These Leaders Prove Big Business Can Make The World A Better Place

05/06/2015 04:38 pm ET | Updated Jun 01, 2015

To some business leaders, having a positive impact on society is just as vital as their companies' bottom lines.

The Business for Peace Award, presented Wednesday in Oslo, Norway, honored global business innovators who are creating value by both monetary and social measures.

Per L. Saxegaard, founder and executive chairman of the Business for Peace Foundation, wrote about about why it's important to recognize achievements by such businesses in a blog posted to The Huffington Post on Monday.

"Good business practice is dependent upon example," he wrote on behalf of the nonprofit, which administers the award. "We emulate what we are taught, and the foundation's mission is to show that a more enlightened approach to doing business can achieve the bottom line goal of profitability, while at the same time add value to society, and in fact contribute to stability and peace."

The contest winners -- selected by Nobel Prize winners in Peace and in Economics -- included Paul Polman, the CEO of Unilever and a sustainability advocate, and Poman Lo, Hong Kong-based group managing director of Regal Hotels International.

In recent years, Polman has led efforts to lessen Unilever's environmental impact, even as its corporate size grows: About 48 percent of the consumer goods company's raw materials were sustainably sourced in 2013, according to the Business for Peace Foundation. Unilever is aiming to make it 100 percent by 2020.

In China, Lo created Century Innovative Technology Limited (CIT) -- an entertainment-meets-education company focused on kids' education. Lo launched a collection of animated stories and a television show that aim to instill moral development in its young viewers, as well as an interactive website that uses educational games and content to empower children through learning.

Scroll below to see the full list of recipients of the Business for Peace Award:

  • Merrill Joseph Fernando, Sri Lanka
    Business for Peace Foundation
    Founder of tea brand Dilmah
  • Poman Lo, Hong Kong, China
    Business for Peace Foundation
    Group managing director of Regal Hotels International
  • Paul Polman, Netherlands
    Business for Peace Foundation
    CEO of Unilever
  • Juan Andrés Cano, Colombia
    Business for Peace Foundation
    CEO of Semilla, an ethics consultancy, and Value4Chain, a technological platform dedicated to sustainability management for businesses
  • Zahi Khouri, Palestine
    Business for Peace Foundation
    Helped launch the Palestinian National Beverage Company

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