News - October 2016
New member report and reflections
This report is a set of invited reflections from a new member to Q&B. I attend Lancaster Meeting in the North West of England and lecture at Lancaster University Management School.
I attended the Quakers and Business Group Management Committee meeting on 14 October 2016 at Friends House in London. The meeting was held in the Abraham Darby meeting room.
It was the first Q&B management committee meeting I had attended after recently joining the group. I felt welcomed with many coming to introduce themselves. I attended the meeting specifically because I have recently become a member of the Q&B’s Academic Research Working Group. I am interested (along with Nic Burton, who was presenting the working group’s Terms of Reference), in the Quaker Business Method.
Although I am relatively new to Quakers, the clerking at the meeting approximated the closest I have witnessed to what I have read about being a clerk at a Quaker business meeting. It was thoughtful, helping the agenda along and action oriented, writing up the minutes on a laptop and reading out the draft minute during the meeting. Lots of different items were discussed from a very detailed agenda.
On the way home to Lancaster from London, I remembered a section in Quaker Faith and Practice which I had been pointed to by Ben Pink Dandelion a few months earlier. It struck me at the time and I re-read the section when I got home. It is Quaker Faith and Practice 23.16:
The war of 1914–18 made Friends more vividly aware of the close connection between war and the social order. Nine months after the outbreak of war London Yearly Meeting was impressed by the words of John Woolman: May we look upon our treasures, the furniture of our houses, and our garments, and try whether the seeds of war have nourishment in these our possessions. After three years’ exercise of mind eight ‘Foundations of a true social order’ were adopted. They were not intended as rules of life but as an attempt to set forth ideals that are aspects of eternal Truth and the direct outcome of our testimony to the individual worth of the human soul. Though they proclaimed the ending of ‘restrictions’ of sex, they spoke of God as Father and human beings as men and brothers, as was conventional in their time.
This is, in my view, a really striking section of Quaker Faith and Practice for anyone interested in business. I wonder how and if this might contribute to our understanding business in the twenty-first century?
2016 has been a year to mark 100 years of conscientious objection. Quakers have had a significant impact on industry and business particularly in Britain and America. But Quakers are less interested in business and commerce than they once were. I wonder whether 2018, to mark the end of the First World War and the writing of the eight ‘Foundations of a True Social Order’ might be an occasion for Quakers to remember actively their role in business and take forward a vision of business of our age? If there was interest in this, how might Q&B contribute?
I really enjoyed the meeting and plan to attend again in the future.
Martin Brigham - Lancaster Meeting