The Global Business & Interfaith Peace 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 (RFBF) in collaboration with the United Nations Global Compact Business for Peace (B4P) platform, the Global Compact Network Korea, and the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC).
The 2018 Awards will be presented in Seoul, South Korea, on March 7-8 to coincide with the Winter Paralympic Games in nearby PyeongChang. Award recipients will have the opportunity to present their commitment to interfaith understanding and peace, while contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 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.”
We hold the Awards every two years at each Winter & Summer Paralympics. This is appropriate given that these Games highlight human triumphs over adversity, including athletes impacted by war and conflict.
A Business for Peace Symposium will be held in conjunction with the Awards. During the Symposium, top business, legal and academic leaders will address themes including religious nondiscrimination and inclusion in the workplace and the how business can play a positive role in peace and security.
Denials of religious freedom are associated with poorer economic performance and lower global competitiveness, according to a study by researchers at Georgetown University and Brigham Young University. And other studies show that religious freedom promotes peace, which is particularly important for business because where stability exists, there is more opportunity to invest and conduct normal and predictable business operations, especially in emerging and new markets.
Championing interfaith understanding and peace through a company’s core business operations, including internal procedures, human resources hiring practices, training, product/service development, sourcing policies, supply chains, as well as the development of products and services that promote interfaith understanding and peace.
Social investment and philanthropy
Financial and in-kind contributions, and strategic social investment support for NGOs, UN and multilateral agencies or directly to affected communities and/or contribution of functional expertise through volunteering efforts.
Advocacy and public policy engagement
Fostering social cohesion and inter-group dialogue and relationship-building in the workplace, marketplace and local community.
Partnership and collective action
Joining forces with Governments, UN entities, civil society organizations and/or other businesses to act collectively to promote interfaith understanding and peace and forge long-term partnerships for local or regional economic and sustainable development..
Nominations closed 1st October 2017.
The 2018 jury is comprised of a small group of high-level experts, including from the United Nations (H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations); the European Union (H.E. Ján Figeľ, 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 head of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom); the business & peace community (Per L. Saxegaard, Business CEO, and Founder and Executive Chairman of the Business for Peace Foundation, Oslo, Norway); and the religion and peace community (Dr. Sunggon Kim (김성곤) Honorary President, Asian Conference of Religions for Peace).
Additional input during the judging process is provided by the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding and its CEO, Joyce S. Dubensky, Esq.
The Value of Recognizing Business Champions
The recipients of the Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards are recognized leaders on the cutting edge of business. The Awards salute concrete and innovative actions, acknowledging the impact of responsible business practices in advancing the values of interfaith understanding and peace. The winners will become part of an esteemed group of outstanding leaders whose actions will also be recognized by investors, employees, customers and other stakeholders.
Nominees are also invited to join the UN Global Compact Business for Peace platform and/or sign RFBF’s Corporate Pledge in Support of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) — which supports religious diversity and freedom in the workplace — sends two clear messages to current and prospective employees: (1) You can work here without changing who you are; and (2) the company respects all employees and will not favor certain employees over others … and that’s good for the business of all.
A Look Back at the Inaugural 2016 Awards
The first awards during the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro honored business men and women from around the world for using their businesses to bridge cultural and religious divides.
“These business leaders show the value of religious freedom – it sets people of faith free to do good motivated by their deepest and most innovative ideals,” said Brian Grim, president of the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation. Winners come from a variety of religious backgrounds and manage companies and enterprises in the U.S., Indonesia, Mozambique, Uganda, Brazil, Lebanon and Iraq. “The religious, geographic and business-type diversity of these business leaders shows that the values of interfaith understanding, religious freedom and peace have universal appeal,” Grim went on to say.
H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, High Representative United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and a member of the jury, noted that “this award recognizes those who have taken an initiative to use their business as a platform for promoting positive change and tolerance in our society. …. By implementing SDG 17, Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development, RFBF is collaborating with Global Compact and the UNAOC in acknowledging these distinct business leaders at the international level” (Read the High Representative’s full comments).
Winners from Previous Awards in 2016
The sole Gold Medal went to Indonesian businessman Y.W. Junardy, President Commissioner, PT Rajawali Corpora, for his facilitation of thousands of marriages for poor Indonesians of all faiths, providing their families with the legal status necessary to advance in Indonesian society.
A Silver Medal was awarded to Don Larson, founder and CEO of Sunshine Nut Company in Mozambique, who works across faith and cultural lines to revive the country’s cashew business.
Brittany Underwood, founder and president of AKOLA in Texas, U.S., and Uganda, tied for a Silver Medal. Underwood promotes gender equality and religious freedom by employing Ugandan women to create fashion jewelry. Underwood also created a Dallas-based organization that employs women who have survived human trafficking.
Four Bronze Medals were awarded. One went to Jonathan Berezovsky, CEO of Migraflix in Brazil, who helps immigrants and refugees integrate into Brazil through facilitating cultural exchanges between them and the local community.
H. Bruce McEver, co-founder and chairman of Berkshire Capital Securities LLC in New York London, has a foundation which works to cultivate inter-religious understanding through the promotion of religious literacy.
Emma Nicholson, Baroness of Winterbourne, executive chairman of the Iraq Britain Business council and founder and chairman of AMAR Foundation in the U.K. and Iraq, works to build business, technology, trade and investment in Iraq, with a special focus on women of religious minorities, such as Yazidis.
Fouad Makhzoumi, the CEO of Future Pipe Industries Group Ltd., in the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon, promotes religious freedom through microcredit and vocational training to help over 10,000 Lebanese of all faiths set up sustainable businesses.
RFBF president Brian Grim said the finalists, who include Christians, Jews, Muslims and the religiously unaffiliated, exemplify the mission of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation – to show that religious freedom is vital to a fertile business climate.
Other finalists for the awards recognized during the ceremony were Jonathan Shen Jian, CEO, Shinework Media, China, whose films promote global cultural diversity and interfaith understanding in China’s media market of one billion people through his film work.Tayyibah Taylor, CEO and founder, Azizah Magazine and WOW Publishing, Inc., Georgia, U.S., who died in 2014, used her magazine to help Muslim women and people of other faiths better understand Islam. Her daughter Mariam accepted the award in her honor. And Joaquim Augusto Sanches Pereira, Regional Business Leader at Dresser-Rand, a Siemens Business, works with the Vaga Lume initiative, promoting peace and cultural diversity through literary programs for children, teenagers and adults in the multicultural and diverse Amazon region.