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Monthly Archives: December 2017

Helsinki: Promoting Freedom of Religion or Belief Through Business

26 Dec, 2017

translated from Finnish by Google Translate

Brian Grim, Director of the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation (RFBF), an NGO promoting freedom of religion or belief in business, visited Finland on 7-8 September, 2017, under the auspices of the Finnish Ecumenical Council. During the visit, Grim met with officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Syria Specialist Mission, FIBS representatives, a representative of the Peace Network for Traditional and Religious Operators of the Church, and officials of the Ministry of Employment and the Economy.

Brian Grim has previously created the World Religious Freedom Report of the Pew Research Center with its research methods. Read the latest report here. Subsequently, inspired by the Fellowship Society, he began to look for practical methods to promote religious freedom. This was the creation of the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation.

Business promises, business leaders who promote peace between religions and empowerment

Religious Freedom and Business Foundation The RFBF has had several projects, most notably the Corporate Pledge, Global Awards, Empowerment +, Research and High-Level Forums . The promise of an undertaking commits the companies to make a promise that promises their actions to take and promote the freedom of religion or belief. Global prizes are awarded to business leaders who have successfully promoted understanding and peace between religions in conjunction with both summer and winter Olympics. In 2018, the awards will be held in South Korea during the Paralympic Games.

In theEmpowerment + Project in England, Manchester, religious leaders mentored socially excluded young people and immigrant youth, together with other coaches, in working life. This course teaches work life skills, entrepreneurship, social service and respect for the different religions. For example, when the Muslim leader is driven by a Jewish successful businessman, the desire to learn lies ahead of the prejudiced ideas. This is how the young person grows up to respect other religions.

At the end of the course, young people set up small businesses, such as eating wagons. As a social service, the courtiers had cleaned in the area of ​​the hated mosque courtyard, with pesky picks. A key part of the course is to learn to use one’s religion as a spiritual resource, not as an instrument of hatred and violence.

The program also includes a Launching Leaders course, where future leaders, ie students, are bred to leadership and the encounter of religions. Empowerment + course materials are also available for use in other countries. The project was widely featured in discussions with the KUA’s Traditional and Religious Operators Peace Network Representative.

Religions appear in everyday business

Brian Grim arrived in Finland directly from Brussels, where he was speaking at the European Parliament’s two-day seminar. The corporate responsibility was discussed at the seminar. Contrary to what many people often think, many companies have a lot of experience not to encounter religions, to arrange working conditions in multi-faceted workplaces, and to different social responsibility issues. Often, business life requires only a different approach to what human rights experts are accustomed to. However, the international big companies involved in the seminar had realized that taking into account the everyday circumstances of religious freedom (religious dress, religious activity, religious holidays), the whole business function went better and the employees committed themselves to motivated work.

In the Corporate Responsibility Network FIBS Grim discussed, among others, how businesses can operate in religious or religious beliefs and in countries with strong human rights, while retaining their conscience about responsible behavior. Where is the point to be stretched, where are the boundaries drawn? Together, it was concluded that it would be good to organize the subject of training and joint reflection events. It is also interesting how businesses can, through their business activities, promote freedom of religion or belief in society and those who suffer from religious freedom, this important element of the RFBF agenda.

Meetings at ministries

In the Foreign Ministry, human rights and business are a rising theme. Many Finnish diplomatic missions around the world are oriented towards promoting Finnish trade and other business activities. It was therefore refreshing to talk about how freedom of religion and business foster each other, and what kind of innovative projects there is in this area.

Integration experts were met at the Ministry of Employment and the Economy. Together, we considered why religions still play a role in our society and how they are reflected in the ministry’s work. At the same time, the need for religious literacy and freedom of religion or belief were discussed. Grim presented RFBF projects, which could also benefit the ministry’s work.

Youth employment

There was talk of a variety of issues with the Syria Specialist. The leading theme was the employment of immigrant youth, which was again linked to the Empowerment + project. Ideas and experiences changed swiftly at the dinner table.

From theory to practice

The best way to understand RFBF was to become acquainted with its creative inventiveness, with the organization developing entirely new ways to promote human rights. Experts tend to think things through difficult theoretical or international terms of contract. RFBF is in violation of these boundaries with their concrete, work-oriented and popular projects.

Meet the Finalists: 2018 Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards

17 Dec, 2017

The 2018 Global Business & Interfaith Awards recognize business leaders – current or past CEOs – who have demonstrated leadership in championing interfaith understanding and peace. The Awards are an initiative of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation in collaboration with the United Nations Global Compact Business for Peace (B4P) platform, the Global Compact Network Korea and the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations.

