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Intel’s top leaders to receive Business & Interfaith Peace Gold Medal Aug. 24

22 Aug, 2021

Intel’s CEO Pat Gelsinger and EVP Sandra Rivera to receive 2021 Global Business & Interfaith Peace Award Gold Medal on August 24 in Virtual Ceremony


The join other CEOs from US, UK Iraq, Israel, India, Australia, Japan to be honored from multiple industries: technology, construction, health, food, manufacturing, legal services


EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: Washington DC, 22 Aug. 2021, 00:00 AM

Pat Gelsinger and Sandra Rivera will virtually take the stage, speak and be honored with Gold Medals at the global Dare to Overcome conference on August 24 for their work in interfaith understanding, religious freedom and peace.

“Pat and Sandra are showing Corporate America and the world that creating a culture where people can bring their whole selves to work – faith, beliefs and all – is good for people, good for business and good for society,” said Dr. Brian Grim, president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation. “This is for everyone,” said Grim, “because everyone’s core values (religious or not) are the engine driving commitment and innovation.”

The Intel Corporation is the most religiously inclusive Fortune 100 company in America, according to the REDI Index. Pat Gelsinger, Intel’s CEO, and Sandra Rivera, Intel’s CPO, have helped create a culture where people can bring their whole selves to work — faith and all — thanks to solidly incorporating religious diversity into their overall diversity and inclusion commitments. Intel’s embrace of religious inclusivity is seen in their willingness to officially sponsor a wide range of faith-based employee resource groups. These groups not only support members of their particular faiths, but also work together in an interfaith association to support all employees at Intel to succeed in work and life, indeed, a positive model for society at large.

Winners of the third biannual Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards will express their thoughts on faith and work as they are presented with Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals in a virtual global ceremony at noon ET, Tuesday, Aug. 24, the day of the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic Games in Tokyo. For winners in Japan, a special awards ceremony will be held at the prestigious Sophia University in Tokyo on Aug. 22.

Previous Awards were presented in tandem with the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro (2016) and in Seoul (2018), where former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, and former general manager of Bain Capital, Robert C. Gay, gave keynote addresses.

The awards are presented by the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, a US-based nonprofit, in cooperation with the United Nations Global Compact’s Business for Peace initiative. The foundation helps educate the global business community about how religious freedom is good for business and how they can promote respect for freedom of religion or belief.

Winners come from a variety of religious backgrounds and manage companies and enterprises in Australia, India, Iraq, Israel, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals are given in three categories: Core Business, Philanthropy, and Advocacy.

The Core Business gold medal is shared by Pat Gelsinger, Intel’s CEO, and Sandra Rivera, Intel Executive Vice President, former Chief People Officer and now General Manager of the Datacenter & Artificial Intelligence Group, who have helped create a culture where people can bring their whole selves to work – faith and all – thanks to solidly incorporating religious diversity into their overall diversity & inclusion commitments.

The Philanthropy gold medal goes to Dr. Judith Richter, CEO of the Israeli heart stint company Medinol, who also founded the NIR School of the Heart to help high school students not only understand cardio-vascular career opportunities but also connect the hearts of people from different cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds.

The Advocacy gold medal goes to King Husein, Chairman and CEO of Span Construction & Engineering, who has played a critical role addressing the rising tide of restrictions on religious freedom that has swept the globe over the past decade. His efforts range from helping found the South Asian Consortium for Religion and Law Studies, to helping to kick off the first-ever Business Roundtable to advance International Religious Freedom during the 2019 UN General Assembly in New York City.

Silver medals go to John Tyson (Core Business), Chairman of Tyson Foods, who was an early pioneer of building a faith-friendly workplace by recognizing the spiritual and psychological needs of all employees; Maurice Ostro (Philanthropy), Chair of Ostro Fayre Share Foundation, Vice Chair of the Council of Christians and Jews (the UK’s oldest interfaith organization) and the Founding Patron of the Faiths Forum for London; and Peter Mousaferiadis (Advocacy), founder of Cultural Infusion in Australia, who is a pioneer in using cultural and artistic expression as a means of promoting social cohesion and interfaith understanding.

And the three bronze medals go to Khalid Khowshnaw (Core Business), founder the Hemn Construction Group in Iraqi Kurdistan, combats discrimination based on race, religion, ethnicity, or sectarian identity by intentionally hiring differing nationalities to working alongside one another; Dr. John Gathright (Philanthropy), founder of Tree Climbing Japan, who helps children of differing faiths, abilities, and challenges come together to find an increased self-confidence through embracing the challenge of climbing trees; and Candice Corby (Advocacy), founder of Cobra Legal Solutions in India and the U.S., who promotes the celebration of religion and belief, encouraging employees to be their full selves, including bringing their faith and beliefs to work in this majority-female law firm.

