Quakers and Business Group
Promoting Quaker values in Business and the Workplace

Minute of the Quaker Business Conference 2012: Quakers Working Together

Annual Conference - "Quakers Working Together" - Friends House, London, 7th November 2012, #QBC12

'Our vision as Quakers & Business Group is to play a full role in enriching the business community for the benefit of the wider world; the people and environment on which business depends and has an impact'.

The conference gathered Quaker organisations and Friends who are engaged with business; whether they view that as positive or negative. We look to strengthen our impact on business as it relates to our individual concerns and testimonies. The conference provides an opportunity to share experience and draw on each other, during and following the conference, to find ways to work towards our vision. Our Co-Clerks are Nick Pyatt and Paul Gibson.

We began in gathered silence with opening worship. Our Co-Clerks had met on a number of occasions in recent months and produced minutes of Meeting for worship for planning. Key themes of these Meetings were the IDEAS market place, a Preparatory Meeting for discernment and possible outcomes – to reflect on our engagement with business and our impact on business in terms of our concerns and testimonies, allowing us to prioritise our next steps.

We reflected on the context for this conference. Last month, Quaker Peace & Social Witness hosted an event with Occupy Economics at Friends House in Euston, London with guest speaker Andrew Haldane, a Director of the Bank of England. He has responsibility for the Bank's oversight of the City of London. He spoke of the need to separate investment banking from retail and wholesale banking and to change the culture of greed within banks, for the public good. He praised the work of Occupy in winning both the moral and the intellectual debates. We recognise the work of Tax Justice UK.

We are reminded that yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the Cadbury Report, led by our Friend Adrian Cadbury, to promote best practice by our largest companies. The Report now forms part of the corporate governance of our largest companies and is as relevant now as it was then.

We watched the Ted video by David Siver on building community, not by traditional leadership but by one person, with a vision, looking after their first follower. This person then looks after those who follow in turn, to build community. We then heard four case studies:

  • Nick Pyatt, Occupy London Stock Exchange (LSX)
  • Mark Lockwood, Quaker Schools Project
  • Catherine Holland, Success Foundry, Mastermind Groups for business owners with integrity
  • Paul Gibson, The Quaker 'Bank' Project and The Social Stock Exchange.

These case studies showed us that our actions are not about type or scale, but about spirit. We discussed our own ideas in our small listening groups of three or four people. This was a time for reflection, comment and discussion. We were guided by a sense of the spirit and the potential of an idea, rather than its practicality. We registered any ideas we may wish to see taken forward in the IDEAS market place and also those who may wish to take those ideas forwards.

The Co-Clerks had an opportunity over lunch look at the width and depth of the ideas for the coming IDEAS market place. This was an opportunity for those with an idea and those concerned and interested in that idea to debate how best to take that idea forwards. We hosted four short sessions at each of five market place stations after lunch.

The market place was lively, entertaining and busy. We shared tea. We allowed these ideas to settle for discernment as we gathered in Preparatory Meeting. We heard that Friends would like to learn more about all the ideas in the IDEAS market place. We ask those who presented their ideas to send our Co-Clerks a 50-100 word summary by Friday 16 November 2012 for incorporation into a report of today’s event. We encourage Friends to share ideas which arise after today too, through our Co-Clerks, via Nick on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In our final session, those who supported individual ideas shared their support with each other and began to agree next steps. We have a strong feeling that this is not the end of a conference, but another step on our varied and rich journeys together.

We ended in gathered silence with closing worship and agreed this minute, wishing safe journeys home and hoping to meet again at our Spring Gathering and Annual General Meeting on 20 April 2013 in Sheffield.

Nick Pyatt and Paul Gibson, Co-Clerks
7 November 2012