The 2018 Awards will be given in Seoul, Korea, on March 8, 2018, the day before the opening of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Paralympics. The Awards support UN Sustainable Development Goal 16: “Promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”

From a field of nominees representing 25 countries on all six inhabitable continents — business CEOs (and former CEOs) will be presented medals for their work in advancing interfaith understanding and peace through one of four avenues: (1) Advocacy and public policy engagement, (2) Core business, (3) Partnerships and collective action, and (4) Social investment and philanthropy. Gold, Silver, Bronze ad High Honors medals will be awarded in each category.


Advocacy and public policy engagement

Mr. Joon Myung CHOI, Founding Chairman of YOJIN Construction & Engineering, ensures his employees are free from religious discrimination and free to believe in their own faith. He also is an active supporter of interfaith understanding and peace initiatives for decades, including now as Board Chairman of Won Buddhism United Region Foundation, with interfaith activity at its core.

Escaping with his life from ethno-religious riots in Indonesia, Mr. Sumartono ‘Martono’ Hadinoto, owner of CANDI aluminium building materials company, takes a leading role in organizing humanitarian and socioeconomic initiatives as well as intercultural programs, such as the annual Solo Imlek Festival, that bring people together so that such religious and ethnic violence might never happen again.

Mr. Steve Killelea, Executive Chairman and Founder of Integrated Research and of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), has shifted the paradigm in how the world thinks about peace. Using data-driven research, Steve shows that peace is a positive, tangible and achievable goal. The World Bank, the United Nations and many others use IEP’s research which has helped, among other things, dispel misconceptions about religion’s role in conflict. Steve also funds a growing number of projects advancing interfaith understanding and peace.

H.E. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, President of Zayed University and former CEO of Tejari, is a powerful force behind the UAE Pledge of Religious Tolerance adopted by government, civil society and business leaders. She not only works hand-in-hand with local Muslim, Christian, Hindu and Sikhs groups, but also with global political leaders and religious figures such as Pope Francis, helping the UAE become a world leader in interfaith action.

Core business

Mr. Haidar Bagir, President Director of the Mizan Group, contributes to interfaith understanding and peace in Indonesia in multiple ways: publishing books championing pluralism; supporting Charter for Compassion International; funding Yasmin Foundation, a Salvation Army-like charity; advising on peace education; and leading the Compassionate Islam Movement, which galvanizes and mobilizes moderate Muslims in the face of increasing extremism and inter-religious tensions in the country.

Mr. Nerdah Bo Mya, President and Founder Karen Enterprises, a company in eastern Myanmar, is leading an international effort to attract responsible investment and to drive sustainable and inclusive business initiatives to stabilize peace in the Karen region of Myanmar through entrepreneurship and business. Now that conflict has ceased, Nerdah is working to bring in the economic pillars that can consolidate the peace.

Under the UK Chairman Steve Varley’s leadership, EY (UK) has created a first-of-its-kind online program, Religious Literacy for Organizations. The program uses the tagline “turning tolerance into respect” and can help businesses worldwide advance interfaith understanding and peace. And EY puts it to practice, earning the #1 slot on DiversityInc’s 2017 diversity and inclusiveness list.

Mr. Mark Woerde, Founder Havas Lemz and, believes he can make the world a better place through advertising. This year his team advanced interfaith understanding and peace in a global campaign featuring the world’s most prominent religious leaders – from Pope Francis to Ayatollahs, Chief Rabbis and Hindu Swamis – making a joint appeal to “Make Friends Across Religions.”

Partnership and collective action

Mr. Bambang Ismawan founded Bina Swadaya, which through its 15 companies and training arms has helped about one million Indonesian Community Based Organizations, each with membership of 25 people or more, become self-reliant. Working across faith lines, Bambang Ismawan has built the largest network of people and organizations working to eliminate poverty, build interfaith understanding and peace in Indonesia, the country with the world’s largest Muslim population.

Mr. Al Jubitz, Founder & former President of DAT Services, co-founded and currently funds the Rotarian Action Group For Peace with members in 71 countries. The Action Group works with Rotary International to develop and support peace projects around the world to enhance and enrich lives of people from all walks of life, races, cultures and religions. Rotary International has raised over $142 million for peacebuilding missions.

Mr. Jeyul MUN, CEO of Unam International Inc., is a signatory of the Corporate Pledge on Freedom of Religion or Belief. Mr. Mun is working to have 30 Korean CEOs sign and implement the Pledge. He is a board member and active supporter of Love in Lights, an interfaith NGO bringing solar lighting to impoverished regions in Cambodia, the Philippines, Columbia, Kenya, Mongolia and Indonesia.

Former Dell Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Ms. Ingrid Vanderveldt, has the audacious goal of by 2020 empowering a billion women from all faiths to work together to achieve more, give more and accomplish more. She believes that the relationship between women in business and this mission is sustainable and helps women leaders worldwide to pursue unity, love and peace.

