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Monthly Archives: September 2019

Summary of the first international religious freedom coalition business roundtable

26 Sep, 2019

  • Wednesday, September 25, 2019
  • Harvard Club of New York City

A direct result of RFBF’s groundbreaking work on religious freedom and business was the Sept. 23rd call at the start of the 2019 United Nations General Assembly for a coalition of businesses to protect religious freedom. Two days after this call, RFBF cohosted the first international religious freedom coalition business roundtable together with US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback and Mr. Bruce McEver, Founder and Chairman of Berkshire Global Advisors.

The event featured a discussion on the relationship between religious freedom and economic prosperity with Ambassador Brownback and State Department Chief Economist Sharon Brown-Hruska, who sat down with business leaders, government officials and civil society representatives to discuss ways to incentivize countries to ease restrictions on religious freedom in hopes to realize their economic aspirations. This event was open to the press.

  1. 1. Presentation by Dr. Brian J. Grim
  2. 2. Presentation by Dr. Sharon Brown Hruska
  3. 3. Opening Words by Ambassador Brownback
  4. 4. Suggestions from Business Leaders and heads of NGOs

I. Presentation by Dr. Brian J. Grim

Bruce McEver, founder and chairman of Berkshire Global Advisors and co-founder and president of The Foundation for Religious Literacy offered words of welcome, after which Dr. Brian J. Grim, president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, offered a scholarly presentation. His research showed that countries with decreasing restrictions on religious freedom had the best economic growth and vice versa; on how religious liberty is linked to economic growth; and how countries with higher religious freedom have higher support for LGBT rights.

Grim invited all to the Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards event in Tokyo August 23-25, 2020, where we will hold the first annual International Business Roundtable on Protecting People of all Faiths and Beliefs in the Workplace in response to President Trump’s call.

See Grim’s PPT

II. Presentation by Dr. Sharon Brown Hruska

The Chief Economist for the U.S. Department of State, Dr. Sharon Brown-Hruska, gave a prepared speech about the correlation of economic prosperity and religious freedom rights.

The State Department’s Chief Economist Dr. Sharon Brown-Hruska introduced her comments to the Roundtable by noting that her belief in free and open markets to facilitate price discovery and send signals to balance supply and demand is akin to her belief that “our basic freedoms, including religious freedom, play critical roles in generating economic prosperity.” She added, “As an economist, I understand correlation and causality are not the same. The empirical relationship between economic growth and religious freedom is an area worthy of further study.”

Dr. Brown-Hruska cited Theodore Roosevelt Malloch, who conducted a survey of a hundred countries and territories that found that religious freedom correlates strongly and significantly with Freedom House’s civil and political liberties indices, ‘Reporters Without Borders’ press freedom index, and the Heritage/WSJ scale of freedom from corruption index. Brown-Hruska noted that, “from an economics perspective, Mallock found that the level of earned income for women, measured in purchasing power parity dollars, goes down 57% as government restrictions on religious freedom go up, along with a 54% decline for men. Further, countries that restrict religious freedom tend to have poor economic records over a number of measures. For example, religious restrictions are also vary inversely with economic development metrics including having 25% fewer physicians, a 43% higher infant mortality, and a 29% higher percentage of underweight children. In sum, countries with higher levels of freedom have correspondingly higher measures of economic development.”

She also noted that studies by Brian Grim (2015 and 2008, Pew Research Center 2014b) confirm that countries with higher religious freedom offer better economic well-being to their citizens. Dr. Christos Makridis, who is joining the State Department from the Counsel of Economic Advisors, compiled a dataset of 150 countries spanning 2006-2018.  Christos found that “while there are significant cross-country differences in religious liberty, it has declined considerably across countries, particularly among more developed countries. He also finds that increases in religious freedom are associated with robust and causal increases in economic measures of human flourishing. Brown-Hruska noted that, “These results suggest that religious liberty does have causal effects when one constructs and evaluates measures of economic development and welfare, confirming Brian Grim’s work, among others.”

