2017 Quakers and Business Forum - 6/29–7/2 in Niagara, NY

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Seeking Joy as Quaker Business People: 2017 Quakers and Business Forum - 6/29–7/2 in Niagara, NY

Minute of Quakers & Business (Americas) Summit: 3–5 7th month 2015 in Cullowhee, NC

Approximately 30 friends gathered for the weekend before the FGC Gathering at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC.

We kicked off Friday with a presentation from acting clerk Karen Tibbals about her research into early Quaker businesses. Her main conclusions were that early Quakers were working hard to apply their faith to their business life, and wrote advices to be clear about what was expected. Despite those advices, there was trouble. After each set of trouble, new advices were created.

In the early 20th century, the British Quaker employers were facing censure by the Socialist Quaker Society and from the Eight Foundations of a True Social Order, passed by London Yearly Meeting. They met in 1918 to try to figure out ways to apply these principles to their businesses, but were not successful. A major factor behind that lack of success may have been lack of clarity over what it meant and how to apply it. But in addition, the adverse business conditions of the time that resulted in whole industries closing down in Britain, so many Quaker businesses went out of business. This may have been the beginning of the end for Quaker businesses. Karen ended by suggesting that working with the three key Bible verses used by early Quakers may help clarify a way forward. There was concern expressed by one participant that the Bible verses may be too Christocentric for some.

Saturday

Most of Saturday was spent learning Action Learning principles from Mike Marquart, watching them being demonstrated and then applying them ourselves. For the application phase, we worked in small groups, which were loosely organized by affinity—people who were in similar types of work, or who were at least interested in that type of work. Each group developed individual action steps (summarized elsewhere). The process was not natural and took getting used to but it was felt to be a useful process. The group discussed using it again in the future. The slides will be distributed to participants to help us continue to use it.

Saturday night was spent on the “One slide challenge”. We had many—around 30—presentations from the participants, including some who didn’t prepare a slide. This helped to draw the group closer together and we learned more about each other.

Sunday

We started Sunday by learning about the action items from last year’s Conference and what has happened with them. Some of the accomplishments were publications in Friends Journal by Richard House and Dan O’Keefe, and a list of resources complied by Lisa Smith. We also have a website, and a Facebook group. We discussed whether we wanted a conference next year (YES!) and perhaps a conference the following year to be associated with the FUM Triennial. Three committees were formed for the future:

2016 Conference organizing committee, Q&B Visioning Committee and 2016 Workshop Committee.

Download Summary Notes from the Summit [DOCX]


2014 Forum: Key Findings and Next Steps

Dear Quakers and Business (Americas) participants,

Thank you for joining us for the Quakers and Business weekend forum. It was the start of important work. There were some bumpy spots along the way, but we learned from each other. Lisa has the pages from the flipcharts created during the weekend and will be posting them soon. In the meantime, the following is a summary of key findings and action steps as we go forward.

Who we are

31 of us gathered from 11 yearly meetings, and 26 monthly meetings/worship groups. 12 came only for the weekend and 19 stayed for FGC’s Gathering. During the week of the Gathering, Karen & Chiyo heard indirectly that several of you came to Gathering for the first time primarily because of the Q&B weekend.

We were all interested in business, but discovered that our community encompassed a wide range of experience and opinion. Our numbers included: start-up & established entrepreneurs, active & retired business people, inventors, business development specialists, Friends from small, medium and large businesses, manufacturers, advisors and financiers. We included Friends of different political, economic and social perspectives. We came with our perspectives and passions and at times these differences raised emotions and tensions during our discussions. Our talks were honest and at times difficult. Ultimately, our differences enriched the conversation and our understanding as we experienced firsthand the meaning of the Gathering’s theme: Let Love Be the First Motion.

Major Goals for Q&B group

Through the course of the weekend we developed the following major themes/goals for our work together.

  1. Transforming Perceptions of Business & Money
  2. Building & Supporting a Quaker Business Community (including younger people)
  3. Investing
  4. Ethics, Faith and Values in Business

Actions Steps

We developed several action steps. These were categorized as short, medium and longer term priorities.

Short Term—Actions to be undertaken immediately:

  • Develop a Code of Conduct to provide ground rules for respectful interaction essential for in-person and virtual discussions. (Community)
  • Provide current business development links and resources on the website (Community)
  • Develop communications strategies (e.g. discussion forum on website, email listserve, LinkedIn) to support development of our business community (Community)
  • Forward Ray Dialo animation and put on the website (Perceptions)
  • Distribute or put on website the Milton Friedman videos that are on YouTube (Perceptions)
  • Explore strategies and pathways for young adults and others that support their leadings in business, including possible internships with Quaker businesses. (Community)
  • Create and Distribute a contact list with areas of expertise and willingness to answer questions (Community)
  • Contribute articles (approx 600 words) for Friends Journal business column (as suggested by Gabe Ehri)—profiles, stories of applying testimonies in business, business as ministry (Perceptions). After the weekend, Richard House felt led to organize this effort. Those who are able to contribute articles should contact Richard. The .

Medium Term—These are actions which will take more time to develop or organize.

