Forgiveness in Business?


Kia Scherr

forgiveness in businessIn my quest for opportunities to engage in positive narratives that result in increasing the peace index throughout the world, I was exploring the possibility of participating in a international conference on Forgiveness-Probing the Boundaries to be held in Oxford, England this summer. I was intrigued by the idea that people from various academic fields would gather to share papers on the topic of Forgiveness to investigate and explore the nature, significance and practices of forgiveness from various perspectives throughout history. I had always thought of forgiveness simply as a bridge to peace and didn’t realize there were multiple ways to analyze this.

One month ago, I attended a conference in Washington, DC on the Economics of Peace. For two days, we explored the role that business can play in creating structures of peace by increasing economic stability through sound business practices that also serve the needs of community. There are of course many factors that are contained in this, but forgiveness was not one of them. It would be a necessary component of producing ‘good relations with neighbors’ which is one of the pillars of peace, but forgiveness within the world of business was not directly addressed.

I shared the link to the Forgiveness Conference with a UK businessman, Nigel Lang, who has set up an innovative business ( based in Mumbai. I thought it would be interesting to get his perspective on this because his business is based on establishing good relationships to serve his clients.

His response is worth sharing because this is the kind of attitude and practice that is much needed in the world of education, business and government.

Nigel says:

It got me thinking (sorry, using my mind temporarily, but it won’t last) that whilst they mention anthropology, psychoanalysis, literature, history, philosophy, psychology, political economy there is no mention of business. I can think of numerous real examples where forgiveness in business has reaped tangible rewards and plenty of examples where vindictive lack of forgiveness has cost companies dear. I make it a very strong principle of my companies’ culture that we do not have witch hunts, we do not hold grudges and we do get on with looking forward. Too many opportunities are lost by bearing grudges and too much energy is wasted trying to beat the enemy. There is no place for enemies in business and no place for any emotion other than love:

  • Love of life
  • Love of people
  • Love of satisfying needs
  • Love of a happy customer
  • Love of a challenge
  • Love of creativity
  • Love of organisation
  • Love of teamwork
  • Love of planning
  • Love of promotion
  • Love of individuality
  • Love of teaching
  • Love of growth
  • Love of fairness
  • Love of equality
  • Love of fulfilment
  • Love of abundance

That my dear, is why forgiveness is so important even in the simple world of business!

Mr. Lang has hit upon something that needs to be at the forefront of everyone’s mindset that will take them into the heart of what matters most in this crazy world. This is the narrative that needs to be inserted into every board meeting, training session and classroom and it should be an addendum to the constitution for all governments.  But first things first, let’s start with ourselves.  And then, as they say on West Wing, the popular American TV series about the inner workings of the White House, “What’s next?”

(End of Part Two)

Kia Scherr is co-founder and president of One Life Alliance, a global peace initiative that is bringing tools of peace to education, business and government beginning in the United States, India and Mexico.


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