III. Opening Words by Ambassador Brownback

Ambassador Sam Brownback, the U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, offered informal, brief opening words. He reflected upon his time in the U.S. Senate when the primary mechanism for promoting religious freedom abroad was “finger wagging.” He explained that approach was not always effective and that, now that he’s in this new role, he was looking for alternative strategies. He opened the floor to solicit suggestions from business leaders.

IV. Suggestions from Business Leaders

Leaders offered the following suggestions:

CEOs have a critical role in setting a tone in the entire company. This includes, making it explicit that the business must support a robust holiday schedule, ensuring that global companies respect and uplift culture-specific contexts, regardless of the religions practiced in those regions. This approach is good for employee morale, good for customer relations, and good for economic returns.

Another leader suggested that the Golden Rule should be at the heart of all business decisions, aware that it’s a value affirmed by many of the world’s religions.

Recommendation to use the “non-flick” method for interfaith engagement in businesses. This begins by identifying what religions have in common based on the leadership competency of understanding self and other. The purpose is to ensure that everyone is respected and safe to be themselves. The next step is to understand one another’s perceptions of realities/contexts that we deal with on a daily basis, then visualizing our ideal shared reality, bringing out best in another and working to promote freedom, security, and prosperity for everyone.

The former U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom (Suzan Johnson Cook) spoke of the organization, Women on the World Stage, for the purpose of multicultural peace building. Told a story of how employees cover for one another during various holidays, aware of how important it is for one another’s colleagues to practice their customs/culture. She gave an example of interfaith partnerships in New York City, where religious leaders from a variety of traditions not just know one another professionally and share one another’s pulpits and attend one another’s social events, but they learn together and they know one another’s families and are invested in one another’s personal lives.

Another business leader spoke of the importance for her as CEO to conduct surprise site visits in her factors to ensure compliance with humane working conditions. Her company invested hundreds of thousands of dollars on tough human rights clauses in business contracts that would ensure fair and humane workplaces. If broken, business leaders can bring a global spotlight on human rights abuses. We need not shy away from countries where abuse is ramped, but we must respond with moral engagement, forcing compliance to human rights protections and environmental-friendly business choices.

A concern was expressed about how technology can result in human alienation, creating virtual and real distance in humanity. How can businesses help create deeper understanding among people with whom we are working?

Another business leader expressed concern about the “heckler’s veto”—when someone is offended when a person mentions Jesus, then all Christians are out. He asserted that everyone can’t be stopped because one heckler doesn’t like it.

A Sufi Muslim leader explained that the Quran speaks of God dividing humans into nation and tribes for the purpose of knowing one another. He said that this includes religious people and those who do not believe in a divine entity. All people are equal. The purpose is to communicate honestly, compassionately, with empathy—all of these virtues are good for business.

A business leader spoke of the value of her company creating faith-based networks, diversity groups within their global company. Similar to other affinity groups based on race or sexual orientation, they have formed faith-based employee affinity group for Muslims, Jews, Christians. There are not 3,500 members across all chapters in the global company. How has it been received by employees? Overwhelmingly positive. Employees feel they can bring their whole selves to work. This informed me personally, the leader said, resulting in me taking a job with our company over other job offers—I wanted to work for a company that protected and valued the religious identity of its employees, she said. What is the ultimate purpose of these groups? Knowledge cancels out fear. Companies have to have knowledge of how religion plays out in the everyday lives of its employees. This is not without limits. We follow the laws in ensuring that we do not promote religion. There’s no proselytizing — our business is not a church. Also, our company cannot create a religious test for business. We promote equal opportunity. No preference to any one religion or nonreligion. No bible thumping.

