2017 ebbf annual conference - beyond diversity

ethical business building the future,
beyond diversity

ebbf’s 27th international annual conference:

Mindful people from around the world explored how to create economic systems and workplaces that contribute to a more prosperous, just and sustainable civilization.

We started by understanding diversity in all its forms: diversity of views, of economic systems, of company cultures, of gender and explore its possibilities and how to harness its potentialities.

We then explored how workplaces and economic systems are evolving and the new ways to harness diversity creating a new breed of collaborative, learning organizations.

We received and created new insights, ideas, questions and processes that allowed participants to adapt in a better way to the fast evolving environment that surrounds us and the increasing need to connect business models and economic systems to meaningful impact on society.

Keynotes and Contributors

The first confirmed contributors you will be able to interact with at the event

Payam Zamani (USA)

Payam Zamani is a die-hard entrepreneur and Internet pioneer who has founded several technology and Internet-based companies. He is currently the founder, chairman and CEO of One Planet Ops Inc, a unique hybrid firm combining operating technology companies, a socially-responsible angel fund and a startup business incubator, all designed to run, build and invest in disruptive technology businesses—while attempting to run these businesses in a humble spirit of sustainable service to humanity.
Payam is also the founder and the editor-in-chief of BahaiTeachings.org – a spiritual enlightenment website. He is also currently a board member at Tahirih Justice Center, which protects immigrant women and girls fleeing violence, and previously was an advisory board member at The Mona Foundation, which supports grassroots educational initiatives and seeks to raise the status of women and girls worldwide.

Isabella Lenarduzzi (Belgium)

Isabella Lenarduzzi has been a social entrepreneur, an expert in communication, event and conference organisation for 30 years. Her areas of interest include women empowerment, equality, education, training, entrepreneurship, innovation and EU advocacy.

Isabella launched JUMP “Promoting gender equality, advancing the economy” in 2006. She currently manages 3 companies, one NGO and a team of 12 people with an office in Brussels and in Paris.

Dhairya Pujara (India / USA)
Dhairya Pujara is the Founder, CEO for Ycenter. He has created community centered projects in Mozambique and India. As the CEO for Ycenter, he is responsible for building a global ecosystem bringing in corporates, universities, NGOs for creating community solutions. Dhairya is the curator for “Global Shaper Hub Philadelphia” by World Economic Forum. He has been a global TEDx organizer and a sought-after public speaker on entrepreneurship and international development. He delivers keynote and guest lectures in some of the top business schools, conferences around the globe. Dhairya sits on the advisory board for European Commission program LASIN – Latin American Social Innovation network. . In 2015, American Immigration granted him an approval for special category work visa reserved for “an individual of extra-ordinary abilities”.

More about Dhairya and his ideas on his LinkedIN Profile and here on his Twitter feed

Arthur Lyon Dahl (USA / Switzerland)

Arthur Lyon Dahl is a board member of ebbf, President of the International Environment Forum, and a retired Deputy Assistant Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), where he was Deputy Director of the Oceans and Coastal Areas Programme, Coordinator of the UN System-wide Earthwatch, and founding Director of the Coral Reef Unit. He is a frequent consultant on sustainability, environmental assessment and indicators to the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, UNESCO and UNEP. He was Visiting Professor, University of Brighton, and for 13 years has taught in advanced studies courses in sustainable development and environmental diplomacy at the University of Geneva and other universities. He has published over 200 papers and reports, and books including “The Eco Principle: Ecology and Economics in Symbiosis”.

Stephanie Akkaoui (Lebanon / Netherlands)

Founder & lead architect of AKKA Architects, Stephanie is part of a new breed of young visionary architects, who operate beyond the nowadays-restrained realm of architecture. A strong advocate of value created through cross-disciplinary interactions, Stephanie believes that the most sustainable innovation will happen at the intersection of different fields. Sustainability, as she defines it is the daily innovative solutions & opportunities we ought to actively create for a sustained long-term future.