“These CEOs show that business is a powerful force for building interfaith understanding, religious freedom and peace in workplaces, marketplaces and in societies at large,” said Brian Grim, president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation and global chair of Dare to Overcome. “Indeed,” Grim said, “civil society and governments have much to learn about building religious freedom in practice from these amazing champions.”

Dare to Overcome

The awards are presented as the culminating virtual event of Dare to Overcome (DTO) (at noon US ET on August 24, 2021), the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s signature global conference, with the mission of shining a light on successes in promoting mutual respect and allyship among diverse communities. Each day focuses on a different theme:

– Aug. 22: Social Justice, Equity and Religious Non-discrimination
– Aug. 23: Intersectionality Between Faith & Abilities Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
– Aug. 24: Business for Interfaith Understanding, Peace & Inclusion.

Please join on the 24th us to hear and interact with these CEOs as well as experience DTO’s gala finale: our virtual 200-member global choir from dozens of countries, faiths and ethnicities singing the Dare to Overcome original anthem!

Additional Details

The 2021 jury is comprised of a group of high-level experts, including from the European Union (H.E. Ján Figeľ, former Special Envoy for promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU); the NGO religious freedom community (Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice, and a former Chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom); and the business & peace community (Per L. Saxegaard, Business CEO, and Founder and Executive Chairman of the Business for Peace Foundation, Oslo, Norway).

RELIEF from the Culture Wars!

13 Aug, 2021

by Kent Johnson, J.D., Senior Corporate Advisor, Religious Freedom & Business Foundation

Part of the blog series, Authenticity & Connection


Today, in many circles, certain words and phrases are instantly presumed to signify that the speaker has bad character and dangerous intent, and is worthy of mockery, condemnation and aggressive opposition. Presumed association with a group or worldview is enough to spark distrust, fear and hatred; and in extreme cases even promotes violence.

You’ve seen it on social media, and, chances are, even in your workplace. You yourself may have fed the drama.

Against this volatile cultural backdrop, how can we begin to weave a fabric of civility?

There’s hope. We at the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation have seen how Businesses can launch transformative ventures of civility across cultures, by embracing Covenantal Pluralism.

Let me begin by providing two controversial examples from workplaces: one individual’s perception of the study of “intersectionality and critical race theory,” and another’s perception of the promotion of “religious freedom.” (Warning: I’m going to wildly oversimplify controversial issues here – and I don’t intend to “take sides” on any of the controversies – but if you’ll bear with me, I think you’ll see the overall goal of this analysis is helpful and apt).

First, “Intersectionality.” Ann (a fictitious name) sees the growing focus on intersectionality and critical race theory in diversity training as a means by which socialists are fueling anger and resentment among aggrieved parties in order to influence legislators to force an unfair and counterproductive governmental redistribution of wealth. More troubling than that, she worries that certain coworkers are pushing for a Marxist revolution and establishment of an all-powerful central government that will crush people like her. This impacts her work, because, in the course of the diversity training, Ann feels she’s been accused of having racial bias, simply by virtue of her race. She worries that this will impede her advancement in the company.

Second, “Religious Freedom.” Bob (a fictitious name) sees the phrase “religious freedom” as a pretense by which fundamentalists are trying to deny HIS freedoms, and to condemn him. The CEO of the company he works for says the business is run according to “Biblical principles,” and openly supports legislation to advance “religious freedom.” Bob says, “Why should fundamentalists be allowed to cram their restrictions and condemnation down our throats?” He worries that his employer seeks to impose a theocracy that deplores the core values and beliefs of people like him. He feels alienated, powerless and fearful.

Two different topics. In each case, the perceived threat is both personal and corporate. It seems each is promoting laws and policies that would protect its interest by imposing restrictions on the other. It’s adversarial. One side’s success would spell the other’s failure. The fears are real; and they greatly complicate relationships at work.

Time for disclaimers. What I have to suggest is no panacea. I’m not contending that protective laws and policies are unnecessary. I won’t resolve the complex issues associated with these topics. But I’ll suggest a step toward strengthening the fabric of civility in your workplace, person by person.

