News Update - September 2010
Q&B NewsUpdate - September 2010
Linking the Quaker business community
Writer this time:-
Hello, I’m Elizabeth Redfern. This was two firsts for me: The first time I have attended a meeting at Friends House using the Quaker Business Method, and my first Q&B Management Committee meeting.
I’m semi retired. I used to be the co-owner of a small software development company. Since the sale of the business in 2006 I spend most of my working time helping the owners of small businesses launch new products, and also act as a volunteer business mentor for the Prince’s Trust, Young Enterprise and UnLtd Connect.
I was impressed by how much was achieved in the time allotted. The meeting was well prepared, run and thus efficient and effective; a view expressed by a number of non-Quaker visitors at the end of the meeting. The Quaker Business Method provided a calm and respectful environment in which to work together. There was not the all so common emotional build up that you get in many meetings, and certainly no interrupting or outright disagreement with others. It was refreshing to be asked your opinion of a fellow participant’s contribution, and know that you could be honest without fear of being interrupted or looked at strangely.
So, to the meeting itself. There was a lot covered that is well reflected in the minutes (they’re on the website), so here I would like to highlight a couple of discussion threads that struck me as particularly valuable and, although not directly related on the agenda, were so when discussed.
Firstly, Eoin McCarthy proposed that the Q&B Group establish a Business Ethics course, effectively twelve two-hour evening sessions, held over six months in London, where the content would be based on and adapted from that already provided by the University of Gloucestershire. There is a belief that there is a real need for this type of course for those running their own businesses or those working/managing in small or medium sized concerns, and that although there are many management courses that include an element of business ethics there are very few dedicated courses. Recent publicity, especially the sale of Cadbury’s, has reminded us of our Quaker ethical business heritage, and so we are in a strong position to brand and promote this type of course.
After discussing and confirming our acceptance that the business ethics course was something that should be pursued, we were asked by Ray Sheath if there was another way for businesses to be run and structured: developing new business models and enhancing those from rare role model business organisations including Scott Bader and John Lewis, and some in the charity sector: The aim is to develop a new company structure based on broad ownership/trusteeship, or perhaps no tradable ownership at all. We were talking ethics again, both in business and generally in the world, and like the discussion on the business ethics course, the need to change mindsets and attitudes. I was struck by Ray’s experience and frustration of trying to change existing structures with little or no success, and that he was now moving to a new approach of focussing on mass dialogue to create a groundswell of innovation and change.
To finish, I don’t generally like attending meetings and when I do I get fidgety. By the end I am usually both mentally and physically drained. I wasn’t on this occasion, and this marked difference stuck me immediately. All meetings should be run this way, and certainly I shall try to practice and hone skills in this method in the future.
So, what’s Going On?
Join in via Social Media
Q&B website:- www.qandb.org - the Businesses Directory, contacting eachother, & more
Forthcoming main face to face Events are:
1 Improving Your Practice 2010 - Getting to New Light: Spirit based Coaching - for all who have others reporting to them, or who need to coach others in their roles. Deepen the foundations of your coaching skills and hone your sensitivity to the other’s plight. Charney Manor, 5 pm Tues 2 Nov – 5 pm Wednesday 3 November
2 Quaker Business Conference 2010 - Best Business Practice in Uncertain Times Under conditions of extreme uncertainty, what distinguishes Quaker business ways? Do they work better than others? Learn from others’ experimentally gained truths. Principal Speaker: Gillian Tett. Friends House, London: evening Tues 16 Nov – all day Weds 17 Nov
3 Q&B Spring Gathering & AGM 2011 – Ethical Futures for Businesses and Economies in a Sustainable World. Principal Speaker: Alastair McIntosh. Studying the desired new world economy and business reality, and exploring how our own business practice can evolve with it, to the benefit of all. Edinburgh Friends Meeting House, Saturday 2 April 2011
4 Q&B Non-executive directors and trustees Conference 2011 – Leadership in the 21st century. Q&B’s NxD event brings together change makers to discern what needs to be done - and how to do it. For the last two years we’ve studied money and business. Now, we’re looking at leadership’s contribution. Woodbrooke, Birmingham. Evening Mon 6 – all day Tues 7 June 2011
5 Q&B at BYM 2011 – Discussion Groups for BYM grownups and JYM members on Quakers’ work in the business world. Market place presence for Q&B to publicise ourselves amongst Friends. AND, hopefully, an experiment: a Quaker Businesses trade show cum market place, to show we exist and what we do. This is all to show Friends generally that the business world is to be inhabited, influenced, led by Friends’ testimonies, not shunned and demonised. Join us in making a splash in Canterbury. All during Fri 29 July – Fri 5 Aug
What Are the Working Groups Up To?
The Media, Events and Membership Working Groups are up and running, and A NEW Finance Working Group was set up, giving the Mgt Cttee a more strategic approvals and directional role. Here’s some of what they are for:
Finance WG: undertakes finance projects as requested by the Management Committee
Media WG: promotes Quaker principles particularly in the context of business and the workplace, attract and recruits new members, welcomes enquirers who do not yet feel ready to join Q&B as members, but wish to explore the possibility and connect with like-minded souls, increases the visibility of Q&B in the public domain, maintains and increases the effectiveness of our website and use of social media, creates the visual “branding” for Q&B – standard letterheads and formats for papers and documents, provides support for those wishing to access services online, and supports members and enquirers in their use of our established communications media.
Membership WG: arranges for the correct recording of membership details, the welcoming of new members, the reporting of numbers, and other relevant purposes.
Events WG: runs our major face to face events calendar, ensuring its internal coherence and external relevance to Q&B members, the business world and to Friends generally. Also explore other face to face events, venues and opportunities for Q&B and members.
Not a Working Group, BUT Your Noms Com: is ever active and – NEEDS YOUR LOVING ENERGETIC SUPPORT AND INPUT. NOW IS YOUR CHANCE TO ENGAGE, PLEASE
Each WG also oversees a number of Projects; we’re reviewing them, but the provisional list is below. More in December.
To join in the Working Groups’ core or project work, please contact their Convenors: Media – Jo Poole; Events – Eoin McCarthy; Membership – Paul Whitehouse; Finance – Alan Kirkham. Email addresses on the website www.qand.b.org
a) Finance WG projects:
- Creating a Quaker presence (previously called the Quaker Bank) in the finance space
- Building a business planning and organising Proforma for AM Trustees who seek one. (A request from the AM Support team in Friends House)
- Seeking dialogue with AM Trustees as they may desire on the nature of ethical investment, social investment and commercial investment. (The point is that AM Trustee groups are at varying places along the task of building their collective grasp of their new roles, and AMs in session are at varying stages in their evolution of their understanding of their and the AM Trustee role under the new AM legal arrangements.)
b) Membership WG projects
- 20th century Quaker Business History and its lessons for now
- Wealth or Riches** This one is where Q&B seeks to engage with big ideas generators in the business and economic worlds generally. For more, see foot of NewsUpdate….
c) Media WG projects
- our website’s evolution
- social networking media: linking us via Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook. Our Linkedin group now has 117 members, spread across the globe, with several discussions active each week.
- Strengthening the visual branding of Q&B
- Promotional strategy, with adverts as opportunities arise
- supporting and helping resource talks and presentations by Q&B members
d) Events WG projects
- our regular stable of our four principal, annual face to face events (see above)
- our presence at BYM each year
- the business ethics education course, to run with Uni of Gloucestershire
e) Management Cttee Oversight Initiatives
- The Tim Field Foundation: the Anti-bullying in the workplace Trust
Q&B is supporting in its formative phase, by helping with money raising and holding, with document and IT screening and writing, and personal nurture and sheer belief in the goodness and rightness of the cause. Adrian Melia is the owner of this Initiative
- Trusteeship in businesses – seeking an alternative form to the debt-fuelled PLC form of capitalism, and seeking how to create the mindset which will sustain the new business form. In it, we think, investment returns accrue to the community not to the private investor; wealth and power systematically tend to be decentralised into more hands and to the community, rather than tending to be centralised by the PLC system into ever fewer hands, over time.
Ray Sheath is the owner of this Initiative.
- Reissue of our green book – Good Business Ethics at work
Watch this space. We need contacts in Islamic and other faiths’ business ethics. Know any please?
Forthcoming planning and doing meetings
X) Management Cttee – Thurs 2 Dec, Friends House.
Contact Jo Poole, Eoin McCarthy or Tim Phillips to come. You’re welcome – do come!
Y) Working Groups – meeting by teleconference call
Please contact their convenor to join in
Z) Project teams – working by email, Skype, some face to face.
Contact the project’s WG Convenor to join in and contribute
Management Committee Activities
The main one right now is: Q&B Strategy and Activities – Alignment & Creativity
Our present Strategy (see website) is for 2009 – 2012. So, we are looking now at the reality – how well are we delivering it and how well is it enabling us to respond to opportunities to move towards our charitable objects of promoting Quaker principles in business and the workplace? Alistair Heslop is working on this gap analysis and new movements work. We hope it will lead to a refreshing and a focusing of Q&B’s mission and testimony. And also, that it will help us to a clear practical plan and budget for 2011.
To join in or for more, contact Alistair or Tim Phillips.
**More on the Wealth or Riches Project – Engaging the business world
Eoin McCarthy and John Nairn attended the 20/9/10 Financial Regulation Seminar run by the ACCA, where Eoin presented views on applied business ethics as a Q&B member. Another speaker was Avinash Persaud*, whose contribution John summarises thus:
Avinash argued that financial institutions should be regulated by reference to their risk absorptive capacity and not, as at present, by reference to their risk sensitivity. He identified three types of risk:
1. Credit risk: the risk of default. This can be hedged by pooling / diversifying exposure, for example lending to an oil company and to a wind farm.
2. Liquidity risk: the risk of not being able to sell quickly. This can be hedged with time.
3. Market risk: the risk of adverse price movement. This can be hedged with (i) time and (ii) holding inversely-correlated assets.
Institutions with long-term liabilities such as insurance companies and pension funds have a large capacity for liquidity risk. In other words they are well-placed to hold illiquid investments such as private equity because they will not have to sell in a hurry. However they are prevented form doing so by regulation that requires them to mark to market, in other words value their investments as though they might have to sell them quickly. A more appropriate valuation basis would be a weighted mix of mark to market and discounted cash flow, the longer the liabilities, the greater the weighting of the latter.
* Chairman of Intelligence Capital Ltd, a company specialising in analysing, managing and creating financial liquidity in investment projects and portfolios.
Cheerfully walking over the world,
Elizabeth Redfern – Writer this time
Tim Phillips – Q&B clerk
Issued: 5 October 2010