IRF Business Roundtable
Responding to the call issued at the United Nations on 23 September 2019 for business leaders to “protect people of all faiths in the workplace,” the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RFBF) organized the first U.S. IRF Business Roundtable at the NYC Harvard Club. From that meeting, the first Middle East IRF Business Roundtable for the Middle East was held in Bahrain on 8 December 2019.
The aim for the U.S. and regional IRF Business Roundtables is to become the central venue for the world’s top business leaders to gather to respond to the rising global tide of restrictions on freedom of religion and belief. Today, more than 8-in-10 people live in countries with high restrictions on religion coming from governments or the hostile actions of people in society. These restrictions not only harm people but slow economic growth (see RFBF 2019 report).
Three core beliefs guide the Roundtable’s composition and work: (1) governments can benefit from the expert counsel of business leaders; (2) political affiliation is unimportant within the ranks of the Roundtable; and (3) the Roundtable’s contributions to public discourse and governance are in the interest of the common good of all people.
Foundational documents include the Corporate Pledge on Religious Diversity & Inclusion, and the Corporate Religious Diversity Assessment (CRDA) tool. Exemplary members, such as Roundtable Co-Chair Ingrid Vanderveldt, can be nominated for the biannual Global Business & Interfaith Peace Awards, which are given in partnership with the UN Global Compact. Ms. Vanderveldt won the prize in 2018.
At the IRF Business Roundtable’s three annual meetings (with varying locations), a selection of panels, interviews and presentations engage members in discussions inspired by the world’s greatest minds – from government leaders and international religious freedom experts to other CEOs. It is a dynamic experience where the brightest minds gather to discuss sensitive content in an intimate and safe environment.
Each meeting will have at least three main components: (1) Information on pressing challenges to international religious freedom; (2) Discussion on ways to respond to these challenges; and (3) Exploration of ways that business investment or knowhow could help address the challenges.
For more information, email Washington DC-based Brian J. Grim, Ph. D., who serves as IRF Business Roundtable Executive Director. Dr. Grim is founding president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation and a leading expert on international religious demography and the socio-economic impact of restrictions on religious freedom. Brian recently served as chair of the World Economic Forum’s global agenda council on the role of faith (2015-16) and was a speaker at the Forum’s 2018 annual meeting in Davos as well as being a TEDx speaker at the Vatican. Brian also supports and works closely with the “Business for Peace” platform of the United Nations Global Compact. His recent widely reported research finds that religion contributes $1.2 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, more than the combined revenues of the top 10 technology U.S. companies including Apple, Amazon and Google.
Co-Chair: Ingrid Vanderveldt
Self-made businesswoman (tech entrepreneur), investor and media personality, Ingrid Vanderveldt (iV) is Co-Chair of the IRF Business Roundtable. She is the Founder, Chairman & CEO of Vanderveldt Global Investments, EBW2020 LLC (Empowering a Billion Women by 2020) & Ingrid Vanderveldt LLC. She is an Advisor, change agent and business innovation strategist to startup CEO’s and C-level executives at top global corporations. She is a sought after global speaker & media host on entrepreneurship, women’s leadership & innovation. Her vision is to get a mobile device into the hands of every woman and provide her access to financial literacy and mentoring tools fueling success as leaders and entrepreneurs. Her investment, advisory and consulting strategy focuses on those tech companies and global brands building solutions that can plug into and/or compliment the EBW2020 global mobile platform to help women start, build and grow their ventures.
Ingrid’s one-of-a-kind skill set for bridging global corporations, women & entrepreneurs in a way that drives ROI on all sides has led to her winning the 2014-2015 FORBES & Northwestern Mutual Global “Entrepreneur in Excellence Award”, being listed the #1 “Superconnector” 2014 by Fast Company and on Fortune’s “55 Most Influencial Women to Watch on Twitter” 2014. Previously, she was the first EIR for Dell Inc. (2011-2014) where she oversaw entrepreneurial initiatives worldwide helping to build a $250 million business segment and founded the $250M Dell Innovators Credit Fund, Dell Founders Club, and the Dell Center for Entrepreneurs during her 3-year term. iV sits on the United Nations Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council. Host of CNBC’s “American Made”, iV has been featured on outlets including NBC, FOX, ABC, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Bloomberg, CNN Money, Fortune Magazine, Fast Company, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine. She holds a Masters in Architecture at the Savannah College of Art & Design and an MBA in Entrepreneurship from UT at Austin.
Meetings of the Roundtable
At the IRF Business Roundtable’s three annual meetings (with varying locations and regional Roundtables), a selection of panels, interviews and presentations engage members in discussions inspired by presentations from the world’s greatest minds – from government leaders and international religious freedom experts to other CEOs. It is a dynamic experience where the brightest minds gather to discuss sensitive content in an intimate and safe environment.
The Business Case for Religious Freedom
Socio-Economic Value of Religion: U.S. Example
About RFBF The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RFBF) is the preeminent organization dedicated to educating the global business community, policymakers, non-government organizations and consumers about the positive power faith — and religious freedom for all — has on business and the economy. The economic value and social benefits of robust religious diversity and liberty are tremendous. RFBF believes that business and religious freedom combine to form a powerful force for a better world. Through groundbreaking expert research, training programs, practical business tools and convening interfaith dialogue, RFBF helps demonstrate the critical link between respect for faith, successful enterprise and dynamic national economies. RFBF’s pioneering work serves as a catalyst for executives to promote Freedom of Religion or Belief for all people through employee programing, customer-facing policies, and leveraging their broader societal influence. People & Contacts ◊ Research Fellows ◊ Partnerships RFBF is a non-partisan, nonpolitical, registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization in the United States. It does not take a position on current political debates.