A leader told a story of how an employee donated sixteen cases of Bibles and left them in lunchroom. Rather than forbid it or endorse its distribution, company attorneys let it be an expression of the employees not a company endorsement of any one religion. The Bibles were all taken by employees within an hour, but this distribution did not occur again. It was neither hindered nor privileged. The question for the legal team was how to navigate these legal questions about religion in the workplace.

At the United Nations Global Compact Network, we seek to understand how religious freedom is not only a legal term, but also a call to another form of freedom: to better understanding the other. The Muslim community, in Indonesia for examples, is the largest population in the country; and yet, that majority choose on its own not to create an Islamic state. Why? Because many religions were involved in creating the country. There is tremendous diversity within Islam and between other religious traditions, with many cultures and ethnicities, with over 300 dialects in the nation. The majority did not seek to force religious uniformity but to protect everyone equally. In Islam, there is a religious basis for being friendly across religions. This is true for businesses, too. Building friendships is the ultimate goal: to work together in a company you build collegial relationships which become lasting friendships with people across traditions that you would not otherwise have in religiously-segregated neighborhoods. Businesses create an encounter with people of different religions.  As a result, every holiday is celebrated in businesses in Indonesia—Christmas, Eid, you name it, everyone is involved. There are six government holidays honoring the major holidays of major religions: Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, etc. Companies provide transportation for employees to attend their holiday celebrations. Some attend to learn about one another’s religions. It is not just tolerance of one another but the promotion of good relations between diverse employees.

Religions have also helped people with no birth certificates gain documentation. In Indonesia we found that couples who had been together for decades had children together because they were not legally married; as a result, their children were not given birth certificates—there people not recognized as people in their own country. Interfaith groups to help them get these documents by performing mass marriages, where people one Muslim couple got married next to someone who was Hindu, and the other couple next to them was Buddhist. Parents were married: this is how business leaders worked with religious groups to help give kids birth certificates and become documented citizens.

India is the largest democracy and in a few years will be the largest population in the world. A leader expressed that his family is Muslim in a Hindu majority country. The ruling party is currently a nationalistic Hindu party. India’s Constitution allows religious freedom by law but not in practice. In response, business leaders are sponsoring conferences to bring people together. For instance, the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University is doing a tremendous job studying India’s constitution—using the results to inform the government’s pathways forward. Use these types of organizations help, in a peaceful way, influence leaders in the country. The business leaders and conference leaders are not there to change the politicians or to convert them to a religion but to influence them through education, teach them in a peaceful way.

Unlike Davos, that is only focused on economics, the international Horasis conference includes religious leaders, aware the in order for businesses to thrive there has to be religious freedom in the workplace to promote greater harmony together. Our goal is to demonstrate how to thrive and flourish through peaceful coexistence.

A concern was expressed that political correctness hinders freedom. We need to end political correctness in order to change media. Not to be afraid to bring God, religion, Bible or the Quran to our business meetings.

A discussion was had of the country of Guyana, with its new oil discoveries. Each celebrate one another’s religious holidays. Soon to become the new Kuwait, there are a lot of business opportunities in this oil rich country in South America. A story was shared about how individual religious people who were leaders of companies there negotiated with and worked with two ambassadors and leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The purpose was to ensure that the country’s ecclesial leaders were not the only ones represented but that business leaders and people of other religions were included in an otherwise hostile country. The purpose was to invite the business leaders in the country, invite them and solicit their help, to solve government conflicts.

A thought experiment was posed, asking whether the government can incentivize religious freedom in the workplace by creating a tax bracket if they met certain legal guidelines for protecting religious freedom? Would this help advance religious freedom either internally or externally? A respondent countered this suggestion saying that we should give to Caesar what is Caesar and to God what is Gods.

A business leader also spoke of the importance of their decision to create faith-based employee groups. He found that there was less tension in the workplace because people got to know one another better. There was a closeness among colleagues. Muslims attending a Passover event to learn about it. Christians embracing atheists and vice versa. The company culture can be an ecosystem where diversity programs can help people flourish together.

