Working for workplace religious diversity, equity & inclusion


Nicholson and Makhzoumi Honored at Historic Westminster Hall

31 Oct, 2016

westminster-hall-awardsLast week in historic Westminster Hall, UK Parliament, we presented medals to two Business & Interfaith Peace award-winners who couldn’t make it to the Rio ceremony: Baroness Emma Nicholson (pictured on right) and Dr. Fouad Makhzoumi (pictured on left) with RFBF President Brian Grim.

The Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards recognize business leaders – current or past CEOs – who have demonstrated leadership in championing interfaith understanding, religious freedom and peace. The Awards are a partnership initiative of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RFBF), and the United Nations Global Compact Business for Peace (B4P) platform, with collaboration from the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations.

The inaugural Awards were held in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday, Sept. 6, a day before the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Paralympic Games. The next awards will be given in Seoul, Korea, ahead of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Paralympics. The 2016 winners come from a variety of religious backgrounds and manage companies and enterprises in the U.S., Indonesia, Mozambique, Uganda, Brazil, Britain, Lebanon and Iraq. Today we are here to honor two of the seven 2016 medalists who were unable to join us in Rio: Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, and Dr. Fouad Mahzoumi.

The jury for this prestigious Award was comprised of a small group of high-level experts, including from the United Nations (H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations); the religious freedom community (Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice, and a former head of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom); and the business & peace community (Per L. Saxegaard, Business CEO, anRFBF_BIPAwards_Web_Bannerd Founder and Executive Chairman of the Business for Peace Foundation, Oslo, Norway).

H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, High Representative United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and one of the judges of the event, noted at the Awards that “Today, we are launching the First Edition of the Global Business and Interfaith Peace Awards, with the conviction that the business sector, the religious community and the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations are important actors in ‘promoting peaceful and inclusive societies’. The businessmen and women who will accept this award today are those who have demonstrated strong leadership and have integrated the Sustainable Development Goals and interfaith understanding and peace into their business. … This award recognizes those who have taken an initiative to use their business as a platform for promoting positive change and tolerance in our society.”

Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne

Driven by religious intolerance and radical fundamentalism, ISIS (Daesh) has decimated the economies of both the Syrian and Iraqi nations, displaced millions from their homes, and acted as the hateful catalyst behind the genocide of Yazidis and other religious minorities. Violence from ISIS has left many survivors in need of medical care, shelter, and other common necessities. Baroness Nicholson, head of the Iraq Britain Business Council and the AMAR Foundation, oversees trade, investment, training and the transfer of technology to Iraq. With the support of local governments, Baroness Nicholson has led the cause of helping displaced Iraqi women, regardless of faith or ethnicity, to cope with the horrendous atrocities of war, providing mental and physical health treatment and offering resources for recreation, education, and vocational training. For this work, which spans decades, the United Nations and the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation are honored to award you this medal of the Inaugural Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards.

Dr. Fouad Makhzoumi

During a 15-year civil war, many youth in Lebanon forewent their education as they became increasingly involved with religious fundamentalism, leading to unemployment and economic stagnation. Fouad Makhzoumi, CEO of Future Pipes Industries Group Limited, witnessed how his late son’s youthful energy and cross-cultural savvy triggered exponential growth as his son provided a positive vision for productive and socially responsible business. Makhzoumi and his foundation have helped empower thousands by harnessing this same youthful enthusiasm for entrepreneurship and religious freedom. His microcredit training for Lebanese people of all faiths has helped over 10,000 individuals set up sustainable businesses, and hundreds of thousands more are receiving vocational training. For this work, which also spans decades, the United Nations and the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation are honored to award you this medal of the Inaugural Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards.