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

Q&B - News Update June 2019 - Management Committee Meeting, Wednesday 19th June 2019

The latest Quakers & Business Management Committee Meeting was my first – and also my first as Q&B Co-Clerk, and the first Q&B MC I have clerked. Many firsts!

The Committee also explained that the most recent recruit is usually asked to provide an account of their impressions of the Meeting for the Q&B website. So here I am, as the new girl, writing them up.

It was a proper work-out, testing clerking muscles I haven’t used in a while, and I ended it feeling invigorated and ready for more!

I joined Quakers & Business about a year ago. I was about to take on a leadership role at work and started to think quite carefully about how I should manage that responsibility. I had been involved with Quakers since my teens but it was a while since I had reflected on the Quaker Business Method. I decided to revisit it, and the notes I found on it spoke to my condition absolutely. I wondered if there was anyone out there who might offer support in applying it in contemporary business settings. An impulsive google search took me to the Quakers & Business website, I signed up, and I attended the York event last June, then the December conference. By then Q&B had advertised for a third Co-Clerk, I had applied, and shortly afterwards I was delighted to hear I had been nominated.

As my first Management Committee Meeting loomed, one of the other Co-Clerks, Wendrie Heywood, asked if I wanted to clerk it and I said yes. I was daunted, but also keen to challenge myself. By then, Wendrie and I had met a few times – in person and remotely, sometimes with third Co-Clerk, Karen Hanley – and Wendrie had taken a lot of care to bring me up to speed on current projects. Inevitably, however, everything still felt a little abstract. It had been a while since I had last clerked and I felt very rusty, but I knew that clerking would be the best way for me to feel connected with it all and I wanted to throw myself in at the deep end.

As I prepared for the meeting, reports arrived from a host of dedicated people and reading through them I was struck all over again by the range of work Q&B supports – including academic research, campaigns against unethical business practice, publishing resources on the Quaker Business Method and ethical management in a number of languages, and a series of networking events and conferences. On a practical level, I was seriously impressed with Wendrie’s ingenious way of inserting electronic links to each paper at the appropriate point within the Agenda document. It took me a while to master just how she did that, then to check the Agenda and the Papers and all the links between them an embarrassing number of times before I finally plucked up the courage to send them out.

The time of the Meeting arrived and I dialled into Zoom – nervously, and a little early. A few friendly faces peered back from across the ether, then a few more joined. Eventually we established that all those who were going to attend were present. We all gathered in silence - then I introduced the first Agenda Item and we were off!

My nerves increased slightly as it became clear that I was in the presence of people who all knew a thing or two about Quaker clerking, but then subsided as they also proved very patient and good-humoured. Wendrie provided some welcome prompts and I felt very well-supported.

Looking back through the minutes afterwards, when we’d all logged off, and I had taken some time to breathe, I felt very much part of the group for the first time. It had brought home the best effect of meetings – the sense of community they bring, as well as the benefit of information shared and decisions reached together.

I also reflected that I have joined Q&B at a time when our community has exciting opportunities for growth – and I don’t mean necessarily in numbers of members; the Strategy Day we are planning in September is designed to explore the Membership’s concerns and define our future focus and we are also appealing for new people to step forward to fill roles on the Management Committee and to help organise our forthcoming events. I am looking forward to being part of the process in discerning our new direction – and to no longer being the new girl!

Jane-Eve Straughton
Co-Clerk, Quakers and Business Group