Brainstorming on the word “Business”, what are the first words that come to mind? What about if you brainstorm on the word “Faith”? The two definitely overlap – for example, both are about honesty, integrity, the long term view, relationships.
Rev Dr Fiona Stewart-Darling, who leads the Multifaith Chaplaincy at London’s Canary Wharf, one of the big finance centres in the UK, spoke at our combined City Women and City Men lunch on 25 April 2016, asking the question, “How does faith impact on our working lives?”
After the credit crunch, Fiona was involved in a series of dinners bringing together a group of Christians, Jews and Muslims to talk about faith and integrity, facilitated by Director of the Institute of Business Ethics. This gave rise to the Common Faith Covenant as a positive framework for doing business:
- Live by the principles of openness, fairness, mutual respect and stewardship.
- Treat other people as you would want them to treat you.
- If necessary, have courage to speak up.
- Be accountable to God in all you do.
Recognising that we are part of a global economy, it’s important to realise that 84% of the world’s population adheres to a faith religion: faith is out there, it’s being talked about. So the Financial Conduct Authority has hosted a conversation about faith and finance; and Ernst Young has set up a religious literacy programme with its clients. The impact of faith goes beyond providing a workplace Prayer Room.
How can people of faith make a contribution? What does it mean to be a mature Christian in the workplace? In essence, it’s about “bringing my whole self to work”. As a minimum, I will turn up on time, do my best at work, honestly earn the salary that I’m paid at the end of the month. But being a mature Christian at work goes much further than that, embracing:
- Relationships, which are the heart of business – relationships with employees, clients or customers, shareholders, the wider community.
- The way we deal with mistakes.
- My response, when I receive an email that makes my blood boil.
- Acting as humanely as possible, if my work requires me to make redundancies.
- If my job is at risk, the way I handle the path.
Pick up the Bible and read the Book of Acts: you’ll find that the gospel is preached most of the time in response to a question. And read the conversation on the Emmaus Road (in Luke 24: 13-32), noticing how Jesus listens and asks simple questions. He journeys with people.