I believe that though it’s important to understand the past, historical conflicts need not prevent us from creating something new and better. Through one-on-one engagement that remains true to the core values of each person, we can nurture a culture that respects differences without trying to compel uniformity of core beliefs.

Intersectionality and religious freedom are just two of many possible examples, but by way of illustration, let’s push ourselves to think anew about the goals and the potential impact of each. We can do this by opening the door to employees’ respectful discussion of core values and beliefs. (Not compelling such discussion; but encouraging it). Returning to our two examples:

Ann chose to engage with the colleague who said she was a bigot; to give that person the benefit of doubt concerning intent. Over time, Ann and her colleague began to perceive another facet of “intersectionality” in a generic sense. They discovered that they share a belief in God, and they both aspire to treat others the way they themselves would like to be treated. They learned that each has a family member (by blood or marriage), whom they love, who ascribes to the views of the other on intersectionality; and some who belong to the same organizations. Their common interest in caring about their family members with different views brought them together. Today the two are close friends, working in concert.

What about Bob? In light of negative experiences with religious people from whom he sensed condemnation, he was unwilling to engage with the advocate of religious freedom. But a trusted colleague told him about a panel discussion at his company among people of various faiths, and an atheist, about how the speakers’ faith and belief systems affected their work. He attended. To his surprise, he witnessed genuine respect and warmth among these diverse speakers. Each remained true to his or her belief system; yet they really seemed to respect and care for one another. He was encouraged by what he saw; and today he’s a strong advocate of reaching out to “the other side.” Talk with him today, and you’ll come away filled with hope for civility.

Multiply these personal interactions by the thousands, and you’ll begin to see how workplaces that enable and encourage discussion of core values and beliefs are serving as platforms for civility to grow. Tremendous solid progress is made, one-on-one. But it doesn’t stop there: As each person engages on a deeper level with another representing a different perspective, the positive ripple effect spreads 360 degrees, as other colleagues witness reconciliation.

This doesn’t just happen spontaneously. But it’s possible. And it’s happening in more and more companies. A key starting point is to reach broad agreement on a set of basic ground-rules on which, in our experience, almost everyone will agree. For more on that, see our list of Basic Principles and our forthcoming article on Covenantal Pluralism.*

To learn more about the encouraging cultural transformations sweeping many companies, and to see how these themes of positive intersectionality and freedom of religion and belief work together, join us August 24 for the DARE TO OVERCOME conference. Register HERE.

* Author’s Accepted Manuscript. Forthcoming as, Brian Grim and Kent Johnson, “Corporate Religious Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as Covenantal Pluralism.” In Chris Seiple and Dennis R. Hoover, eds., The Routledge Handbook of Religious Literacy, Pluralism, and Global Engagement (Oxford: Routledge, 2022).

Jade Romano (BYU Marriott School of Business) and Drew Fleming (Wabash College) Dare to Overcome!

31 Jul, 2021

IMMEDIATE RELEASE (EIN Presswire): BYU Marriot School of Business student Jade Romano and Wabash College student Drew Flemming are having the opportunity of a lifetime as corporate liaisons for the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s Dare to Overcome global initiative.

Jade is from Boston, Massachusetts, and is studying Marketing at the Marriott School, and Drew grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, before attending Wabash where he majors in Religion with a minor in Political Science.

“The opportunity for Jade Romero to intern with the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation has been excellent,” said BYU Marriott Dean Brigitte Madrian. “Jade is a marketing major, and the experiences she is having as the Fortune 500 corporate liaison for the Dare to Overcome initiative are invaluable as she prepares for her future as a leader in both her professional and personal life. She has mentioned what a profound influence this amazing internship has already had on her. We’re grateful that the foundation worked with our summer experience program to provide this opportunity to help Jade gain such a meaningful and quality experience.”

“I was excited to hear that Drew is working this summer on RFBF’s ‘Dare to Overcome’ initiative,” said Wabash President Scott Feller. “Drew’s internship is supported by our new Wabash Public Policy Project, which provides our liberal-arts students opportunities to learn about the wide variety of nonprofits and civil society organizations doing important work in that sector. As Wabash continues to promote lifelong learning and civil discourse, our engaged students like Drew will graduate as informed and active citizens, ready to serve others.”