Born & raised in the tumultuous city of Beirut, Stephanie quickly learned to navigate amidst an incredibly diverse, unpredictable, complex, & extremely lively environment.

With the community of the ebbf, Stephanie has also founded the Action Labs, a worldwide initiative aimed at sustaining local communities of entrepreneurs contributing to a prosperous, just & sustainable civilization, through their daily work. In addition, Stephanie serves on the advisory & executive boards of a number of business & creative organizations, including the Stimuleringsfunds Creative Industry and Ebbf the international business forum. In 2017, Stephanie launched her first book: Architecting Interaction: How to Innovate through Interactions.

Dorothy Marcic (USA)

Dr. Marcic is a professor at Columbia University, a playwright, and a former professor at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management, with over 20 years full time in academia.

She was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Economics-Prague, teaching MBA students and practicing managers. She served as advisor to the US Ambassador of the Czech Republic and was a delegate to both the United Nations Economic and Social Develop Summit in Copenhagen and the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

Her management consulting clients include Viacom, USAA Insurance, Bell Labs/AT&T, Ford Motor Company, Hewlett-Packard, Hallmark, US Dept of State, Governor and Cabinet of North Dakota, Eurotel, Czech Health Ministry, Slovenian Management Center, Zagreb University, Sofia Bulgaria Business School, and companies in Singapore, Perth/Sydney, and the Hawaii Justice System.

Her degrees include a Bachelors in Radio-TV-Film, a Masters in Educational Media, another Masters in Public Health and a Doctorate in Organizational Behavior. More recently she was awarded a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.

She is the author of 15 books, including the best-selling Understanding Management, Managing with the Wisdom of Love, RESPECT: Women and Popular Music, and Love Lift Me Higher, as well as numerous articles and research studies.

Based on her qualitative content-analysis research of how women are depicted in Top-40 music, Dr. Marcic wrote two hit musicals, RESPECT, which has played 2800 performances in 60 cities and SISTAS, currently playing Off-Broadway in New York City for over 5 years.

She started her career in the arts as a production assistant on the TV program, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, while in graduate school. She has appeared on C-SPAN, CMT, and Bravo Network.

Tahirih Michot (South Africa)

Tahirih has designed and facilitated diverse processes for groups and teams over the past 20 years. Her practice cultivates and nurtures the skills and competencies of her clients so that they can create dynamic and responsive institutional environments. She particularly seeks initiatives that are both innovative and creative in their approach to the learning experience of individuals and teams. Tahirih established her own company, The Idea Processor in 2014 to focus on doing the work she loves. Her professional experience and educational background has strengthened her acumen in three organisational areas – process design, capacity building and strategic planning. Given that organisations are unique, Tahirih’s work seeks to fit the specific needs and desired outcomes of each type of organisation and its team.

Carl Emerson (Switzerland / UK)

Carl Emerson founded InsideOut Solutions in 2014 in Switzerland. Harnessing his experience of over 20 years working at the interface between Pharma and CROs to facilitate productive empowered relationships between teams that enable value to be realised. To coach executives, project leaders and teams in taking the next step forward in excellence.

Starting life as a chemist Carl discovered that people were far more interesting than powders and moved quickly into relationship management, mostly in the outsourcing/procurement area, but more recently in training of executives, project leaders and teams balancing that with meeting facilitation.

A mentor for women in healthcare, an outdoor sports fan, experimental photographer and pioneer in the art of getting lost in foreign countries, Carl is based in Basel and loves working with ebbf.

Birgit Peeters (Belgium / Switzerland)

Birgit Peeters is a Belgian polyglot, she lived and worked in 5 countries, speaks 7 languages and is the mother of 2 daughters aged 14 and 12. In all her projects, she aims to blow life into people and organizations, whether as a “good vibes” coach or as a specialist in “other ways of working”. She works hard to bring more creativity in the workplace as it is a solution to people and companies needs. As a change maker, she helps companies to implement socio-economical management styles and different work forms such as teleworking, job sharing and intergenerational management. As a coach, she helps people to find their place focusing on their natural born talents. She loves reading, learning, travelling, playing theatre, exchanging with others and making people laugh.

