Quakers and Business Group
The Quakers and Business Group was set up by British Friends in 2002, as a charity. Its purpose is ‘to promote Quaker principles in business and the workplace’. The group works on a wide range of projects concerning ethical and responsible practices, carries out research, runs events, and supports those with a business need or concern.
Its first publication Good Business – Ethics at Work was published in 2000 and updated in 2012. Currently i’s most recognisable projects are the forming of the Quaker Finance Trust and the Quaker Bank.
Membership is international and there is a LinkedIn Group that can be accessed from the website.
In answer to the questions What are we for? and Who are we? the website states the following:
“We promote Quaker principles in business and the workplace, because we believe they are good in themselves. This way, business earns a surplus and spends it - ethically. And, charities and public bodies deliver their services with ethics at their cores, too. Ethics means a practical, loving concern for the common good, physically, mentally, spiritually, rooted in collectively seeking the right way forward.”
“We are a growing network of Quakers and others; most of us are Quakers presently in membership and all of us are in sympathy with what Friends stand for in the world. We are ever open to the truth, wherever it is found. Some of us work in the charity and public sectors at various levels of responsibility, others in the profit making sector, where we are self- employed, own and manage our own business, or work for manufacturing or service companies.”
These aims have resulted in public statements on current issues of economic justice.
Quakers & Business run two main events a year in the UK: a Spring Gathering/AGM with one or more speakers and a highly participative Conference each autumn, which is usually held at Friends House in London.
Spring Gathering speakers have included James Walvin, academic and author of The Quakers: Money and Morals; Tony Stoller author of Wrestling with the Angel; Alistair McIntosh, author of Soil and Soul (2001) and Rekindling Community (2008); and more recently David Megginson, Emeritus Professor of Human Resource Development at Sheffield Business School.
Quakers & Business is a listed informal group within Britain Yearly Meeting. It currently has about 150 members and 50 associates, and is run by a management committee whose role is to coordinate the activities of a network of Working Groups, including Project and Research Development; Events & programmes; Communications; and Membership.
The Quakers & Business Group was formed in response to Susan Montgomery’s letter to The Friend (the weekly magazine of British Friends), dated 31/7/1998, called ‘Back in business?’
Briefly her thesis was that the Society of Friends in Britain had two major problems: inadequate funding and a dwindling membership. However it also shunned business and distrusted “for profit” business. By doing this, it limited itself and the good work the Society could do. Instead of being forward thinking, like early Quakers, it was in danger of being left behind by the world of business. Business know-how was particularly lacking in the following three areas: marketing, management of money and human resources. It was time to take another look at Quakers’ attitude towards the world of business, and to use the positive skills we can learn from this realm of life.