How might one empirically assess the contribution of business actions to peace?

Phyllis, I know your Matrix of Peace stresses connecting links among various kinds of activities. it's a cool tool and was wondering if you could explain it a bit?

Just to expand a bit on my last comment about economic development: along with jobs themselves is the kinds of transfers that can occur when jobs are created. For example, if a well-run company locates in an area, it will require its suppliers to also pass tests (for example quality tests) that mark the supplier as well-run too. And so there can be a spinoff effect of increasingly well-run businesses if one has a first mover into an area. That's mostly true for fairly large companies, but I do think small, entrepreneurial companies have this impact as well

Thanks Tim. Yes, the The Matrix of Peace™ is a systems model for designing and actualizing peaceful societies, a guide to peacebuilding best practices, a visual teaching tool, and a diagnostic tool. The model does three things: a) identifies the key components of a society that must be understood to achieve sustainable peace: its levels of consciousness and its public, private, and civil society sectors, b) catalogues and provides resources to discover the best practices, key values, and consciousness factors that produce a sustainably peaceful society, and c) presents this information in a succinct, comprehensive, and reliable framework to best understand the dynamics and energetics of the society and allows for accurate testing of peacebuilding theories and interventions.

Truth in full disclosure, I'm on Phyllis' Advisory Board so I do have a bit of self-interest in saying nice things about MOP (I love the acronym). Having disclosed that, one of the things I really like about MOP is how it is able to be very context specific. One works in one society (part a above in Phyllis' note) may not necessarily work in another society and so knowing the context of a society is important. One may not necessarily have "one peace" but incrementally differing kinds of peace that move each society forward from where they are to where they might improve

This is a great graphic. I know that Peace Through Commerce and its sibling organizations place great emphasis (appropriately so) on consciousness. One of the key aspects, Zahid I think of moving this conversation about business and peace forward is the awareness of the possibilities and the cultivation of a (in my terms) rather spiritual orientation to the connections that exist within us and throughout society.

Thanks for sharing all comments and insights so far - let's move onto the next question!

Q2: What are some of the issues involved in measuring the contribution of businesses to peace?

I don't claim to be an empirical scholar, but I've worked on this long enough with people smarter than me that I think I am getting a sense of some of the issues.

The first one is knowing what "peace" we are measuring. I alluded to that in one of my opening posts today.

A second is how we measure any given company's contribution to a broad social issue like peace. What difference does one person or one company make to peace?

A third is separating the extent to which a society impacts one's actions and the extent to which one's actions impact's one's society.

I do have a bit of an answer for some of this, but let me post the direct answer to your question for now

When I talk to my students about business and peace, one of the things I ask them is whether they have ever recycled anything: a cup, piece of paper, water bottle; anything. Of course, they all raise their hands. And then I ask why? Why bother? Why would anyone do anything because any one person's actions don't make a difference to something as major as sustainability, climate change, etc. But we have come to understand that, collectively, small steps do make a difference and are things that we can all contribute to.

I think something similar is in play when we talk about measuring business and peace. Small steps. Yes. Incremental. Yes. Can one capture a magical moment where one "creates" peace social? Yes, that's an issue too. but if we break things down, I think we can still capture contributions that we can all make

Yes, Tim. An excellent book that focuses on developing inner peace as a leader, including connecting the feminine and masculine energies with both western and eastern wisdom traditions to foster conscious leadership abilities in Shakti Leadership: Embracing Feminine and Masculine Power in Business, by Nilima Bhat and Raj Sisodia (Raj is the co-founder of Conscious Capitalism, Inc.) It was published in the last few months and conscious company leaders from busineses like Whole Foods Market, Container Store, Ben & Jerry's, Campbell Soup Company are taking this deeper dive into self-awareness very seriously.

Thank you for this graph.

I think it would also be interesting to identify when in the peace process Business can contribute, their main contribution being for me, providing a revenue source for the maximum number of people they can.

It also has a part to play internally on the way they treat/educate/provide fair development of their own employees and the environment, as well as externally regarding the sustainability of their own supply chain.

I think businesses can be a stabilizer of peace, and indeed, as the graph shows, can better contribute to peace if it works on the peace objectives of the civil society and the public sector.