“Jade Romano and Drew Fleming are role models for the rising generation!” — Dr. Brian Grim, President, Religious Freedom & Business Foundation

Dare to Overcome (DTO) is the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s global intersectionality conference, highlighting the ways diverse communities support and reinforce one another to build more inclusive workplaces and peaceful societies. Each day focuses on a different theme:

– Aug. 22: Social Justice, Equity and Religious Non-discrimination

– Aug. 23: Intersectionality Between Faith & Abilities Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)

– Aug. 24: Business for Interfaith Understanding, Peace & Inclusion

DTO is the global convening point for faith-and-belief employee resource groups (ERGs). Members of these ERGs will gather virtually in support of their colleagues around the world and share best practices.

The United Nations Global Compact and the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation are collaborators for DTO’s signature initiative, the Global Business & Interfaith Peace Award. Main sponsors include American Airlines and the Templeton Religion Trust.

DTO is held in the host city of the Paralympic Games: Rio 2016Seoul/PyeongChang 2018Tokyo 2021, as well as virtually due to the pandemic.

“Higher Education” Needed – On Diverse Religion and Belief

31 Jul, 2021

by Kent Johnson, J.D., Senior Corporate Advisor, Religious Freedom & Business Foundation

Part of the blog series, Authenticity & Connection


Who is teaching the skills necessary to successfully engage the increasingly religiously diverse workplace landscapes of tomorrow?

     • Does your business school offer a course on how religious beliefs impact employees’ daily work; or on how to engage employees on a spiritual level at work?
     • Does your medical school offer a course on how to discuss death with patients of various faiths?
     • Does your technical school offer a course on the implications of faith and belief in daily work?
     • Does your law school offer a course on navigating faith-based values in the adversarial legal landscape?

Probably not.

There’s a huge gap in higher education. It’s time that gap was closed.

In workplaces around the globe, employees and customers sense a “calling” and responsibility to live out their work lives in concert with the principles of their faith every day. Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, atheists, non-theists, people all across the belief spectrum wrestle with the deep questions presented by their work. What is the core WHY behind my daily strivings? How should my core beliefs affect the way I conduct myself at work – especially when nobody’s looking? When do I say NO to the dictate of a boss that contravenes my faith? Is my work life defined simply by the hope of monetary reward?

How can I better understand the core motivations of my diverse coworkers? How can I help employees relate trustfully to coworkers who embrace diverse faiths? What can be done to help employees connect their core beliefs in ways that support the company’s business goals? For that matter, how (if at all) should the core beliefs of employees help shape the goals and vision of my company?

Where should we look for answers to these kinds of questions?

Increasingly, business schools focus on various cultural impediments to human achievement by diverse employees. They identify and lean strongly against overt and unconscious bias (as they should). They explore ways to promote a company culture that inspires all their people to engage heartedly (even soulfully) with their work. Some business schools and engineering schools offer courses on ethics, environmental stewardship, human rights, servant leadership, humility and the like. They raise helpful cautions about the profit motive as the preeminent corporate value. Yet in many schools, personal faith and belief are topics to be avoided, as if they were facets of human life that are irrelevant to work (at best), or destructive and shameful (at worst).

The same aversion to topics of faith and belief applies to many medical schools, law schools and technical schools. As a result, people emerge from our institutions of “higher learning” ignorant of the core values and motivations that influence their future coworkers. Many haven’t thought through the implications of their own professed faith for the way they will conduct themselves at work.

There are exceptions of course. Some faith-oriented colleges and universities seek to address these questions; at least from the perspective of the particular faith they espouse. Notable solid examples include The Catholic University in Washington DC and Brigham Young University in Salt Lake. But ask these questions about the institutions you attended. Are they advancing study on the application of one’s core values and beliefs to one’s work? Are they equipping students to engage meaningfully and trustfully with those whose core beliefs differ from their own? If not, why not?

For far too long, higher education has shunned religion and belief, except as a theological sideline, as if it were isolated from business and daily life. But people’s religion and belief are not going away. To the contrary, as the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation has shown, religion and belief are gaining influence worldwide. And core beliefs matter in business and life.

The next generation of workers needs to know how to navigate religious diversity. Will your alma mater offer courses of study to help? Can you help engage institutions of higher learning to begin to grapple with these questions?

It’s worth thinking about. It’s worth a course of study. Help us promote it.

King Husein, CEO of Span Construction, has critical role in countering rising tide of restrictions on religious freedom

30 Jul, 2021

PRESS RELEASE: King Husein, Chairman and CEO of Span Construction & Engineering, has played a critical role addressing the rising global tide of restrictions on religious freedom. Span Construction, the largest steel construction company in the world and exclusive builder of Costco stores worldwide.

King’s efforts range from helping found the South Asian Consortium for Religion and Law Studies, to helping kick off the first-ever Business Roundtable to advance International Religious Freedom during the 2019 UN General Assembly in New York City. In diverse venues such as the Horasis Global Conference in Portugal and the IRF Summit in Washington DC, King shares how religious ethics benefit business.

His advocacy also looks toward the next generation by his helping launch an initiative at BYU Hawaii to equip students from across Asia to know how to advance religious freedom when they return home.

“It is a true honor for us to recognize one of the world’s leading business champions of interfaith understanding and religious freedom,” said Dr. Brian Grim, President of the  Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, “and we wholeheartedly congratulate King as a finalist for the 2021 Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards.”

A concrete sign of King’s commitment is that his company’s “About” page prominently features his official pledge to protect the freedom of all who work in the company to practice their faith and beliefs.

Reflecting on the values that guide his business in a to-be published manuscript on faith@work, King Husein shares:

“I love President Abraham Lincoln’s statement: “Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality.”

This summarizes how I strive always to keep my commitments in all aspects of my life. True success comes with preparation, opportunities, hard work, and relying on the Lord. Without a doubt, I know I can accomplish more with the help of God than I can on my own.

Commitment to my faith has enabled me to establish core principles to guide my business from its inception. These core principles became the foundation upon which I built my company. They are ingrained in the culture of my company. Culture defines my company, and my religion defines me. Not only does my religion defines me, it also sustains me in my business, as I know it does for so many of my employees. Providing a workplace where we can bring our faith with us to work makes for a better workplace and a more successful business!”

King Husein is competing for a Gold, Silver, or Bronze medal, which will be announced and awarded on Aug. 24 virtually at Dare to Overcome. Dare to Overcome is the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s global intersectionality conference, highlighting the ways diverse communities support and reinforce one another to build more inclusive workplaces and peaceful societies.

Background on the Awards

The Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards are presented biennially by the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, a US-based nonprofit, in cooperation with the United Nations Global Compact’s Business for Peace initiative. The foundation helps educate the global business community about how religious freedom is good for business and how they can promote respect for freedom of religion or belief.

The awards are held in tandem with the opening of the Paralympic Games, including previously being held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and in Seoul in 2018. This year they will be held during RFBF’s Dare to Overcome event, Aug. 22-24, 2021, both virtually worldwide and in-person in Tokyo (due to pandemic restrictions, limited to those already in Japan) .

In the short video below, the global chair of the Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards, Dr. Brian Grim (also president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation), shares the inspiration for these awards, followed by brief reflections by former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

Brian Grim Appointed as Advisor for Brandeis University’s “Chaplains as Facilitators of Covenantal Pluralism” Study

27 Jul, 2021

IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Dr. Brian Grim, president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, has been appointed as an advisor to the Covenantal Pluralism Study by Brandeis University’s Chaplaincy Lab. He joins a diverse Advisory Committee of 28 key stakeholders in a wide range of chaplaincy and spiritual care across settings (a group only beginning to work together) who have, in turn, engaged their constituents at each stage of the project.

The Chaplaincy Innovation Lab received a $1.5 million grant from the Templeton Religion Trust for a three-year study and conversation about the demand for the work of chaplaincy and spiritual care across the United States. In partnership with Gallup, Inc, the Lab will conduct a national survey and in-depth interviews to learn who in the general public has engaged with chaplains in recent years and what their experiences have been. This project will also allow the Lab to map how chaplains are trained and where the gaps are between supply and demand.

Wendy Cadge, the project’s principal investigator and Senior Associate Dean of Strategic Initiatives at Brandeis, said “We think chaplains and spiritual care providers are going to play increasingly central roles in religious leadership in coming years. The public has become more aware of their work since the COVID-19 pandemic as they cared for patients, staff and family members at a distance in hospitals across the United States.”

Chaplains have long histories in the military, prisons, and other settings and are increasingly found in new places such as community organizations, social movements, and social service organizations.

The project will analyze how members of the public have engaged with chaplains in recent years and use this new knowledge to think about how chaplains can best be trained for their work. Most attention to chaplaincy and spiritual care today focuses not on these demand questions but on the supply of chaplains. Scholars and educators debate how chaplains should be educated, what endorsements or certifications are required, and how to continue to support them over their careers. This project will challenge that conversation by collecting much-needed data about demand. In some settings this is demand for an actual chaplain; in other settings, the demand is for the skills of presence; empathetic listening; improvisation; an awareness of spiritual, religious and broad existential issues of meaning and purpose; knowledge and ability to comfort around death; and the ability to engage deeply across religious difference.