A business leader expressed wonder in how far interfaith liberty has moved in business since he’s been in business. He expressed the importance of the Golden rule, a central theme of the sermon of the mount, right in the middle of the beatitudes. It’s a great way of doing business. Better to leave something on the table during negotiations, better to serve return customers, because good deals benefit all.

It was also expressed that there was a silencing of the “R” word—we don’t say religion because we are afraid. But in reality, religion is a huge part of human consciousness. Both government and businesses have to set the example for doing the right thing, like the Muslim leader from Indonesia who earlier spoke of protecting everyone.

Concluding comments emphasized that the goal is to love thy enemy. I can tolerate you today, but I may not tolerate you tomorrow. The bar has to be raised, to something higher, such as respect, at least, if not love.

All expressed interest in working with the new coalition of businesses on this issue, emphasizing that this coalition will include people of all faiths and people of no faith, stating that atheists, too, want their freedom protected. We can protect one another, creating new partnerships across the private and public sectors.

Religious Freedom and Business Roundtable Event

26 Sep, 2019

On September 25, from 4:30–6:30 p.m. at the Harvard Club in New York City, Ambassador Brownback will co-host a business roundtable with Dr. Brian Grim, President of the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation and Mr. Bruce McEver, Founder and Chairman of Berkshire Global Advisors.  The event that will feature a discussion on the relationship between religious freedom and economic prosperity.

Brian Grim – slides AMB Brownback Business Roundtable Sept 25 2019

Ambassador Brownback and Chief Economist Sharon Brown-Hruska will sit down with business leaders, government officials and civil society representatives to discuss ways to incentivize countries to ease restrictions on religious freedom in hopes to realize their economic aspirations.

This event is open to the press.  Please contact for more information and follow along with Ambassador Brownback’s engagement at UNGA on Twitter @IRF_Ambassador.

US to Launch Business Coalition to Protect Workers of All Faiths in the Workplace

23 Sep, 2019

Today, US President Donald Trump together with the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, the US Secretaries of Treasury and Commerce, Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Pompeo, and members of persecuted Muslim, Jewish and Christian minorities, announced the formation of a business coalition to protect the religious freedom rights of all faiths in the workplace. The President’s remarks included:

“This initiative will encourage the private sector to protect people of all faiths in the workplace.

The private sector has brilliant leadership. That’s why some of the people in this room are among the most successful men and women on earth. They know how things get done. They know how to take care of things. And they’re with us now for the first time to this extent. The first time ever.

We’re really honored to have you in the room. Great business leaders. Great people of strength.

Too often people in positions of power preach diversity while silencing, shunning or censoring the faithful. True tolerance means respecting the right of all people to express their deeply held religious beliefs.”

See full remarks.

Millionaires are fleeing countries with poor religious freedom

19 Sep, 2019

Innovative strength is more than twice as high in countries where governments respect freedom of religion or belief, according to research. One indicator of that is whether some of a country’s top entrepreneurs and successful business people stay in a country or leave it.

Bloomberg just published research showing which countries are losing or gaining millionaire through migration, with Australia gaining the most and China losing the most.

How does this compare with the level of government restrictions on religion and belief in a country?

It’s not surprising that China, the country with the highest government restrictions on religion – as measured by the Pew Research Center – is also losing the highest number of millionaires seeking freer, more secure opportunities elsewhere, such as Australia where religious freedom is protected.

