At a launch event at Thames Tower, Reading on Wednesday 24 January, more than 100 leaders of industry, organisations, local government and charities gathered to hear about the vision for Ethical Reading and how they can be a part of it.
The initiative will encourage a sea-change via meetings, seminars, training and education. With a mixture of presentations, group exercises and a panel session covering real world ethical issues in the workplace, the launch event provided opportunities to learn, connect and collaborate.
The idea for Ethical Reading was sparked at a Grant Thornton Live Lab event in November 2016. People from business, the arts, charities and the public sector were brought together to discuss how to shape a vibrant economy in the UK – a vision which realises the shared potential of businesses, cities, people and communities across the country.
Supported by Grant Thornton, Shoosmiths, Santander, Thames Tower, Reading UK, the Omaha Business Ethics Alliance and many others within the thriving Reading business community, it is hoped that Ethical Reading will be a catalyst for change across the country.
Jim Bignal, one of the founders of Ethical Reading explains: “We believe society can be positively transformed by organisations with deeply rooted ethical behaviour, who are strongly engaged with the community and who act in an environmentally sustainable way. In a transparent world with the spotlight of social media, doing business ethically is no longer a luxury but a necessity. As a community of organisations working together, we are aiming to transform the working lives of people in Reading and make it a very special place where we treat each other with respect and compassion.
“We want to see organisations empowering their staff to be agents for change and instilling ethical values into the DNA of their companies. We want employee happiness, well-being, respect and responsibility to be prioritised and ethical “champions” appointed. We never want employees to be asked to do anything illegal or unethical and we want to encourage businesses to become strongly engaged in the local community and to collaborate with each other.”
Jim Rogers, Practice Leader at Grant Thornton Thames Valley, said: “We are excited to be a part of Ethical Reading from the very beginning and as a business are fully committed to its values. We know that to make Reading a place where dynamic businesses can thrive, we need to realise the wealth of shared potential we can harness, if we work together, and believe we all have a part to play in bringing about positive change, promoting ethical business practices and community engagement.
“We can’t wait to see the long-term impact in Reading and hope that it will be the first of many cities in the UK to make ethical business a number one priority.”
Speakers at the event included Professor Beverly Kracher, CEO of Business Ethics Alliance, Omaha; Mark Cuddigan, CEO of Ella’s Kitchen; Supt. Stan Gilmour, Police Area Commander of Reading Borough; Yasmina Siadatan, Reading entrepreneur and winner of The Apprentice; Vicenzo Raimo, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Global Engagement at Reading University.