Gary Reusche (Ukraine)

Gary Reusche since 1975 has been travelling the globe with the goal to contribute to socio-economic and community development, both in and out of the Baha’i community. His life resulted in 4 nationalities: American, Dutch, Russian, and Ukrainian, and working experience in more than 60 countries. At various times he has been an academic (United States, Sri Lanka, and Ukraine), a manager for business and development consulting, and a development expert for a dozen of the major bi-lateral and multilateral development agencies. Currently he focuses on social activism, including a school to teach virtues to Ukrainian children and youth, advocating for family farms in rural areas increasingly dominated by corporate interests, interFaith dialog, teaching a class on entrepreneurship, and grass roots community development. He brings a multi-cultural, multi-national perspective to his work.

Fateme Banishoeib ( Italy / Persia / Switzerland )

Fateme defines herself as “many and multitudes”, a bridge between worlds. A woman, an executive, a poet, a scientist and a speaker, always seeking for the intersection where all these “roles” meet. Her motto is integration of all the parts that make who we are as an act of self leadership. In so doing we become more inclusive of others.

She worked as global leader in the Bio-Pharma industry over the past 15 years covering roles in research and development, operations and strategy. The work she has grown to love most is helping organizations and teams change from the inside out.

In 2016 she founded a consulting firm, headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, focusing on supporting leaders and organisations to manage change and develop global teams. Her approach blends the strategy development of a consultant with the practical leadership guidance of a coach. Fateme is also the founder of ReNew Business, a platform to create a new way to do business, learn, grow, collaborate and impact the World.

Nava Emilia Anvari (South Africa)

Nava is a Senior Consultant at Dalberg Global Development Advisors – a strategy consulting firm that works exclusively on issues driving global development and impact. Her specific areas of expertise are inclusive business growth and building public-private partnerships – connecting the development sector with the private sector to increase sustainability and scale of interventions affecting the bottom-of-the-pyramid. She is also the deputy of the firm’s global ICT practice – leveraging technology to bring about social and economic development to underserved markets. Nava’s clients include the World Bank, USAID, several UN agencies, and large international foundations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the MasterCard Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. She has also worked with several Fortune 500 companies. Nava’s most recent work includes supporting the UN Women leadership team in developing their All-Africa gender strategy, in-part through a series of interactive workshops, and moderating a panel at a Capacity Africa conference on “Case studies for using satellites to extend digital connectivity to rural areas”. Nava is passionate about Africa and its vast potential, the power of the individual in bringing social change, and the Persian card game: hokm.

W. Gijs van de Fliert (USA)

W. Gijs van de Fliert is a seasoned professional with an international finance career spanning close to four decades. An effective team player, collaborator and mentor, he has an affinity to work with people of diverse backgrounds, temperaments and talents. He is a proponent of entities that promote the wellbeing of staff, the environment, and the wider community. In 2016, after a score and four, he retired from IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group. He lives In Maryland, where he now volunteers his time in coordinating local community building activities with an emphasis on the moral and spiritual prerequisites to unify diverse people in a common purpose of service to humanity.
W. Gijs van de Fliert – LinkedIn Profile

Monique Blokzyl (Germany)

As the founder of the Biz Launch Portal, I offer business information, tools, programs, speeches and workshops, and access to a community of high-impact entrepreneurs. Together with an expert team of industry leaders around the world, I provide what you need as an entrepreneur to start and uplift your own scalable business while having more freedom, more fun and making more money.

I am also an international speaker, trainer, coach and published author. I have won the Public Speaking Toastmasters competition twice on European level, and have shared the stage with motivational speakers like Sheryl Roush, political leaders like the US foreign minister John Kerry, the Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak and the former European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, and outstanding entrepreneurs like Branding Strategist Runa Magnus, JUMP founder Isabella Lenarduzzi, and many others. My podcast regularly attracts thousands of listeners from more than 60 countries.

