According to your latest book, "Values: How to Bring Values to Life in Your Business", values can be integrated into commercial life and used to make businesses a success. How?
Every business has values locked inside it, some competing, some overlapping, some hidden, and yet we spend far less time in business considering how to bring out values that create shared meaning and momentum than we do about contracts, inventory and cash flow. As a number of outstanding enterprises that I look at in my book show, there is a toolkit to bring values to life in the context of any organisation and it is one that can touch deeply on the motivations of all involved. How to recruit for values, how to bring values into governance and board behaviour, all these can play a role on fostering business purpose and success.
The scandal of the Wells Fargo whereby bank employees opened as many as 2 million bank and credit card accounts that may not have been authorized by customers, has led to a huge public outcry and eroded the financial service industry's trustworthiness. What has caused this ethical breakdown?
The banking sector has lost all sense of whom it exists to serve. To be a bank is to be licensed to serve a community with the financial essentials any economy needs. Wells Fargo, and so many other banks, have torn up their ethics in pursuit of sales targets that are heedless of the needs of those they serve. It is as if water companies thought that they'd do better if they didn't have to remove the contaminants from the water they supply. It is a corrupted marketplace, and those banks that are serious on ethics, like VanCity in Canada and Coop Bank in the UK, are islands of good practice, but all too rare.
How co-operatives can bring change to the rest of the world?
Co-operatives are businesses that are owned by the people involved in the business, so they may be customer-owned, employee-owned or formed when suppliers, like farmers, decide to work together. Operating on a democratic basis, of one member one vote rather than one dollar, one vote, there is a natural partnership spirit in a co-op, and worldwide there are 1.6 million co-ops, working to a global code of co-operative and ethical values.
In regions where co-ops are most prevalent, there tends to be less inequality and more of a focus on values such as inclusion and community.
The arrival of well over a million of refugees from the Middle East has shaken the European Union again in its foundations. How workers' cooperatives can help tackle the refugee crisis?
The co-operative sector in countries like Turkey and Italy are actively engaging with incoming refugees and migrants, from worker co-ops forming to provide services in refugee camps, where the workers are refugees themselves, through to 'social co-operatives' where they are taken on as members and employees, the great contribution of co-operatives is always the values of openness and self-help. There is a need for state action, for charities, but also for co-operatives that are rooted in the lives and talents of those coming to Europe in times of need.
Cover photo: From The News Coop