*** UPDATE: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to gave keynote address at the launch of this new, groundbreaking publication on Aug. 29, at UNAOC, Bali, Indonesia, during the side event organized by the Indonesia Global Compact Network (IGCN) ***
IMMEDIATE RELEASE: USA and Indonesia – August 21, 2014: The UN Global Compact Business for Peace platform and the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation announce a new resource to highlight how businesses can promote interfaith understanding and peace.
The resource – available here – will be introduced during the 2014 Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations ( UNAOC ) held in Bali, Indonesia, August 29-30. The approaches highlighted in the resource include:
Using Marketing Expertise to Bridge Borders: Companies can make positive contributions to peace in society by mobilizing advertising campaigns that bring people of various faiths and backgrounds together, as seen in Coke Serves Up Understanding Across Borders.
Incentivizing Innovation: Because cross-cultural dialogue and cooperation is an essential part of daily work for multinational companies, one company, the BMW Group, incentivizes other organizations to create innovative approaches to interfaith understanding through an award organized in collaboration with the UN Alliance of Civilizations. Organizations that have won this award include a tour company in the Middle East, which offers new paths to build bridges and bring cultures together, as seen in Promoting Understanding Through Tourism in the Holy Lands. Another recognized intercultural innovator uses job placements agencies to help contribute to the religious diversity of workforces, as seen in Helping Muslim Youth in the Philippines.
Incubating and Catalyzing Social Entrepreneurship: Business can also provide common ground where religious differences give way to shared concern and enterprise. Opportunity and Entrepreneurship in Nigeria describes an approach modeled by a peace-building organization showing how supporting companies and new entrepreneurs in conflict-affected areas can reduce extremism. Petrobras Supporting Business Incubation for Afro-Brazilians similarly shows how company support for new small enterprises can have a significant impact in developing marginalized communities.
Supporting Workforce Diversity: When businesses are sensitive to the religious and cultural issues around them, they can not only increase employee morale and productivity, but also address unmet difficult social needs, as shown in Indonesia Businesses Open Their Doors to Faith and Action.
Through this collaborative publication, the UN Global Compact’s Business for Peace platform and the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation seek to raise awareness among business, Governments and other stakeholders of the ways in which business can and are contributing to interfaith understanding and peace.
“Given its role in building economies, mobilizing people around a shared purpose and pioneering cross-cultural management styles, business has an important stake in promoting intercultural and interreligious understanding. Successfully managing diversity and fostering tolerance and understanding – among employees, consumers and other stakeholders – is increasingly essential for long-term business success.”
— Georg Kell, Executive Director, United Nations Global Compact
“Business is at the crossroads of culture, commerce and creativity. This means businesses have the resources to make the world more peaceful as well as the incentive to do so. Indeed, as these case studies show, business is good for interfaith understanding, religious freedom and peace.”
— Brian Grim, President, Religious Freedom and Business Foundation
Indeed, interfaith understanding – and its contribution to peace – is in the interest of business.
Recent research shows that economic growth and global competitiveness are stronger when social hostilities involving religion are low and Government respect for, and protection of, the universally recognized human right of freedom is high.
Interfaith understanding also strengthens business by reducing corruption and encouraging broader freedoms while also increasing trust and fostering respect. Research shows that laws and practices stifling religion are related to higher levels of corruption. Similarly, religious freedom highly correlates with the presence of other freedoms and a range of social and economic goods, such as better health care and higher incomes for women.
Positively engaging around the issue of interfaith understanding also helps business to advance trust and respect with consumers, employees and possible partner organizations, which can give companies a competitive advantage as sustainability and ethics come to the forefront of corporate engagement with society.
With the shared vision of a more sustainable and inclusive global economy that delivers lasting benefits to people, communities and markets, it is clear that companies can make significant contributions to advancing interfaith understanding and peace through both core business and outreach activities. The examples in this publication offer an important step forward in providing companies with guidance on why and how they can make practical contributions in this area – in ways benefitting both their business and the societies where they operate.