Engagement with civil society and politics
- Reframing the world the workplace depends on
- ‘Integrating’ social justice across all sectors
- Partnering to enable ethical change
Reframing how we go about our business
Good Works is about reframing our perceptions of the world – sometimes even inverting them. We believe that a ‘business that is just’ has a horizon which is much wider than ‘just business’.
Business does not exist in an idealistic bubble as an end in its own right. The reality is that business is interdependent on everything around it and that includes civil society. And the same goes for other important sectors of our economy and society, not least health, social care and education. We all accept to a lesser or greater extent that all organisations across all sectors share a higher purpose which is often referred to loosely as ‘social justice’ but it has proven difficult to integrate ‘social justice’ into the strategies and operations of organisations in these sectors. Some people would argue that such an integration of social justice could be counterproductive but others are already experimenting.
Rethinking corporate governance
In Canada and the USA there is innovation in the field of corporate governance with the creation of the ‘public impact corporation’ which has social objectives written into its constitution which are then monitored alongside revenue and profit. This innovation may yet prove fruitless but it is a recognition that the prevailing model whereby private and public corporations do their wont and then leave charities and social enterprises to pick up the pieces, is not really working.
Bankers don’t monopolise bad ethics
The status quo can be catastrophic. Not just banks that are described by their own industry leaders as ‘socially useless’ but also NHS hospitals that lose their compassion such as the infamous case of Mid-Staffs Hospital. Good Works believe it is quite clear that just more regulation, inspection and centralisation are not the answer because they are part of the problem in the first place in that they render managers as something akin to disoriented robots.
There is an alternative
Good Works believe the alternative is based on good ethics. This begins with the dynamic relationship between the principles of The Common Good and Human Dignity but it is enabled by other principles, such as Subsidiarity, which empower decision-makers who are the closest to the problem. This principle has been core to military education for almost one hundred years – Commanders communicate their intent and delegate to the officers below to work out how best to carry it out. This concept is summed up as the ‘strategic corporal’ Read more (add link to Blog with Lord David Richards).
Partnering to reframe civil society and politics
Reframing the way we organise our affairs in organisations is a huge undertaking which is why we are keen to help develop, promote and knit together other initiatives that are based on Good ethics and impact directly or indirectly on the workplace.
We have found a lot of common ground with the Together for the Common Good project (T4CG). This organisation has a wonderful ecumenical heritage that can be traced back to the landmark report ‘Faith in the City’ and it is busy working both in Parliament (across party lines) and in civil society (across Faiths) with a diverse network of organisations on exploring and experimenting on new forms of dialogue that can unite different stakeholders around a higher purpose.
Adopting good ethics is like giving up smoking – it starts today rather than tomorrow. We also believe that we need to start by living these concepts today rather than arguing over definitions or utopian visions of the future if The Common Good held sway. Because that is to miss the point – good ethics are an attitude of mind, heart and hands. And as T4CG are ‘learning by doing’, that starts with engaging with others in a spirit of collaboration based on trust rather than competition based on fear.
We would also like to mention the UK Values Alliance. The UK Values Alliance is a collaborative group that is seeking to promote values in society. Its members are individuals and organisations who are either interested or active in the field of values – Personal, Organisational or Societal. Click here for their website. We also feature the Alliance on the webpage about Corporations.
Good ethics direct us to ‘walk the talk’
Good ethics is not about some remote ideal design for society itself like some Friedmanesque or Stalinist vision of the future. Good ethics are not meant to be for a hypothetical tomorrow. They are meant to help us make routine decisions today… at home, at work and in the civil and political bodies that organise our world.
A great example is the charity Just Share which campaigns in the heart of The City of London and represents a coalition of diverse charities like Fairtrade and churches like St. James in Piccadilly. Just Share is the first organisation to partner with Good Works to pilot a new symbol for ethics. Click here to find out more about this pilot.