Strengthening commitment to globally responsible practice
Oasis worked with Bettys & Taylors Group in a Collaborative Inquiry to further strengthen the commitment to globally responsible practice across the whole group.
Bettys & Taylors is well-known for its strong socially-responsible, environmental approach. Along with some striking and award-winning schemes, such as the Yorkshire Rainforest Project, there have been projects to strengthen relationships with producer communities; to increase recycling and to reduce food miles, waste, energy usage and carbon footprint.
Ideas have been generated and implemented either by local green champions within departments or by the inspirational leadership approach of former CEO Jonathan Wild.
Although proud of this track record, the company wanted to build on its achievements and create an even higher level of engagement.
Exploring how to embed ethical, values-based practices
To explore how ethical, values-based practices can be consistently embedded across the business, 11 participants from Bettys & Taylors joined Oasis on a Collaborative Inquiry. The Collaborative Inquiry explored how to find new ways to consistently promote and implement a strategy across the whole group.
Those taking part were from all levels of the business. Criteria for selection included their current scope within the business to inquire and experiment within their own spheres of influence.
The inquiry-based approach
A Collaborative Inquiry allows people who are interested, keen and committed, to find creative solutions that they either could not have come up with alone or would not have been able to implement on their own without the mandate of the inquiry.
The approach was chosen to mirror the collaborative practice required on a global scale to meet the challenges facing the planet. It also offered a new way to explore cross-functional issues.
An inquiry-based approach offers those involved the opportunity to bring their own interests and concerns to deepen their understanding and practice by working in collaboration with others.
Within each monthly cycle, each participant identified a question which reflected their current understanding and engagement with the inquiry.
These questions were checked and validated by peers within the group – the quality of the inquiry depends on the rigour and aptness of these questions.
The questions were then carried into the weeks before the next session, to be researched in the workplace or elsewhere as appropriate.
At the following session, the individual learning added to and created a collective increase in understanding.
This collective understanding was then used to shape the next cycle of individual questions.
An inquiry-based approach thus ensured that those involved were mutually responsible and accountable for their learning – an ideal methodology given the “bigger than self” issues contained within globally responsible practice.
Inquiry questions included:
- “I want to know what the business understands globally responsible practice to be.”
- “I want to know how I can support the conditions for globally responsible practice to flourish.”
- “I want to know what needs to change so that globally responsible practice seems part of the way we all do our job.”
Freeing up those with influence and commitment
The inquiry freed up people with influence and commitment to work out how to fully integrate business behaviour that takes into account the impact of the company’s activities on society and the planet.
Responsibility, like leadership, is a contemporary focus for the public and private realm.
As the intended and unintended consequences of the actions of leaders, governments and business impact on our lives there is a sustained call for those in power to be accountable for their decisions and subsequent impact.
The inquiry approach itself demands that those involved are individually and mutually responsible and accountable for their learning, so in this way the method mirrors what is called for in life.
Having learnt how a Collaborative Inquiry works, the Group will now be able to apply the same cross-functional approach to other questions.