Quakers live in accordance with four core principles, or testimonies: Honesty and integrity, Simplicity, Equality and Peace. These testimonies are not imposed, but guide their personal and professional lives.
1. Honesty and integrity
The most important word to remember in all business dealings is ‘integrity’. Integrity is essential to developing trust: People act with integrity when they are not moved by opportunist or self-seeking impulses and their response to a total situation can be trusted. Integrity involves being open, honest, truthful and consistent with your beliefs and values in all business dealings.
The whole of business requires trust, faith and goodwill. Establishing trust is a critical factor for success.
Are you honest and truthful in all you say and do? If under pressure do you lower your standard of integrity? Do you resist pressure?
Do you do what you promise, even if it is just to return a phone call?
The most serene and happy people are often those who live a simple life. By contrast, stress, overwork and insecurity are rife in today’s pressured world of business. In business, as in our personal life, we can be consumed by our own desires for more, as well as by the demands of others. The practice of simplicity helps us to eliminate the superfluous and to put first things first. This requires strong principles, focused vision, deep understanding, clear communication and deliberate action.
Do you make time to review your priorities? When faced with conflicting demands, do you look at them in the light of your priorities and endeavour to put the more important things first?
Do you scrutinise your desires and consider how you might simplify your needs? Are you easily persuaded to buy something you do not need or cannot afford? Is there a need for lavish entertainment or expensive offices? Can you achieve the same objective in a different way?
Can you simplify your processes and procedures and still accomplish your business purpose?
All people are of equal worth and deserve to be treated as such. Discrimination is divisive. Be alert to practices here and throughout the world that discriminate against people on the basis of who or what they are or because of their beliefs.
Do you respect and encourage diversity as a source of energy in your business?
Do you refrain from making prejudiced judgements about others?
When recruiting, evaluating or promoting employees, do you differentiate on the grounds of age, gender, sexual orientation, skin colour, religion, nationality or dialect, or any other characteristic that is not related to job performance?
If an employee has a disability, do you try to find work that they can do effectively? Do you make alterations in your working methods and workplace to help them? Do you help them to overcome their own difficulties.
Conflict happens, and will continue to happen, even in the most peaceful of worlds. In business, as in the rest of life, how we deal with our own anger and how we find peaceful solutions to conflict are important. What matters most, however, is to work towards creating a culture of peace overcoming the potential for all war and strife. This requires searching out anything in our conduct of business which might contain the seeds of war or otherwise threaten life.
Quakers believe that there is good in everyone. This leads to one of their most strongly held beliefs that it is wrong to kill anyone and therefore all forms of war are wrong. Conflict should be pre-empted through active peace-keeping and, when it does flare up, should be resolved while preserving respect for all concerned.
Avoid doing any business which promotes warfare in any form.
When you disagree with a colleague, customer or supplier, are you willing to consider that you may be mistaken? Do you give others the benefit of the doubt?
When you are angry, do you act in a destructive manner, or are you able to express your anger in a way that allows a solution to be found?
What is your fundamental attitude towards business? Do you believe that success is achieved primarily by overcoming the competition at any cost?
Does your company earn any income from practices which threaten human life?