To inspire and empower 1 Million people to turn their business idea into a profitable enterprise, and to scale it up globally … so we make life worth living for billions of people.

Jaleh Zandieh (Portugal)

Jaleh is a Passion Project Success Strategist and Mindful Movement Mentor, speaker & facilitator. She empowers conscious leaders and professionals to release the painful blocks that limit and sabotage their success. Her vision is to have the majority of women in the world become wise stewards of their energy, have the healthiest hearts and happiest homes so that they be radiant agents of positive change in their communities.
She believes that one vital key to improving the world is to empower girls and women— because when they are thriving, everyone benefits.
Jaleh´s signature systems Brilliant Heart Mastermind & HipHop Meditation global movements are currently empowering adults and children in over 28 countries.
Jaleh was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, studied in Philadelphia & China and currently lives in beautiful northern Portugal with her husband since 2012. She is fortunate to have found that she can feel at home in many parts of the world.

Jean Parker (USA)

Dr. Jean Parker is an action-oriented, global thinker and strategist. She earned her Ph.D. in the Management Of Technology And Innovation from the Da Vinci Institute of Johannesburg, South Africa and the Trans4m Center For Integral Development of Geneva, Switzerland. She is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the Trans4m Center For Integral Development where she facilitates academic excellence in the development of integral research and innovation around the world. She specializes in conducting primary data collection through participatory research methods to bring forth the knowledge of grassroots constituencies to promote human rights and social change.

Dr. Parker lived and worked in India for ten years as a radio journalist specializing in social development and human rights reporting. She reported on the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and this lead to her doctoral research on emergency preparedness education through community radio in North Indian villages. She enjoys applying the Integral Worlds Theoretical Approach developed by Lessem and Schieffer of Trans4m as an analytical tool to uncover the imbalances causing social upheaval and discovering the unifying strategies to correct these imbalances. She plans to apply Integral Worlds to gain a greater understanding of cross-cultural influences resulting from migration and refugee movement.

Jeff Lynn (UK)

After a career of over thirty years spanning the private, voluntary and public sectors, I’ve learned a couple of things:  I’ve forgotten most the things that I have been taught;  once I have a new perspective it’s a bit difficult to go back.  All my work therefore focuses on changing perspectives.  People come to my courses hoping that they’ll be able to apply some of the things that they learn.  They go away knowing that they have what they need to change themselves and their environment to be more efficient and effective in ways that they had never anticipated.

Katrin Stigge (Switzerland)
Katrin loves “wild thinking”, connecting people, thoughts and things. Katrin’s inspirations and ideas which she openly shares with others create an encouraging atmosphere of passion, options and urge to act.

Katrin shares a big  “courage to explore new ways” vision, encouraging people to think newly, feel newly and do things in a new way in order to get new results.

In her “corporate life”, Katrin held over the time of 15 years different roles of increasing responsibility in HR mainly in organisational and cultural development as well as in recruitment. Beside active mentoring the start-up time of a community, she introduced new tools as well as events to the organisation which were an important part of the company´s culture. Katrin strongly believes in mentoring as well as in co-creation.

Her list of awards include a global HR award, two awards in the field of Diversity & Inclusion as well as three as Game Master in “The Game”.

Katrin is highly interested in new ways of working and engages in the School of New Work “Les Enfants Terribles” (HappyMindfulDigital) and is a judge at the German Stevie Award.

Katrin lives with her partner in Basel, Switzerland. She loves to meet friends and new people to explore co-creation and to “go beyond”. She is an active runner and loves biscuits.

