I was privileged to be invited to talk about Ethical Reading at this conference, held at Friends House by Euston Station on 5th December. The theme of the conference was Trust and Integrity at work, and so I was contributing a short description of why and how we have set up Ethical Reading.

The conference was organised in a mixture of parallel and plenary sessions, which the organiser Bruce Johnson managed with aplomb!

The first, plenary, session was about building relationships of trust and integrity, by Joycelin Dawes, and What creates a field if truth? by Sarah James Wright. The latter included group discussions on the differing perspectives in an organisation and methods for sharing these.

In the next session that I went to, Professor Paul Moxey talked about “Following Carillon, can we trust corporate reports?” – pointing out that the last annual report before the failure painted a picture of a profitable, well-run and ethical company with good prospects. He also discussed how issues might get spotted and raised – and then squashed – as nobody would want to rock the boat – a audit firm values the business, the internal finance people value their jobs – what does it take to surface issues? As we have heard in one of our “Meetups” from Neil Thompson of Work in Confidence, whistle blowers nearly always suffer. What is needed is a speak up culture, in which mistakes are acknowledged and rectified early.

Rosemary Barr talked about the culture at Clarks, which has built a trusted brand and has an internal culture based on trust. Martin Lloyd talked about how a Quaker approach can help avoid mistakes in running a business, based on his experience among others of a co-founder and engineering director of a systems company – giving examples of unethical behaviour.

Frustratingly I was not able to be in the other streams as well! One stream explored Quaker businesses of he past and present and their contribution to corporate responsibility  – based on a book “Quakers, Business and Corporate Responsibility” to be published by Springer Press in early 2019. The other parallel stream had a number of contributions around the challenges of people in organisations in a time of change.

The final session was a wide ranging panel discussion, leading to the posting of participants answers to the key questions – what do we ask and of whom to promote greater trust and integrity in our business affairs?

The Quakers on Business Group will have the slides from the conference, in the New Year: https://qandb.org/ .

Gill Ringland, December 2018, gill@ethicalreading.org.uk