There was also a conference in October 2004 coordinated by the Alliance for Religions and Conservations (ARC) based in Manchester, England that launched the International Inter-faith Investment Group, drawing leading religions of the world into a dialogue. These two in combination could emerge as a powerful lobby leveraging on faith-based monies estimated at over $1 trillion worldwide. While such bodies may improve corporate value systems, ethical conduct and environmental concerns, their narrower versions could be controversial. For example, some might prevent investments in cinema, music, restaurants, breweries and the like. This may not be worrisome but some may even dictate which societies or communities are to be preferred for sourcing and supply of goods and services. Such narrower versions have the potential of instigating seclusion, exclusion, preferential treatment, compacts and controls that may adversely affect market mechanisms and governance of corporations.
While religious bodies are beginning to influence corporate governance in some measure, the reverse is yet to happen. It appears from controversies over the decades involving religious bodies (further dramatised with the controversial books by Dan Brown), that they can do with some learning on the core principles of corporate governance. This is particularly so as they are indeed beneficiaries of immense trust and blind faith from the public at large that is usually accompanied by massive flows of material wealth. Most donors may not have any explicit expectations from their donation, as it is considered an end in itself for invoking divine intervention. Further, the contributors do not have any motivation for or mechanism of coordination. Yet, religious bodies are fiduciaries, in a waythey must understand the donors and their wishes, expressed or implied, and align their activities and expenditures accordingly.
Religious bodies are beginning to influence corporate governance
Its time corporate governance specialists influence religious bodies
The principles of corporate governance are founded on transparency, responsibility, accountability and fairness. It is about time that corporate governance specialists initiate a sensitisation process among religious bodies and influence a governance reform process. Mutual learning will hopefully result in corporates drawing from religious values that prescribe good conduct, socially responsible behaviour and ethical decisionmaking, and the religious bodies understanding the best practices of governance.