of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation.

6132498

Following his service as Vice-Chair (2012-2014), Chris Seiple has accepted the nomination to serve as Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Role of Faith (2014-2016). In this capacity Dr. Seiple will build on the work of the Council from the previous term, raising awareness of the unique positive contributions of faith communities. The Council is likely to explore the development of an information program for cross cultural engagement focused on how best to leverage socio-cultural, multi-faith engagement for conflict prevention and conflict transformation.

Washington, DC – (May 16, 2014) We are pleased to announce that Dr. Chris Seiple, President of the Institute for Global Engagement, has accepted the nomination to serve as Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Role of Faith (2014-2016).

In issuing the invitation, Dr. Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, noted that Seiple was “one of the world’s most relevant and knowledgeable thought leaders in the field of faith and international affairs”, and that his “leadership would be instrumental in helping this Council collaboratively develop pertinent insights and solutions to address this global challenge.”

Through his Chairmanship, Seiple will work with the Council on the Role of Faith to build on the achievements of the previous term and to further raise awareness of the unique positive contributions of faith communities. The Council is likely to explore the development of an informational program regarding how to leverage socio-cultural, multi-faith engagement for conflict prevention and conflict transformation. This program will likely focus on two sets of stakeholders: (1) public sector authorities in countries experiencing internal conflicts and/or restrictions related to religion; and, (2) business professionals, particularly those working in emerging markets and conflict affected regions.

It is an honor to serve as the Chair for such a Network that understands the importance of track 1.5 diplomacy, and continuously seeks to collaboratively shape thought leadership in all arenas,” Seiple said in accepting the nomination. “I am especially motivated by the unique position this Council has to further awareness of the added value of faith across all vocations and locations.”

The Network of Global Agenda Councils is a global community of over 1,500 thought leaders who are the foremost experts in their fields of academia, business, government, international organizations, and society. Members of the Network, grouped into 80 Global Agenda Councils and six Meta Councils, commit their extensive knowledge, expertise, and passion to jointly shape the global, regional, and industry agendas by challenging conventional thinking, developing new insights, and creating innovative solutions for key global challenges. In today’s global environment marked by short-term orientation and siloed thinking, the Network fosters interdisciplinary and long-range thinking on the prevailing challenges on the global agenda. Established in 2008, the Network of Global Agenda Councils is an invitation-only knowledge network that serves as an international brain trust to the World Economic Forum and the world at large.

Through the leadership of Dr. Seiple, IGE welcomes the opportunity to continue providing strategic insight and recommendations into this vital discussion. The Network not only represents a shared space for those that might not have otherwise met, to meet, but it also provides the opportunity for scholarship on relevant issues for further consideration and study. The development of an information program on how to leverage socio-cultural, multi-faith engagement for conflict prevention and conflict transformation could also enhance the Network’s ability to speak into a common standard of training and education on these issues. The international nature of the Network further nurtures an organic structure for consensus pursuant positive change through the Network’s members, as they return to their contexts. Critical to such a process, of course, is the inclusion of women of faith in leadership, as Dr. Seiple advocated at Davos earlier this year.

“I am grateful for this opportunity, at this time,” Dr. Seiple noted. “In a century defined by a single question—will we be able to live with our deepest differences?—This World Economic Council on the Role of Faith provides a safe space to demonstrate how the best of faith not only defeats the worst of religion, but how faith can contribute positively in all spheres and sectors of both state and society.”

Foundation’s work in Brazil takes major steps forward

19 May, 2014
IMMEDIATE RELEASE – BRASILIA: The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s U.S. and Brazilian officers met with leading business and political leaders in the capital, Brasilia, and in the financial capital, São Paulo.

1400423941Meeting at Presidential Palace

In Brasilia on May 14, the delegation led by Foundation President Brian Grim and the Brazilian Association President Ricardo Leite, met in the Presidential Palace Alvorada with the Minister of State and General Secretary of the President of the Republic, Gilberto Carvalho. Mr. Carvalho welcomed the Foundation’s recommendation that Brazil take a leading role in promoting religious freedom worldwide.

Deputy Minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, Ricardo Schaefer, expressed similar sentiments. Earlier in the day Grim and Brazilian board member Romanna Remor met with Jose Augusto Coelho Fernandes, Policy and Strategy Director of the Brazilian National Confederation of Industry, to review the latest research on religious freedom’s positive contribution to business and industry.

These meetings build on previous meetings with Brazil’s Vice President Temer and other leading business, political and religious leaders.

 

Brazilian Association Launched!

1400424489Brazilian Officers and Board

To support the Foundation’s ambitious initiatives in Brazil, a local association affiliated with the Foundation was officially inaugurated at a dinner in São Paulo on May 15. Political, business and religious leaders attended the gala (see photo gallery below).

The major project in Brazil will be the Religious Freedom & Business Global Awards to be presented in the host city of each summer and winter Olympics, beginning in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. The Religious Freedom & Business Global Awards recognize best advances and innovations by businesses in improving respect for religious freedom.


The first major project will be a global webinar with the UN Global Compact’s Business for Peace office broadcast from São Paulo on May 21.

l

GLOBAL WEBINAR: May 21, 8:00 AM, EDT

On Wednesday, the Foundation and it’s Brazilian Association will work with the Business for Peace platform of the United Nations Global Compact to host the global webinar, “Religious Freedom is Good for Business.”

JOIN THE DISCUSSION on how religious freedom enables business to be more productive. This webinar will review research and provide information about this relationship while offering concrete ways for the business community to collaborate with government and non-governmental organizations in promoting respect for freedom of religion or belief.

The webinar will be co-hosted by the UN Global Compact’s Business for Peace platform together with the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RF&BF). It will explain how businesses can effectively incorporate religious freedom in their strategic business plans for the benefit of their stakeholders, their employees, and society and also highlight the positive contributions to peace these actions can have in the workplace, marketplace, and local communities. Finally, the webinar will also introduce a range of global initiatives that businesses and other stakeholders are welcome to join. REGISTER

Speakers include (all times are EDT, New York):

  • 8:00 – 8:05 – Overview of latest data on religious freedom and business (Brian Grim, President, Religious Freedom & Business Foundation)
  • 8:05 – 8:10 – Overview of UN Global Compact’s Business for Peace initiatives (Melissa Powell, Head, Business for Peace)
  • 8:10 – 8:15 – Business as a strategy to empower a religious minority – Dalits in Pakistan/Nepal (Katri Leino-Nzau, Director of Development, Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission)
  • 8:15 – 8:20 – Brazil: A case study in engaging businesses, government and civil society (Ricardo Leite, Esq., and President of Brazil’s Association of Religious Freedom & Business)
  • 8:20 – 8:25 – Brazil: An Open Society that’s Open for Business (Carlos Wizard Martins, Founder of the nearly billion dollar Wizard language Schools)
  • 8:25 – 8:30 – How to help corporations respect religious diversity (Joyce S. Dubensky, Esq. CEO TANENBAUM)
  • 8:30 – 8:35 – How can corporations better retain expat employees by standing up for religious freedom? (Greg Clark, Esq., and Vice President, Religious Freedom & Business Foundation)
  • 8:35 – 8:40 – Showcasing Religious Freedom and Business at the World Expo in Milan (Pasquale Annicchino, Ph.D., LL.M., Senior Research Fellow, , Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, and Research Fellow at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute)
  • 8:40 – 8:45 – Tibet: A Case Study in Economic and Social Integration (Otto Kölbl Université de Lausanne Faculté des lettres, section d’allemand)
  • 8:45 – 9:00 – Q&A, and Other Opportunities to Engage, including: 2015 Forum in Milan; 2016 Global Awards in Rio; Global Opportunity-Matching Database

Brazil to host major events on Religious Freedom & Business

13 May, 2014
PRESS RELEASE – Brazil to host major events on religious freedom & business May 13-23, 2014, including a global webinar from Sao Paulo, Brazil’s commercial capital on May 21, and a forum in the capital, Brasilia, at the Congress on May 19.

l

Join Us for a GOBAL WEBINAR: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM EDT

Religious freedom enables business to be more productive. This webinar will review research and provide information about this relationship while offering concrete ways for the business community to collaborate with government and non-governmental organizations in promoting respect for freedom of religion or belief.

The webinar will be co-hosted by the UN Global Compact’s Business for Peace platform together with the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation. It will explain how businesses can effectively incorporate religious freedom in their strategic business plans for the benefit of their stakeholders, their employees, and society and also highlight the positive contributions to peace these actions can have in the workplace, marketplace, and local communities.  Finally, the webinar will also introduce a range of global initiatives that businesses and other stakeholders are welcome to join. REGISTER


More than 600 registered to attend event in Brazil’s Congress, May 19

6657312

In Mexico, doors open for Foundation’s work

11 May, 2014
The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s work in sustainable economic development for religious minorities, help for business executives to engage on religious freedom, and a certificate coursein religious freedom & business received enthusiastic interest in Mexico last week, as Foundation President Grim held a series of meetings with key audiences.

4868145

ACADEMICS: The Foundation discussed the ways academics can contribute to the Foundation’s sustainable development projects and the certificate course with representatives from two of Mexico’s leading Universities, Monterey Technical Institute, and the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Grim has previously lectured for Monterey Tech as part of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation’s Faith & Globalization Initiative.

SOCIETY: The Foundation met with the Fundación Incluyendo México (Inclusive Foundation of Mexico) a foundation working for a sustainable and prosperous Mexico as well as the world at large, focusing on vulnerable communities and families. The Fundación Incluyendo has a broad network of business and civic leaders that are looking to engage in practical projects directed to these ends. The Fundación Incluyendo works with people of all faiths, including with the LDS Church in Mexico, which helped organize the meetings.