From the start, the project will have an advisory group of close to thirty stakeholders in spiritual care, the institutions where chaplains work, and theological education. They will play particular attention to how chaplains enable people from different backgrounds and belief systems to engage one another, as key facilitators of covenantal pluralism in the United States.

“We’re delighted to be partnering with Brandeis, Dr. Cadge and her team to support the work of the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab,” commented Dr. W. Christopher Stewart, Vice President of Grant Programs at the Templeton Religion Trust.  “CIL has quickly become an important part of the American landscape in preparing educators and chaplains to facilitate cooperative, constructive engagement across deep differences while enhancing the spiritual welfare of individuals, and society. TRT supports CIL because chaplains embody the freedom of conscience, religious literacy, and humility that our world needs to engage others with empathy and patience, thus improving the overall conditions of societies and strengthening the vitality of religions.”

The Lab is pleased to be joined by postdoctoral fellow Grace Tien in this work. Tien completed her PhD in sociology at Princeton University on an accelerated track with the Dean’s Completion Fellowship and is currently a postdoctoral scholar and a research affiliate of Princeton’s Center on Contemporary China. The American Sociological Association recently awarded Tien the 2020 best student paper prize in economic sociology and entrepreneurship.

By the end of the project, the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab will have produced multiple working papers, publicly available and academic articles, and a draft monograph on the future of the field.

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About the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab

Founded in 2018, the Chaplaincy Innovation Lab supports chaplains in all sectors as they recognize and respond to changes in American religious and spiritual life. The Lab brings chaplaincy leaders, theological educators, clinical educators, and social scientists into a research-based conversation about the state of chaplaincy and spiritual care. Driving its work are questions about how spiritual caregivers can do their best work. The Lab aims to improve how chaplains are trained, how they work with diverse individuals (including those with no religious or spiritual backgrounds), and how spiritual care develops as a professional field

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About Brandeis University

Brandeis University was founded in 1948 by the American Jewish community at a time when Jews and other marginalized groups faced discrimination in higher education. Today, Brandeis is a leading research university for anyone, regardless of background, who wants to use their knowledge, skills and experience to improve the world. Nearly 6,000 Brandeis students and 550 faculty members collaborate across disciplines, interests and perspectives on scholarship that has a positive impact throughout society. Learn more at brandeis.edu.

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About the Templeton Religion Trust

Templeton Religion Trust (TRT) is a global charitable trust chartered by Sir John Templeton in 1984 with headquarters in Nassau, The Bahamas. TRT has been active since 2012 and supports projects as well as storytelling related to projects seeking to enrich the conversation about religion. TRT is always seeking more spiritual information, more “benefits of religion,” and more spiritual growth.

Chaplaincy Innovation Lab Contact

Michael Skaggs, PhD
Director of Programs
781 736 4399
mskaggs@brandeis.edu

Maurice Samuel Ostro, OBE, KFO, Finalist in the 2021 Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards

26 Jul, 2021

PRESS RELEASE: Maurice Samuel Ostro, OBE, KFO, Chair of Ostro Fayre Share Foundation, Vice Chair of the Council of Christians and Jews (the UK’s oldest interfaith organization) and the Founding Patron of the Faiths Forum for London, has been an interfaith champion in business and philanthropy for decades.

He has promoted religious inclusion in the businesses he has started and grown. For example, he provided prayer rooms for all faiths represented by the more than 1,000 employees in his offices to ensure that all staff feel comfortable practicing their faiths during the workday. He has also established a social enterprise making jewellery in Burma, providing dignified, well-paid jobs to Buddhist and Muslim women and building bridges between these communities. In the UK, he is a founding patron of Faiths Forum for London, the capital’s preeminent interfaith body, the chair of Faiths United, a pan-UK coalition of faith leaders responding to COVID-19, and continues to support his Foundation’s initiative, Strengthening Faith Institutions, to assist over 900 faith institutions across the UK.

Maurice has been involved in advising several UK Governmental bodies, latterly on the Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission, as well as having been a mentor for one of the UK’s most senior police officers. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire and a Knight of the Royal Order of Francis I in 2014.

“It is a true honor for us to recognize one of the world’s leading champions of interfaith understanding,” said Dr. Brian Grim, President of the  Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, “and we wholeheartedly congratulate Mr. Ostro as a finalist for the 2021 Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards.”

