michael_spence2The Business for Peace Foundation was initiated in 2007, in the belief that socially responsible and ethical initiatives should not be merely window dressing, but must stand the test as a business case, and gradually, as the moral culture of corporations matures, will constitute an integrated part of modern business.

The aim of the Foundation is to accelerate the development of business practices through increasing the awareness of the strengths of the ethical business case. The vision is to inspire and encourage business people, as individuals, to foster peace and stability to the benefit of humanity, through releasing the peace building power of Being Businessworthy.

The increasingly adversarial relationship between business and society has many causes, but can be generally ascribed to a breakdown of the trust-proposition between what should ideally be partners. Business has come to see society as hampering its growth through excessive regulation; and society tends to see business as prospering at the expense of the wider community. It has become important to explore how one can rebuild the trust that has been lost between business and society.

Ours is a timely idea: one of inspiring individual business leaders and businesses to work together with society, to the mutual benefit of both. The Foundation seeks to achieve this goal by drawing attention to the business leaders of global stature who are leading the way in this respect. Many business thinkers are voicing similar calls to action.

The vision of the Business for Peace Foundation is that all business leaders have as their purpose to improve society. This requires being ”businessworthy” – in an ethical and responsible way creating value both for business and society.

In a world where new communication realities, driven by the Internet and mobile media, reduce the ability to control information, the value of trust is rapidly increasing. Trust can not be purchased, it must be earned. Being Businessworthy, beyond creditworthy, will be key to sustain success in business going forward. In the future, how you are seen to do business will matter far more than it ever did before. The extent to which you are seen to share the values of the communities where you are active can significantly impact the value of your business; and your ability to contribute to society in a gainful manner will influence both employee and customer loyalties.

Our independent Award Committee, consisting of Nobel Prize winners in Peace and Economics, has to date chosen 39 Business for Peace Honourees, each a torchbearer for a better way of doing business, where a longer-term quest for building trust through Businessworthy behavior is preferred over traditional win-lose thinking. Through the Oslo Business for Peace Awards, the Foundation is drawing attention to the outstanding individuals who are showing the way to a higher form of capitalism. We wish to inspire decision makers to rebuild the relationship between business and society through the ethical principles underlying Being Businessworthy. The Foundation, together with its partners, seeks to stimulate a transformation of business conduct in ways that reveal how businesses can contribute to building trust and promote stability and peace.

The Foundation believes that decision-making towards a socially beneficial good trust purpose for companies depends upon individual businesspersons, which is why the Oslo Business for Peace Award is presented to individuals for their proven ethical and responsible decision making.

The Business for Peace Foundation names Honourees we believe can serve as exemplars of how one best achieves an interplay between these levels of trust. The Honourees are living proof that it is possible to marry solid business performance with higher purposes, as a counter to those who claim that “the business of business is business.”

During the 2010 Award Ceremony, Honouree Dr. Francis Yeoh declared: “The world we live in worships short-termism. our global economy is driven by instant rewards, quick fixes and unethical gains. We forget at our peril that the world was at the verge of an economic Armageddon in 2008. Had it been a total collapse of the global economy, not only would all our hard work have been wiped out, its impact on the poor and the disenfranchised would have been unimaginable. We desperately need good governance, the rule of law, and the transparent regulatory framework in the global economy to rebuild trust and regain moral integrity.”