  • Continue Q&B (Americas) meetings (Community)
  • Create Advisory Group for startups (Community). This will develop out of the website, contact list and other connections
  • Explore available and/or develop new curricula/presentations on business & money for 1st Day School (all ages) to demystify economics and provide context (Perceptions)
  • Explore available and/or develop new programs/presentations on business & money for high schools & colleges (Perceptions)
  • Share our stories in multiple venues that connect our spiritual lives with our business lives (Perceptions).
  • Guiding Principles for Q&B (Community/Ethics)
  • Listening to business leadings in our meetings; use clearness committee structure and business oriented queries in our meetings. We recognized that all meetings do not have members with business experience who might participate in such clearness committees. Members of the Advisory Group mentioned above could fill this gap.

Long Term—These are steps that are desirable in the longer term, but are not needed immediately or require longer gestation.

  • Create structure to support investment (due diligence, legal, etc) (Investing)
  • Funding for investments in Quaker or other profitable businesses consistent with Quaker principles.(Investing)

Working Groups

Two working groups were established to work on the most immediate initiatives. Participation in workgroups is open to all.

Discernment of Website and Communications

These Friends will work to clarify the best means of communications for the group to achieve our identified objectives:

Members: Andrew Thompson, John Stephens, Michelle Ajamian (convenor), Richard House, Wendy Michener, Joyce Ketterer

Support for Quakers & Business (Web Content and Resources)

These Friends will identify or create materials to support the Q&B goals. It is expected that, at a minimum, these materials would be placed on the website. These might include:

  • Resources for meetings
  • Support for Quaker Advisors
  • Resources (public & general) for business support. It is expected that this would be a listing of already available resources.
  • Code of Conduct

Members: Lisa Smith, Riley Robinson, Eric Peterson, Andrew Thompson, Paul Indorf, Richard House.

We need to create a third working group to plan and facilitate future in-person meetings. Several of the original organizing committee met on Sunday (Lisa Smith, Karen Tibbals, Chiyo Moriuchi, John Stephens and Andrew Thompson) and discussed holding a meeting in August to begin planning a 2015 conference. As Chiyo is starting graduate school in the fall, she will be taking a break for the next year. We encourage anyone else who wants to join us to let us know before then so they can be included from the beginning. We were informed by the FGC Long Range Planning Committee that it is likely that the next Gathering will be unable to facilitate/accommodate any pre-Gathering conferences due to constraints at the host location. We will need to identify an alternate venue for the 2015 Q&B Forum.

Other Conclusions

One of the original goals for the weekend was to create a “safe space” for Quaker business people to come together and build community. We realized that we have much work to do even among our Q&B group.We have a broad spectrum of people who are interested and wish to participate. We need to learn how to exchange ideas, respect individuals and disagree with kindness. We want to get better at this, at setting appropriate ground rules and learning how to hold each other accountable.

We want an on-going group that effectively supports business & businesspeople within Quaker circles to create a Q&B community.

The initiators observed that solicitations or “pitches” during discussions made others uncomfortable and caused concern regarding participants’ motivations. We propose that we create special forums for entrepreneurs to develop their business ideas and create opportunities to share these ideas with others who might be interested in supporting them. We would remove these interactions from our general discussions.

Young adults are an important part of the community and should not be segregated into a separate group.

We discussed formal affiliation with FGC. FGC provided important support that enabled the Q&B weekend to take place (registration, accommodation, venue, publicity, etc). We agreed, however, that the issue of formal affiliation is not yet sufficiently seasoned as we wish to allow time for the development of a cross-branch organization.

We do wish to build deeper ties with Q&B United Kingdom (UK). The website working group will discern what the most effective electronic links would be. We may wish to raise money to bring someone from the Q&B UK group to come to our next in person meeting. At this time, the Americas group is in a very different stage of development and has different concerns than the UK group so we do not propose a merger. The initiators propose that our group be “Quakers & Business (Americas)” so that we might include neighbors to the north and south of the US.

Later at FGC Gathering

Karen and Chiyo held an interest group on Friday of FGC’s Gathering. 28 people attended. We reported on the Q&B weekend event and invited their participation in future discussions. The gathered group expressed similar concerns and welcomed the initiatives we presented. Going forward, those who provided their email address will be included in our communications, so you may see names you don’t recognize.

We also found that the Q&B weekend event sparked a positive “buzz” at Gathering. There were good discussions surrounding Q&B concerns and many Friends who were not in business expressed support for these concerns. The Young Adult Friends (YAF) group also expressed interest in participating in Q&B events. They see our effort as a way to help them launch into the working world as they look for jobs.

So far (as of July 10, 2014) we have 9 responses to the survey. If you attended the weekend and haven’t given us feedback, please use this link to provide some structured feedback for the weekend. If you didn’t attend the weekend, but are interested, use this link to provide input into planning for future events. The forum working group will review the results in August.

And if you are interested in serving on any of the committees mentioned which will reach the original organizing committee.

Chiyo Moriuchi, Karen Tibbals and Lisa Smith


ESR Learning and Leading: Can religion be a part of business life?

Q&B’s Karen Tibbals writes about discovering the principles of early Quakers in business.