On the occasion of this nomination, Maurice Ostro OBE shared the following:

“I am honoured to be a finalist for these awards. It has been a privilege to work with faith leaders and businesspeople to build bridges between communities and use our different perspectives to deliver imaginative solutions to real problems. I stand on the shoulders of giants: this award is a testament to their vision and perseverance too.”

Mr. Ostro is competing for a Gold, Silver, or Bronze medal, which will be announced and awarded on Aug. 24 virtually at Dare to Overcome. Dare to Overcome is the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s global intersectionality conference, highlighting the ways diverse communities support and reinforce one another to build more inclusive workplaces and peaceful societies.

Background on the Awards

The Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards are presented biennially by the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, a US-based nonprofit, in cooperation with the United Nations Global Compact’s Business for Peace initiative. The foundation helps educate the global business community about how religious freedom is good for business and how they can promote respect for freedom of religion or belief.

The awards are held in tandem with the opening of the Paralympic Games, including previously being held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and in Seoul in 2018. This year they will be held during RFBF’s Dare to Overcome event, Aug. 22-24, 2021, both virtually worldwide and in-person in Tokyo (due to pandemic restrictions, limited to those already in Japan) .

In the short video below, the global chair of the Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards, Dr. Brian Grim (also president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation), shares the inspiration for these awards, followed by brief reflections by former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

Khalid Khoshnaw, Founder Hemn Group, employs all nationalities to work side-by-side in Iraq

26 Jul, 2021

PRESS RELEASE: Following the sectarian conflicts in Iraq, many families were forced to flee the country in hopes of seeking a safe place to openly practice their faith and beliefs. In response, Khalid Khowshnaw founded the Hemn Group which combats any form of discrimination including that of race, religion, ethnicity, or sectarian groups.

The Hemn Group promotes inclusion of differing nationalities working alongside one another, oftentimes sharing in each other’s celebrations and feasts. They are also credited for providing jobs for countless Christians, Muslims, and Yazidi in areas that are safe to practice their faith and beliefs free of discrimination and facilitates the free practice of worship. This also creates an inclusive, sustainable economy, an antidote to sectarian conflict.

The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation congratulates Khalid Khowshnaw as a finalist for the 2021 Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards. On the occasion of this nomination, the Hemn Group shared the following:

  • — “During the many years of the sectarian conflicts in Iraq after 2003, many families fled from the other parts of Iraq to the Kurdistan region seeking a safe zone. We at the Hemn Group offered many the opportunity of getting jobs, many of whom have been promoted to occupy high levels of the jobs and have continued working with us for long time and still there are still a large number thanks that their areas are saved and safe now compare to the past years. In the Hemn Group, you will find different religious believers are respected and facilitations are provided for them to practice their worships: Muslims, Christians, Yazidi are free to express themselves without been hatred or prevented. We share each others’ celebrations and feasts.”

Khalid Khowshnaw is competing for a Gold, Silver or Bronze medal, which will be announced and awarded on Aug. 24 virtually at Dare to Overcome. Dare to Overcome is the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation’s global intersectionality conference, highlighting the ways diverse communities support and reinforce one another to build more inclusive workplaces and peaceful societies.

Background on the Awards

The Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards are presented biennially by the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, a US-based nonprofit, in cooperation with the United Nations Global Compact’s Business for Peace initiative. The foundation helps educate the global business community about how religious freedom is good for business and how they can promote respect for freedom of religion or belief.

The awards are held in tandem with the opening of the Paralympic Games, including previously being held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and in Seoul in 2018. This year they will be held during RFBF’s Dare to Overcome event, Aug. 22-24, 2021, both virtually worldwide and in-person in Tokyo (due to pandemic restrictions, limited to those already in Japan) .

In the short video below, the global chair of the Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards, Dr. Brian Grim (also president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation), shares the inspiration for these awards, followed by brief reflections by former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

American Airlines: “Our purpose is to care for people on life’s journey.”

23 Jul, 2021

Millicent Rone ( MBA, ITIL), Sr. Specialist, Inclusion and Diversity, at American Airlines celebrated this week American Airlines receiving 2nd place for the Corporate Religious Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (REDI) Index 2021 AND… has been named the official airline of Dare to Overcome, a Global Faith-and-Belief Oriented ERG festival in support of peace and people with disabilities, held in tandem with the Paralympic Games.

For the sixth year in a row, American received a top score of 100 on the Disability Equality Index (DEI) and is named one of the best places to work for disability inclusion in 2021.

