Engaging with the corporate world to discuss ethics

Two events challenging corporate leaders to think about the social impact of their decisions are to take place this July.

This July, Liverpool Diocese is to host two events that challenge business leaders to think about the social impact of what they do. On July 4th, the first in a series of Ethical Dinners takes place. Their aim is to explore ethical approaches to the social and economic challenges facing the Mersey region, drawing upon the experience and wisdom of Liverpool's social providers and faith-based agencies. 

On July 9th, Matthew Reed Chief Executive of The Children’s Society will speak on the question, ‘'Suffer the Little Children?' The Scandal of Child Poverty’’ at the next City Leaders’ Breakfast. Rev Keith Hitchman, Pioneer Minister, tells us more. 

Can you tell us about the aim of the City Leaders’ breakfasts?

The City Leaders’ breakfasts were originally called 'The Rector of Liverpool's Breakfast', held for more than 30 years at Liverpool Parish Church. When I arrived in Liverpool in 2010 Steven Brookes asked me to take on the organisation with a specific brief to re-imagine its shape and content for the changing city context. The breakfasts were re-launched in Autumn 2010 in partnership with the Anglican and Metropolitan Cathedrals and Liverpool Parish Church. The aim is to gather a cross-section of city leaders - public, private, third sectors and church leaders - around a theme or issue affecting the city and addressed by a significant national figure who is also an active Christian. Speakers have included Philip Blond, Lord Boateng, David Lammy MP and on July 9th we welcome Matthew Reid, CEO of the Children's Society who will be engaging with the urgent issue of child poverty.

Are the new ethical dinners an extension of the City Leaders’ breakfasts, or is there a different vision for these?

Whilst the dinners are similar in that they engage with social issues, they differ in that they have come about as a result of a working partnership between River in the City and The Knowledge Network. The ethical dinners are not specifically 'Christian' or 'Church-led' events but more about the Church partnering with other faiths and people of no fixed faith position in addressing ethical issues affecting the city- region. All of the speakers are also local or Merseyside-based. I see this as a 'Mars Hill'/Acts 17 approach to Christian mission in the city, which is interesting as they are held in the Athen-aeum Club!

The theme of the first dinner is 'Rebuilding Trust' – in what ways does trust need to be rebuilt with the business world?

There is a 'crisis in capitalism,' characterised by amorality, corporate greed, the bonus culture, and non-payment of tax. Trust in institutions, including business and finance, are at an all time low. What is needed is a restoration of the altruistic spirit of business (something that the Athenaeum Club, where the dinner is being held, was founded upon), and an approach to ‘Capitalism as if the world mattered' to use a phrase from Jonathan Porritt.  These dinners, and the city leaders breakfasts are important in engaging openly with what is wrong with the corporate world and how we can actively make a difference.

Are there plans for future dinners?

On Friday 27th September, Sarah Jones (CEO Mencap Liverpool) & Ruth Gould (DaDa - Disability & Deaf Arts) will speak on the theme  'Uniquely Different, Equally Valued', and on Wednesday 21st November  Pete Wilcox (Dean of Liverpool) will speak on 'Banking on Food'.