Thanks for this post Sophie. I think that businesses can impact the peace process at different times. If one is in the midst of a conflict or conflict-sensitive zone, then the interaction with the other sectors of society will be crucial. Business is not likely to create peace on its own. At the same time, even in non-confect sensitive zones, businesses might make a culturally important, but incrementally small contribution by practicing their businesses in a way that replicate what anthropologists have found to be attributes of relatively non violent societies. These can include, as Phyllis implies, gender-related issues, voice with in the organization, protection of human rights, a sense of egalitarianism in the workplace, and sizing institutions so that there is face--to-face interactions with others in the business so that there is a consciousness that one's actions have consequences and therefore make a difference. All of these can important at different times and places

Yes speak well about the inter-relationships between business/private sector with public and civil society sectors. The systems graph shows all three are necessary to co-create an ecosystem of sustainable peace. Businesses do provide an important revenue source, and they provide value in the form of needed goods and services. How they provide value, how they treat all stakeholders: their workers, vendors, customers, shareholders, their community, and the environment is a material factor in fostering a peaceful society

Let's move to our final set of questions:

Q3: Some argue that we should rank companies on their contribution to peace, or alternatively certify them against some standard. Which might be better and should they be made public or used to inform internal management decisions? What role should business play in developing these approaches?

I've gone back and forth on this. I do think that ranking has its advantages in that I think businesses people are competitive and will take up the challenge to tout themselves as the #1 or top 20 companies to promote peace. At the same time, I don't think the tools I know of (including mine) are quite ready to be able to make the kind of claim that one company is #2 versus another that is #11, even within the same industry. And so, I am increasingly thinking that the issue of empirically assessing business might be something that begins as a dialogue with businesses themselves and then allow them to refine the tools by which they are evaluated.

In saying that, I know there could be an objection that businesses might minimize the evaluation to their advantage. At the same time, I do worry that sometimes non-business people can tell businesses what they are supposed to do without understand the realities of business themselves. And so I do think a dialogue with business to help refine indices and to help businesses themselves learn is a good step at this juncture


It is possible to include indicators such as number of beneficiaries, amount of money invested, infrastructure repaired...

Another possibility could be to follow the Sustainaible Development Goals and define the corresponding indicators per SDG (number of pools rebuilt or number of people with wáter Access...)

If we state global indicators, all impacts could be measured in the same way and then get some global indicators

These are good points. There are models out there that measure lots of issues that I'd view as components of peace and following their leads seems smart

I think ranking is here to stay. We have social media like yelp making it very easy and free to immediately rate a business one has just interacted with. eBay started the ranking system and your reputational rating your customers and your most important asset. Transparency is here in this way and many more. Businesses have a role to play in allowing more transparency.

They can also meet and discuss their own role and impact on peace, as they do at Conscious Capitalism conferences, Doing Well by Doing Good meetings, Great Places To Work, where they encourage new and existing business owners to act in right relationship with all stakeholders and thus contribute to peace. Out of these conferences they can develop measures.

We say at Peace Through Commerce that peace is a byproduct of many actions which lead to justice, prosperity, pan-sustainability (meaning sustainable actions in the workplace as well as environmental sustainability), and human flourishing. Peace thus is a system of right action rather than a single state. When businesses become self-aware of their impact on peace, they can begin measuring their actions using new metrics, not just Wall Street metrics, and they can take some pride in doing the right thing now that we have a society waking up to measuring their good acts as importantly as profits.


As mentioned before, we could aggregate them accordingly to the SDGs.(wáter, poverty, education, cities, infrastructure, environment...)

Another possibility could be to do so per period in the peace building process: 1) prevention, 2) intervention and 3) reconstruction.

This could provide an overall and complete picture of the impacts

Hi all,

Thanks for the previous comments on this thread. I agree with Wilson, that Do No Harm should/can be the first tenet. And also aligning with strategic interests has been the way of successful CSR, so that would be a great plan as well. And Wilson's third idea of aligning with these organizations that advance peace is important as well. But there are more proactive ways to advance peace as well - Professor Fort has set forth those options in an article he wrote: It really makes us think about the many different ways that Peace can be advanced by businesses.

But then, as the question asks, we have to think about how to measure all of this. It's difficult and has not been done well, but we have to think of indicators for constructs that make sense. Does peace mean reduction of violence or conflict? If so, and if we can find that measure through HDI then we have to think through how to measure the responsible management ACTIONS (Do no harm can't really be measured here, we have to think of CSR and contributions to organizations that are promoting peace as well as the actions that Oetzel et al lay out). Additionally, it's impossible to claim causality so we have to deal with endogeneity problems as well. I try to do this a bit in my article: