Peace Innovation: Role of the Corporates Business for Peace innovation is the way forward for leading brands and corporates to thrive

By Mandar Apte

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Most wise C-suite executives are aware of the need for creating a culture of innovation within their organizations that empower employees to find innovative ways to help the organization compete in the markets of today, and also, more importantly, to ensure that their organizations remain relevant and thrive in the future. Recognizing that innovation is very different from R&D, some organizations have also implemented innovation learning programs to build the muscle to play a role in the innovation process amongst staff. Some organizations have also started investing in the future by encouraging employees to "intrapreneurs" and also provide seed investments to support novel ideas that test the future and create new products and services to address the future needs of their customers.

Often we have to be reminded that even iconic leaders Steve Jobs, was not told to make the iPhone (by any market research or customer survey!) but he created the products and the market for the product in advance of the customer demand.

Peace Innovation - Why should corporate brands care?

Peace and prosperity are two sides of the same coin. Where there is peace, prosperity follows. We know of the "business of war' - that will promote conflict for the upside that it brings with it - greater sale of arms, ammunition, services, etc.

We believe that there is a much bigger "business for peace' if only we can help organizations to reframe the definition of peace - as not just an absence of conflict. Peace is also a "lack' of many essential aspects of human existence including food, shelter, health, happiness that get manifested during acts of violence including suicide, domestic and workplace abuse, homicide/gang, drug overdose and also global terrorism. It is evident that violence of any kind described above is not good for business - leads to increase in health and insurance costs, exposure to brand reputation, the risk of losing customer trust and marketplace, and leading to a climate of fear and insecurity that in turn harms economics, trade and commerce.

This only indicates that there is an opportunity for organizations and corporates to create the "Business for Peace'. It is with this imperative that the UN has identified in its Sustainable Development Goals list, Goal #16 - Peace and Security.

Now, we need an enlightened CEO to ask "how can our brand/business' play a role in creating and promoting peace, compassion, kindness and positive human values - not only because it's a good thing to do and meets our corporate social responsibility goals - but even more importantly because it would deliver a direct return on investment!

Today violence happens anywhere, anytime and does not depend on our nationality, religion, social or political views, our economic status or even the neighbourhood where we live. It happens so often that as a society, we have become numb to it. We will not do anything about it unless it affects our lives directly.

In addition to unlocking the financial value as hypothesized above, by promoting peace, compassion, kindness and human values, brands can send a very positive message to its employees, vendors and customers - in fact, the entire ecosystem that it is taking a position for "promoting compassion" and not waiting for an act of violence.

This bold move can inspire staff to bring their passion at work and create "intrapreneurial" initiatives to generate blended value - promote peace & compassion and deliver "return on investment'.

Compassion in Action

The only driving force in the world to make it a better place is through the practice and promotion of compassion. A lack of compassion has shown us unprecedented violence. It is now high time that corporations and their C-suites take a bold step in the right direction.

A business that is built on the pillars of peace and compassion will also grow exponentially. Managing people compassionately is not just a better way to build a team, it's a better way to build a company. When the employees' trust the management and vice versa both are likely to drive the growth of the company in the long run. If the organization walks on the path towards peace innovation then it also creates a very positive engagement with customers and vendors and enables greater trust.

In this 150th birth anniversary year of Mahatma Gandhi - let us hope that at least a few CEO's make the journey to peace innovation and take a position to promote compassion in the world - instead of waiting for acts of violence.

There is nothing to lose.

There will only be a legacy worth living.

Mandar Apte

Founder and Executive Director, From India With Love

Mandar is a Visiting Scholar in the School for Conflict Analysis & Resolution at George Mason University.

Prior to this, Mandar worked at Shell for 17 years and managed Shells’ GameChanger Social Innovation program, investing in ideas that create shared values- business value and social impact. Mandar is an acclaimed expert on leadership and social innovation and has spoken on entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership at prestigious forums including TEDx, Wharton Business School, Social Innovation Summit, Sustainable Brands, London Business School etc. he is the winner of the prestigious Ashoka league of Intrapreneurs for designing and delivering an innovative learning program at Shell to over 2000 colleagues using meditation practice.

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