This written discussion is part a new month-long Challenge with Indiana University around the question: “What role can business play in pursuit of peace?”  The Challenge consists an online programme of written articles and online discussions, available on the Challenge homepage.

 

Despite the fact that broad macroeconomic connections between business and peace have long been acknowledged more needs to be done.  This Challenge aims to deepen understanding around the role that business can play in peacekeeping, peace making, and peace building.

This discussion focuses on why business might contribute to peace.  A one-hour live panel will take place Wednesday 12 October from 10am ET / 3pm UK.

The discussion will focus on three questions:

  1. What motivates business to contribute to peace?  Of these motivations, which one(s) might be the most important in the future?
  2. If businesses aim to contribute to peace, what can they learn from best practice, including from other businesses and from the political and diplomatic worlds?
  3. As businesses move from a pure focus on shareholder value to “shared” value for all stakeholders, what implications does this have for why and how they can contribute to peace?

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Businesses are made up of people, first and foremost. These people naturally want peace in their lives, for the benefit them as individuals. Individuals want peace for themselves and their communities. These individuals, once part of a business, would hopefully use the power being part of a firm can provide and come together to do good.

Businesses should also be motivated to contribute to peace to better society as a whole. Once again, businesses are made up of people. Most people ideally want to create a better world for their children to live in. Employees and executives of companies should be motivated to contribute to peace and a better quality of life for future generations.

Finally, businesses who use their resources to better the lives of their employees and that of society will also reap the benefits of positive public relations. More and more people are becoming concerned with the moral behavior of companies. I think this will only become more important in the future. Many of us don't want to support business that may be treating their employees poorly or contributing to pollution. A company that works toward benefitting groups outside the firm will prove that they are worth investing in. 

I think that there are many underlying factors that contribute to why businesses that add to peace often outperform those who choose not to.  I think that many companies credited with positively impacting the world are those with powerful brand names, and an image to maintain.  The public holds high expectations for those companies, such as Starbucks and Google, and that's the reason they are often the target of activist groups.  They have the name that people recognize, and bad press can negatively impact their bottom line.  I think those companies realize they need to be proactive in responding to social issues, including peace, which is why they have the reputation of being socially responsible.  I don't think that contributing to peace is the reason they outperform, I just believe that the companies in the news for contributing are those that are already very successful because they have the resources to be proactive to continue building that strong brand. 

Daniel Schwartz said:

Although it may not be covered as the main driver of the bottom line and shareholder theory, a business that contributes to peace will often outperform those who do not. Not simply because creating peace is the right thing to do, but rather, it is a cause people internally and externally can rally behind. We live in a much different world nowadays with social media and television; thus, it is now expected companies do more than simply make profit, they are expected to give back to the community. One way of doing this, is promoting peace through community involvement, job creation, or charity work. By creating peace, a business helps create value for all stakeholders. A business that creates peace, inspires inclusion for the community and employees at the firm. Employees who are creating change and creating opportunities for others, will be highly motivated and likely to outperform their competitors. On the other hand, a company that creates value for its community is a company that investors and customers can get behind; a customer is likely to feel good by being a part of a company that encompasses values he/she deems as ethical. All in all, businesses that practice peace creation will lead to a larger customer and profit base, which will in turn help the economy grow and prosper.

Hi Everyone....just checking in to start the 10/3 session.  Thanks to all who have been contributing and looking forward to the next hour's discussion!

Tim

While I think many of these comments are capturing what we might consider "supply" factors of peace (the willingness of a business to act to promote peace), it's also important to consider the "demand" side (when is business engagement needed). These second factors offer dynamics that can require businesses to be more proactive. For example, if a businesses faces losses if it doesn't proactively engage the community. While different companies may react differently to the same circumstances, the circumstances also serve as an important motivator.

Hi all, Also checking in. Great to be part of this. 

Hi everyone - welcome to the live segment of this discussion!  We're joined by a great panel to discuss the question of why business might contribute to peace.


Can I ask all of our panellists to introduce themselves.

Hi I am Karen Newman and I work at the SDG Fund based in UNDP in NYC, we focus on the SDGs with 23 pilot programs around the world.

i'm Paul-Andre Wilton. I work for CARE International UK, based in London as a senior policy advisor with a focus on conflict, fragility and humanitarian issues. I have a background in peacebuilding, but I'm coming to this discussion based on some of the thinking we're doing around the role of the private sector in fragile contexts, and the added value that businesses can bring to building social cohesion, as well as tackling some of the drivers of instability. 

I'm Molly Melin- a professor in the Political Science department at Loyola University Chicago.

Hi Everyone - thanks for inviting me to participate. This is Michelle Breslauer with the Institute for Economics and Peace. 

What is increasingly clear from our work at the SDG Fund (a UN development mechanism, multi-donor agency that brings together UN Agencies, governments, civil society and business to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals) the complexity of the SDGs converge a guiding set of principles of interest to all actors.

 

We see peace as a baseline for companies to invest in the SDGs.  And we know that business are a vital and meaningful part of how we will continue to deliver on the SDGs, especially in the recognition that companies both large and small have the opportunity to contribute towards shared economic, social and environmental progress.

I think one thing that is important to bear in mind is that "business" is complex and varied.  There are all kinds of different businesses from multinational corporations to state owned enterprises to entrepreneurs.  The reasons for contributing to peace can vary just as businesses themselves vary

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