Religious Freedom is in Harmony with SDGs

19 Sep, 2019

Religious freedom is not in conflict with other issues:

Women’s rights are more protected in countries with higher religious freedom (source)

Peace is more likely in countries protecting religious freedom. (source)

And, perhaps surprising to some, LGBT rights are more respected in countries with high religious freedom. (source)

Religious Freedom Spurs Global Economy

19 Sep, 2019

As the world navigates away from years of poor economic performance, religious freedom may be an unrecognized asset to economic recovery and growth:

Religious freedom is one of only three factors significantly associated with global economic growth, according to a 2014 study. The study also showed 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. (source)

Since the 2008 financial crisis, GDP growth rates in populous countries where religious freedom increased grew at about double the rate as in countries where religious freedom decreased. (source)

America’s Economic Secret: Religious Freedom

19 Sep, 2019

Religious Freedom sets people of faith free to do good, and that’s worth a lot, as research on the US shows: 

Conservatively, religion annually contributes about $1.2 trillion to the U.S. economy, which would make the U.S. religious economy the world’s 15th largest national economy, putting it ahead of about 180 other countries. It’s more than the annual revenues of the world’s top 10 tech companies, including Apple, Amazon and Google. And it’s also more than 50% larger than that of the annual global revenues of America’s 6 largest oil and gas companies. So, you might say, that represents a lot of spiritually inspired fuel being pumped into the U.S. economy. (source)

Volunteer addiction recovery support groups meeting in congregations around the USA contribute $316.6 billion in benefit to the US economy every year at no cost to tax payers. And this represents only a portion of the faith-based work addressing the addiction crisis. (source)

New Study: How Faith is Indispensable in Preventing and Recovering from Substance Abuse

4 Sep, 2019


Key Findings: Faith Reduces Risk, Helps Long-Term Recovery — Provides $316 billion annually in savings to U.S. economy — Saves Lives

Authors Warn that Declining Religiosity is National Health Concern 

Public Perceptions that Religion Cannot Answer Today’s Problems Do Not Match Reality

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 5, 2019 — A new study authored by father-daughter research duo, Brian & Melissa Grim, and published in the Journal of Religion and Health looks at the role of religious and spiritual faith in preventing and recovering from substance use disorder.


At any given time, there are 20 million Americans afflicted with a substance use disorder (SUD). And tragically, each year, about 158,000 die from alcohol or drug-related deaths.  However, as we head further into National Recovery Month, one of the most effective tools to prevent and/or recover from addiction is often overlooked— faith. And when it comes to long-term recovery, faith-based programs are a driving force.

To view the full report, click here or a two-page summary, click here.

The study found that 73% of substance abuse treatment programs incorporate spiritual components such as 12-step programs. And congregations, through their support of recovery programs, provide $316 billion in savings to U.S. economy every year, the study shows.

“Belief, Behavior, and Belonging: How Faith is Indispensable in Preventing and Recovering from Substance Abuse” is the second in a series of studies from Faith Counts, a nonprofit, multifaith organization aimed at promoting the value of faith.

“In our review of hundreds of studies and extensive data, we found that religious beliefs, behaviors and belongings significantly reduce risk of substance use and significantly help recovery,” states Dr. Grim.

Dr. Grim also emphasizes, “while in the latest Gallup survey only 46% of Americans think that religion can answer today’s problems, the reality is that religion provides answers for one of

today’s biggest problems – addiction.” Part of the misperception revealed by Gallup is that fewer people are affiliated with religion today, resulting in less experience with faith and its positive impacts. Indeed, the study concludes that the decline in religious affiliation presents a growing national health concern because the growth of disaffiliation is concentrated among Millennials and young adults, who are also the highest percentage of any age group to have a substance abuse disorder. “In a sense, the antidote is being rejected by the very people who need it most,” said Dr. Grim.

The study looked at various data to see if there is any connection between religiosity and recovery and what it found was remarkable: Those with strong religious beliefs are as much as eight times less likely to use illegal drugs, and as much as five times less likely to binge drink.

Nearly 90% of studies find that faith reduces alcohol abuse risk and 84% of studies show faith reduces drug abuse risk, according to Dr. Grim’s research, while less than 2% show religion contributes to substance use disorders. It is clear that religion and spirituality—which the study refers to collectively as faith—are exceptionally powerful, integral, and indispensable resources in substance abuse prevention and recovery. Religious beliefs, practices, and ministries not only provide succor and solace to those in need; they provide tangible, valuable resources that can help prevent and address substance abuse.