Social investment and philanthropy

Inspired by her own faith and working among the blind in Tibet, Ms. CAI Shiyin founded of Dialogue in the Dark in China. Through activities such as supporting the first blind runner to complete the Boston Marathon, she is changing society’s prejudices against blind/deaf and all other marginalized groups, and providing job opportunities with dignity to the marginalized.

Mr. Steve Hitz, former CEO of U.S. Reports, promotes interfaith action and peace through Launching Leaders Worldwide Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides a personal development and leadership experience for a new generation. Piloted in New Zealand and scaling up globally, it moves beyond dialogue to interfaith action, helping participants of different faiths create plans for their lives, and reach out through interfaith service projects.

Mr. Carlos Wizard Martins, President of Sforza Holding, encourages his employees to bring their whole self to work – faith and all. Globally, Carlos is a vocal proponent of religious freedom as a member of the 2014-16 World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Faith, and at home, helping to fund Brazil’s 2015 Religious Freedom Festival in Latin America’s oldest mosque.

Mr. Leardo Ravaioli, CEO of lighting company Ghisamestieri, worked with Italian Rotary Clubs and faith leaders to bring sustainable sources of water, food, education, and light (through solar power) to people of all faiths in Sierra Leone after its civil war. His interfaith commitment continues as his company sponsored Italy’s first annual interfaith festival in 2017.

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BREAKING NEWS: Global Business & Peace Symposium and Awards to be held at start of PyeongChang Winter Paralympics

17 Dec, 2017


IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Seoul, Korea: On March 7-8, 2018, the days before the opening ceremony of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Paralympics, international business, government and civil society leaders will gather in Seoul Korea for the second biannual Global Business & Interfaith Peace Symposium and Awards. The symposium will show to a global audience – in the spirit of the Paralympics – that peace is achievable.

These leaders from around the world will exchange experiences with their Korean counterparts on lessons learned from advancing peace and intercultural understanding through business. Together they will offer ideas on the current crisis with North Korea as well as on other regional and global threats to peace and human flourishing.

At the Symposium beginning on March 7th, business leaders from across the globe will have a real opportunity to speak out in support of peace at a time of heightened tensions in Asia. Indeed, Korea is actively promoting this as the “Peace Olympics.”

“Many people worry about the current crisis on the Korean peninsula,” said Dr. Sunggon Kim, the 2018 Awards Executive Director and one of the jurors. “Thus, the Global Business & Peace Awards right before 2018 PyeongChang Winter Paralympics in Korea is a very timely and meaningful event for peace in this area. It will show the world how business people are important in building peace,” said Dr. Kim.

The inaugural Symposium and Awards were held at the start of the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. “It is especially appropriate to hold the Symposium in the context of the Paralympics given that these Games highlight human triumphs over adversity, including athletes overcoming disabilities stemming from war and conflict,” said Brian Grim, President of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation.

In addition to honoring Korean business leaders who’ve had initiatives to advance peace with North Korea, business CEO nominees (incl. former CEOs) — from a field of nominees representing 25 countries on all six inhabitable continents — will be presented medals for their work in advancing interfaith understanding and peace through one of four avenues: (1) Advocacy and public policy engagement, (2) Core business, (3) Partnerships and collective action, and (4) Social investment and philanthropy. Gold, Silver and Bronze medals will be awarded in each category.

Peace Medalists and other dignitaries will then travel to PyeongChang, South Korea, on March 9th for the opening ceremonies of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Paralympic Games, which follow the Winter Olympic Games.

Meet the Finalists who will receive, Gold, Silver, Bronze and High Honors Peace Medals on March 8, in Seoul.

The symposium will specifically look at lessons learned by Korean companies affiliated with the Global Compact Network Korea’s Business for Peace initiative, many of whom had experience in the Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea that was closed earlier this year.

The Symposium and Awards are an initiative of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation in collaboration with the Global Compact Network Korea, the Business for peace platform of the United Nations Global Compact, and the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. The initiative was started in tandem with the Business for Peace initiative of former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who now serves as honorary chairman of the Global Compact Network Korea.

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Brian Grim Speaks at Forum on Peace in Muslim Societies, UAE

8 Dec, 2017

The Emirati capital of Abu Dhabi is due to host the fourth round of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies December 11-13 . The Forum is held under the patronage of Emirati Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Brian Grim, president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, will speak on the theme of “Islam & the Wider World: Ways to Rapprochement and Solidarity.”

Organized during the period from December 11 until December 13 under the theme of Global Peace and the Fear of Islam: Countering the Spread of Extremism, the fourth round of the forum will be chaired by Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, President of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies and chief architect of the Marrakesh Declaration.

It will be attended by senior officials, ministers of Islamic countries, and high-level scholars, decision-makers, intellectuals and media figures who will discuss the role of violence in the dialectic between religion and identity, the root instigations that have caused fear in the global populous of Islam, and the development of strategies that need to take place for Islam to reintegrate harmoniously with the wider society in the modern climate.