Dr. Athanasios Kriemadis

Dr. Athanasios Kriemadis is a Professor at the University of Peloponnese, Greece, teaching Strategic Planning and Total Quality Management. Educated in the USA specialized in Strategic Management (under the guidance of Professor Ansoff, the Father of Strategy) and Quality Management (under the guidance of San Diego Deming User Group) and worked in private sector (e.g. Motorola in San Diego, California) and public sector (e.g. University of New Mexico) in the USA. Former Deputy Rector of Financial Management at the University of Peloponnese and Head of the Department of Sport Management. Business consulatnt, Certified Assessor of the European Foundation for Quality Management EFQM Excellence Award and Certified Assessor of the Quality Management System ISO 9001:2008. Has published 9 Books in Management, 60 paper in INternational Business Journals and 200 paper in Proceedings of International Conferences.

Christina Kwok (Malaysia / Switzerland)

Before diversifying into intercultural skills training, Christina worked for three multi-national companies in the oil and gas, energy insurance and building industries and has a broad multicultural exposure to life on three continents. Born and raised in Malaysia, she is now based in Zurich, Switzerland.

Her special strength is applying her business acumen and intercultural expertise to help European business build better trust-based relationships with their Chinese/Asian counterparts, avoiding not only embarrassing faux pas but also costly failures such as serious loss of business and reputation. She also helps senior leaders develop effective global leadership skills so as to better lead and motivate their diverse teams across cultures.

Event Program

Click here to download the detailed flow of this four day event program

This was the first year that we live streamed all keynotes on our Facebook page.

Here are all the keynotes in chronological order along with accompanying descriptions.

Thursday, 4 May 2017: Opening Session

The journey begins – Presenting the event dynamic, the harvesting and exchanging of ideas that will take place, creating a dynamic of interaction with people at and outside the event. A welcome by ebbf chair Wendi Momen will be followed by an introduction to your personal hosts who will accompany you on this journey. We will share the flow we have designed for you, give you some suggested uses for your learning guide, inspire you with potential ways to harvest and exchange ideas, and discuss creating a dynamic interaction with people outside the event.

Thursday, 4 May 2017: Opening Keynote – Systems Science Beyond Diversity – Arthur Dahl

Systems science shows that the real signi cance of diversity lies not in the number of different entities and their differences, but how they interact. Diversity is the dynamic driver for greater systems complexity, integration and ef ciency. In a coral reef ecosystem or tropical rainforest, it is the increasing cooperation among the species expressed in mutual assistance and symbioses that make their high levels of productivity possible. Similarly, human diversity unaccompanied by values of justice, cooperation and reciprocity can produce the negative reactions we see today. Recent research has suggested that higher levels of ethnically-diverse civilization are catalysed by ethical values from religion, building trust and providing the energy for new levels of organization and ef ciency. Businesses and communities can follow this example. Recent guidance from the international Baha’i administrative body invites us to explore what a new economic paradigm might look like in practice.

Thursday, 4 May 2017: Evening Plenary – A personal story of diversity – Payam Zamani

Payam Zamani will share his personal journey, living his own diversity and then using his experience to build rich, creative and very innovative enterprises. You will enjoy a story telling experience complemented by an interactive conversation with the audience.

Friday, 5 May 2017: Morning Keynote: The biomimicry rule of Diversity: The paradox of doing wrong to achieve good – Dhairya Pujara

Pick any natural system or an element of nature and the key to its functioning is the diversity of the components that it requires to build ONE system. A talk designed using the speaker’s own personal experiences from India to USA to Africa and how a non-prejudicial behavior helped him build a small yet signi cant diverse team to build a business that delivers value to people. It will explore the themes of the difference between the intent of doing good and the act of doing good.

Friday, 5 May 2017: Afternoon Keynote: From the war of sexes to the alliance of gender? – Isabella Lenarduzzi

The OECD estimates that if the participation rate of women in the economy were identical to that of men, GDP would increase by 16% in 10 years. From a micro economic point of view, all studies show that the more mixed a company is in its decision-making positions, the higher the totality of its performance indicators. The more teams are mixed and the more the staff is happy at work and engaged. But can we make a company bilingual : women / men? How can we move from a culture that respects diversity to an inclusive culture … successfully?