Regarding the current opioid crisis, Dr. Grim is careful to point out that the study is primarily about prevention and long-term recovery from alcohol and certain types of drug addiction. He states, “It is important to note that the opioid crisis presents a different and unprecedented set of challenges that require a unique approach to treatment for substance use disorder that may include medication assisted treatment.” Grim also adds, “Indeed, I want to be very clear that we are not conflating recovery from alcohol and other narcotics with addressing the opioid crisis.”

While overall medical intervention for SUDs is life-saving and critical, this study shows that faith organizations are uniquely capable of providing the “wrap-around” care and community necessary for long-term recovery. Kerry Troup, communications director for Faith Counts, states, “We at Faith Counts see this study as yet another positive proof point of the tremendous social good that individuals and organizations of faith provide for society.”

The research shows that the efficacy of faith includes not only the behaviors people engage in (or don’t engage in) because of their faith and the support people find in their belonging to faith communities but also people’s religious and spiritual beliefs.

What others are saying about the study

“This study presents a comprehensive review of the literature on faith and substance use, and most importantly, provides a recent analysis of the SAMHSA database to determine the prevalence of faith-based substance abuse recovery programs and the tremendous cost savings that such programs provide to our country and health system.”

-Dr. Harold Koenig, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Associate Professor of Medicine, Director, Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University Medical Center

“Faith-based organizations work tirelessly to address difficult social problems like homelessness, crime, and prisoner reentry.  In spite of this fact, faith-based groups rarely receive recognition for their positive and valuable contributions. Brian Grim has done us all a big favor by producing a study that documents the enormous and beneficial impact of faith-based substance abuse programs.”

-Dr. Byron R. Johnson, Professor of Social Sciences and Director of the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University


External: Learn more about substance abuse resources for veterans with this useful guide.



Faith Counts is a nonprofit, multifaith organization with the sole mission to promote the value of faith. The centerpiece of Faith Counts is a social media campaign that tells powerful stories about how faith counts—how it inspires, empowers, motivates and comforts — and how faith is invaluable in helping to solve many of society’s problems.



Twitter: @MyFaithCounts

Faith Counts partners include a diverse faith community, including: The Salvation Army, Episcopal Migration Ministries, the Hindu American Foundation, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee for Religious Liberty, Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Hillel International, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the 1st Amendment Partnership, and the Franciscan University of Steubenville. All faith groups are welcome.


Brian Grim is a non-resident research scholar at the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University and president at the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation and has a doctorate from Penn State University. He previously was director of cross-national data at the Pew Research Center and a program director at universities in China, the former USSR, and the Middle East.

Melissa Grim, Brian’s daughter, is a senior researcher at the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation and has a master’s in theological studies from Boston University and a law degree from DePaul University in Chicago. Melissa was born in China, raised in the former Soviet Union, and graduated from high school in the Middle East.

The father-daughter duo are also coauthors of the first Faith Counts study, “The Socio-economic Contributions of Religion to American Society: An Empirical Analysis.” Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion, 12, 3.


Covenantal Pluralism: A More Perfect Union

3 Sep, 2019

“Covenantal Pluralism,” according to Chris Seiple, “entails the obligation, the responsibility, and intentional pledge to engage, respect, and protect the other’s liberty of conscience, without necessarily lending moral equivalency to the other’s resulting beliefs and behavior.”

He also argues that “Covenantal Pluralism requires a faithful patriotism that seeks an entrepreneurial competition—i.e., a cooperative competition that is loving, spirited, and constructive—that stands against the monopoly of religious nationalism. This Covenantal Pluralism, therefore, is not only the right thing to do, it is in everyone’s self-interest.”

