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The business of being good

ethical business PBRobert Ashton explains that there is more to a successful business than making profits.

Although raised an Anglican, I rebelled in my youth as so many do and declared myself an atheist. Over the course of my career however I found myself increasingly involved with organisations that set out to have a positive social impact. This was somehow more enjoyable although rarely as financially rewarding.
Just as Maslow recognised the importance of personal self-actualisation, so too does the business that focuses on a purpose beyond profit do better than the one that strives for profit alone. Of course you have to be able to cover the bills first, both as an individual and collectively as an organisation. But contentment, be it at home or work, comes from our ability to make life better for others, as well as ourselves.
There is growing evidence that any organisation, be it a charity, social enterprise, family firm or plc, that has a strong social mission is more resilient and more popular with its customers. Staff are more motivated too, and less likely to leave if they share a collective purpose that extends beyond profit.
Many of those I saw leading this trend towards social impact were informed and guided by their Christian faith. Religion has always provided an established and very convenient blueprint for anyone seeking to give meaning and purpose to their lives.  But what about business?
It takes little research to discover the Quaker tradition of doing ethical business. We all know that Cadbury, Rowntrees, Lloyds and Barclays all have Quaker roots, although sadly those values appear to have been largely lost.
I sense that the time is right for a return to more ethical business. There is an appetite for it that did not exist ten years ago. How can we as Christians encourage and support that trend?
The image above is courtesy of

Robert Ashton 640CF

Robert Ashton is an author, publisher, social entrepreneur and Quaker.


For more about Turnpike Business Centre, Robert’s ethical business centre, click here.



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Network Norwich and Norfolk > People > Opinion > The business of being good

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