GOVERNMENT: Grim also met with several government leaders, including with Dr. Arturo Manuel Diaz Leon, Director General of Religious Associations, the Mexican agency that manages relations between the Mexican government and religious associations.

The Foundation anticipates further work in Mexico, beginning with a planning meeting in September 2014 and a forum in February/March 2015 to work on a sustainable business project that helps increase interfaith understanding and peace in southern Mexico, where traditional communities and newer faiths sometimes experience tensions and conflict.

For a summary of the religious freedom situation in Mexico, see the 2012 CSW report.

Webinar: Religious Freedom is Good for Business

7 May, 2014
Wednesday, May 21, 2014 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM EDT

l

Religious freedom enables business to be more productive. This webinar will review research and provide information about this relationship while offering concrete ways for the business community to collaborate with government and non-governmental organizations in promoting respect for freedom of religion or belief.

The webinar will be co-hosted by the UN Global Compact’s Business for Peace platform together with the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation. It will explain how businesses can effectively incorporate religious freedom in their strategic business plans for the benefit of their stakeholders, their employees, and society and also highlight the positive contributions to peace these actions can have in the workplace, marketplace, and local communities.  Finally, the webinar will also introduce a range of global initiatives that businesses and other stakeholders are welcome to join.REGISTER

Call for Nominations of For-Profit Businesses Engaged in Promoting Inter-Faith Understanding and Peace

3 May, 2014
FRO IMMEDIATE RELASE – MAY 3, 2014 – l

The UN Global Compact’s Business for Peace platform and the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation call for nominations of businesses that have advanced interfaith understanding and peace through their core business and/or outreach activities to be highlighted in new resource/publication.

Deadline for nominations is May 23, 2014.

Building on the common objectives of the Business for Peace platform and the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, these organizations are collaborating to develop a new resource/publication. This project will provide case studies that expand existing research showing that religious freedom leads to peace, stability, global competitiveness, and better business environments for majorities and minorities alike, including for women.

The resource will profile approximately 5 examples of how companies have taken action to advance inter-religious understanding and peace. Relevant examples will be drawn from multiple regions of the world and from a variety of business sectors.

  • Eligibility: Any company with ten or more employees that has taken concrete steps to address a challenge involving interfaith understanding or peace, ideally, as part of their core business, or alternatively through community outreach (see examples).
  • Recommended: Companies participating in the UN Global Compact’s Business for Peace platform and that also indicate willingness to be part of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s RFB Global Network will be considered first. (Also see main nominations page.)
  • Deadline: Nominations must be received by May 23, 2014.

The case study project will also help set standards for the RF&B Foundation’s Biennial Religious Freedom & Business Global Awards. See NOMINATIONS for more information.

The Nuclear Option – Seminar on Religious Freedom & Business at Russia’s Nuclear University

3 May, 2014
PRESS RELEASE: May 3 2014

6937934Strikhanov and Grim, Moscow

As the conflict on the border of Russia and Ukraine dominates world headlines, scholars from both countries made their way to the National Nuclear Research University in Moscow for an unprecedented event – an international seminar on religious demography, religious freedom and business.

Behind the gates of the high security institution lie innovations in religion and public life that made news before the April 30 seminar. Within the nuclear science university, its head, Rector Mikhail Strikhanov (pictured above), established a department of theology. By his account, the department helps provide ethical and spiritual input for the future top scientists of the nation so that nuclear science develops for the good of humanity. Some, however, argued that religion had no place in the halls of science.

The department is chaired by Metropolitan Hilarion, the head of external relations for the Russian Orthodox Church and, by some accounts, the number two figure in the Church. Staff in the department include physicists who, after graduating from the university, became priests and monks in the church.

Within this unique context, Dr. Brian Grim, a quantitative social scientist and president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, led a seminar hosted personally by the Nuclear University’s rector. This full-day seminar was the culmination of a series of lectures on religious freedom’s relationship to social and economic outcomes at Moscow’s two leading institutions – Higher School of Economics.

These lectures and seminars are part of the Society, Religion, and Science Lecture Series, co-sponsored by the Postgraduate School of the Russian Orthodox Church  and the University of St. Thomas. They are organized by Rev. Vladimir Shmaliy, Dr. Iryna Khromets, and Dr. Dmitry Uzlaner. The lecture series brings prominent international scholars to Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Kiev.

Grim is not a newcomer to the region. He previously directed economic development projects in Soviet Central Asia during the final years of the USSR, and more recently lectured in the first international demographic conference hosted by the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. He is also a contributor to the forthcoming Russian Encyclopedia of World Religion.

For more information or interviews, contact the RF&B Foundation.