“If we can pledge individually to respect, protect, and engage the other—without watering down our beliefs—then we can build a faithful patriotism that encourages, equips, and enables our capacity and skills to show respect for another, building multi-faith relationships as we integrate toward ‘a more perfect union.'”

One of the nation’s foremost experts on the intersection of faith and international affairs, Chris Seiple has traveled the world over, meeting with religious and political leaders of all faiths, and encountering what he calls “the worst of religion and the best of faith.” According to Seiple, the rise of religious nationalism poses dangers the world over, especially to religious minorities. In his talk, he will explore how to counter religious nationalism through what he calls “faithful patriotism” and “covenantal pluralism” – especially through the promotion of cross-cultural religious literacy. A former Marine Corps infantry officer, Chris Seiple has served as Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Role of Faith and is co-founder of The Cradle Fund, which restores endangered Christians and members of other religions/ethnic groups in the Middle East to safety.

Related Article: The Call of Covenantal Pluralism: Defeating Religious Nationalism with Faithful Patriotism
Related Event: Defeating Religious Nationalism with Faithful Patriotism

Y.W. Junardy helps tackle Indonesia’s greatest challenge with business know-how and faith

2 Sep, 2019

Y.W. Junardy is recipient of the 2016 Global Business & Interfaith Peace Award.

Yaya Winarno Junardy likes to tell the story about how he was just a boy from a small village in East Java, Indonesia, when he arrived in Jakarta in the 1960s. Pretty soon, he had four jobs — as a street cigarette seller, a high school biology teacher, a university student and a casino worker. He worked seven days a week.

The experience taught a lesson he still applies in his business and philanthropy today.

“I found myself in four different environments with four different kinds of customers in four different subjects,” he told a group of National University of Singapore students in 2012. “It taught me how, as an individual, to adapt to different situations. I learned that in my life and in my work I have to adapt.”

Adapt he did, taking on a fifth job — an operator for IBM — before he had the university degree the company required. He spent 25 years with IBM in a variety of executive positions in cities around the world. He has also held high posts with Bank Universal, ExcelCom and several other Asia-based telecommunications corporations. He is one of the most prominent businessmen in Jakarta.

Junardy learned how to adapt to people of different faiths and cultures from his grandfather, an ethnic Chinese who ran the family’s copra business among Muslim, Christian and Buddhist customers and contractors. He has said he believes this early exposure to people of different faiths and cultures taught him to relate to and respect others.

As president commissioner of Rajawali Corp., he has more time to pursue what he calls his “second chapter” — improving conditions for the working and lower-income classes of Indonesia. His purpose now is “to give back to society by teaching young people, working with the underprivileged, and giving joy to others,” he told the publication HQAsia in 2012.

That ability to adapt has served Junardy, who is 72, well in his philanthropic endeavors. He is president of the Indonesia Global Compact Network — part of the United Nations Global Compact that encourages businesses to commit to universally accepted principles in human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption values.

Since 2011, Junardy has led a consortium of Indonesian businesses in hosting mass weddings for low-income Indonesian couples of multiple faiths who cannot afford the fees — 60,000 Indonesian Rupiahs or about five U.S. dollars — required for a legal marriage.

Without an officially recognized marriage, Indonesian couples cannot obtain identity cards, access health care or obtain birth certificates for their children. Junardy estimates 36 percent of Indonesian households lack these documents, stigmatizing their children — and affecting their education, health and, ultimately, their jobs.

For Junardy, providing poor children with legal status is a fulfillment of their basic human rights. “They are like nobodies in their own country,” he said earlier this year in a speech at the Gobal Child Forum. “They are left behind.”

In 2012, as he was preparing to spend more time on philanthropy, Junardy offered advice for would-be Indonesian business leaders “Take advantage of opportunities and learn from experiences,” he told HQAsia. “You learn best in times of adversity. Get exposed to cross-cultural experiences early in life and learn to relate to others who are different from you. Most importantly, always try to understand the context of the problem before jumping to solutions.”