Friday, 5 May 2017: How can we create the best personal attitude to feel comfortable adapting to new ideas? – Carl Emerson and Jaleh Zandieh

How can we feel comfortable in our own skin? What helps us be safe and sound to be able to work in a new way together? What needs can I see in my environment that I am not OK with? What help do I need to start action and how can I have my eyes opened to see the support to take me there?

Saturday, 6 May 2017: What can ideation and prototyping experiences unleash in diverse groups? -Stephanie Akkaoui

In a complex and changing environment, the traditional approach for developing and following vision may be inadequate. We do need a deeper understanding of reality. We have to practice a different approach to think and then implement new ideas fully harnessing the powerful diversity of individuals, teams and purposes.

Saturday, 6 May 2017: Afternoon Keynote: How to promote inter-generational collaboration that focuses on unity? – Birgit Peeters

Let’s ride on a roller coaster together : « No labels, just talents ! » is our common slogan!

Saturday, 6 May 2017: ebbf Annual General Meeting AGM – how can the global ebbf community now accompany your work?

After a summary of the impact of local and global activities and of the tools currently offered to accompany people like yourselves. You will experience an interactive large group consultation, that will show how to engage communities into meaningful action. Well beyond an Annual General Meeting, this will be an AGM meaning Annual Generation of Momentum and AGC Annual General Consultation. As part of ebbf’s focus on being a learning community, we will be creating the future opportunities of this organization, addressing practical issues, interacting with operational teams and creating the space for new ideas to emerge.

Saturday, 6 May 2017: Evening Keynote – There is no way to Inclusion. The way is Inclusion. – Fateme Banishoeib

Bringing home the inspiration of the day. A personal moving story of diversity and unity through inclusion. Going beyond showing inclusiveness creating dedicated groups representing so called minorities in the workplace, instead of seeing them as rare species that need to be protected, we need to apply inclusion. Acknowledging out implicit biases, the result of cultural and societal conditioning. We are all equals in having an implicit bias. A new awareness will help us take the right actions. Inclusion starts with Self. The parts we carve out in ourselves to conform are the same one we exclude in others. When we see the facets we neglect or exclude in ourselves we can focus on HOW to reintegrate them in our lives. It is then easier to expand it to others.

Sunday, 7 May 2017: Morning Keynote: Frontiers of Change – Preparing for Tomorrow – Tahirih Michot

We all encounter diverse frontiers in our lives. What are these frontiers? Where are the frontiers we want to move towards? In this keynote, we will explore the frontiers we connect with; identify opportunities to move beyond diversity to a different frontier; look at how we can expand and exercise our perceived agency in relationship to these spaces; and consolidate plans which translate our ideas into tangible actions. The session will draw on the presenter’s personal and professional experiences in South Africa as well as guidance from the Universal House of Justice. It will focus in on the signi cance of micro-moments, interpersonal space and collective rights. At the end, the audience will connect with their desired frontier and have a bridge to action on Monday.

Sunday, 7 May 2017: The Interview

We will interview three people who took part in recent ebbf events and ask them: “what actually happened to you on Monday, when you returned to your workplace after your last ebbf event experience?”

Latest News



Diversity contributes to stability, resilience and creativity, and is an important contributor to learning communities. (Arthur Dahl)

It’s like intuition: diversity is a potential that is worth exploring and using! it would be a shame not to use it, especially in the increasingly connecting world we are living in. Harnessing diversity enables individuals and organizations to get other perspectives and make better decisions for example. It helps to find accurate solutions that will last. (Charlotte Frederiksen)

Diversity leads to truthful understanding and valuable impact. (Wilfried Claus)

It makes you a richer person to include other points of views, it increases understanding and is so much more exciting than “one size fits all”. Imagine a rainbow with only 1 single color, how boring ! And because our true colors are beautifull like a rainbow…. (Birgit Peeters)

Creating this event I was able to discover how many different layers diversity has, how many different aspects it offers, and in this fast changing world, being able to capture, understand and harness diversity of views and cultures and capacities is a key element to build great organisations. (Daniel Truran)