At American Airlines, our purpose is to care for people on life’s journey – a mission that extends beyond the airline and into the communities we serve. Thanks to our Christian, Indian and Abilities ERGs for collaborating and for their passion to serve!

REDI Index | RFBF (https://lnkd.in/eQ256f5)

Dare to Overcome award from American Airlines goes to Justin Greene

What’s the WHY that Drives Your Company?

23 Jul, 2021

by Kent Johnson, J.D., Senior Corporate Advisor, Religious Freedom & Business Foundation

Part of the blog series, Authenticity & Connection


Economist Milton Friedman famously said,

“There is one and only one social responsibility of business–to use its resources and engage in activities designed to INCREASE ITS PROFITS so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.” (Emphasis added).

Do you agree?

Set aside for a moment the carefully worded WHY that your company may already have put in writing; the one that defines social responsibility in less craven terms than Friedman used. What’s REALLY the main why that’s driving your company?

Today I’ll suggest a course that clears the way to truly embrace a rich, resilient, and productive WHY. I’ll describe what, for many, will be a new kind of connection; one that will engage your increasingly diverse workers.

Nearly all major faith traditions agree that, when it’s the preeminent goal, the profit motive is a toxic master. When profitability is preeminent, the culture drives people to secretly walk as close to the edge of legality and ethics as they can, without getting caught. Over time, such a culture fans distrust among coworkers. It breeds skepticism, disloyalty and fear. It forces employees to hide their personal values and aspirations, as if they were something to be ashamed of.

For clarification, I’m emphatically NOT denigrating profit, and I’m not intending to frame the issue as pitting virtue against profit… as if maximizing one necessitated diminishing the other. Far from it. I’m simply pointing out how open discussion of people’s core values helps guard against making profitability the overwhelming value.

In the fight against Covid-19, rampant skepticism was heaped on pharmaceutical companies and logistics suppliers. Were they improperly taking advantage of the pandemic for financial gain? Skepticism about companies’ motives was also fanned by automotive lawsuits, where companies allegedly ignored concerns from employees about possible environmental and safety risks in order to save a few dollars per car. Many other examples will come to your mind. Think about it: Do you trust “big business” to care about anything but monetary gain?

Companies today need to clearly define their core values and their mission, and then connect their actions with their core values. They’ve got to look beyond the short term “bottom line.” But how should they go about defining and establishing those core values as real, outcome-determinative factors?

For this, I contend that they should look to the hearts and minds of their diverse people.

We at the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation have seen, time and again, the positively transformative effects that flow when companies and government agencies take the bold step of asking their employees to bring their core values and beliefs to bear in the workplace.

When we encourage people of faith – and atheists, and agnostics – up and down the reporting chain, to openly discuss their core beliefs and principles with management and with each other… and to listen carefully and respectfully to one another… several richly beneficial effects follow. First, simply by prompting such discussion, Management sends a much-desired message: that the core values and beliefs of their people MATTER to the way the company works. Their values and beliefs are not an obstacle. They’re not irrelevant. They are a treasured asset. They should be expressed.

Second, by inviting voluntary, open sharing of personal value systems, we enable our people to make themselves personally accountable to each other to conform to those values. In an environment where it seems profits are King, this kind of voluntary mutual accountability is countercultural. And positively transformative.

What kinds of values are we talking about here? Among many others, here are just a few specific core beliefs that employees often express when asked:

  • — Failing to give credit where it’s due, and taking undue credit to oneself, tears at the fabric of community and purpose, and saps creativity. It’s a form of theft. The same applies to the practice of stifling or failing to listen to the ideas of people of any category who often are excluded by the culture.
  • — A “blame and shame” culture is demoralizing. It pressures workers to hide serious problems, rather than address them.
  • — Respect for fellow workers, regardless of differences, strengthens culture. (The kinds of beliefs expressed by the winners of RFBF’s “Religious Freedom Film Competition provide additional examples).

When leaders formally open the door to discussions of core beliefs and values relevant to work, skeptics will think at first that they just want to “look good;” that behind the façade, they’re still driven by short term profitability, however it’s achieved. They’ll presume at first that coworkers who are talking about values just want to appear more virtuous than others. But with time, as the company navigates everyday operations and the sharing continues, sincerity, authenticity and connection gain credibility. Skepticism begins to dissolve and give way to solid hope.

Open this door. Then be amazed at the positive effects on your company’s true WHY.

Special thanks to Paul Michalski for several of the ideas I incorporated into this piece; including the quote from Milton Friedman.