Sector 4 Focus, my consultancy company, is ten years old in autumn 2020. But I’m now 66 and ‘normal service’ won’t be resumed any time soon, so S4F quite possibly won’t be here in another ten. Details of three current books are below. Let me tell you how S4F has been using the tools of business to create public good recently:
A few highlights…
I helped create Fair for You CIC, five years ago, providing fair and affordable loans with excellent customer service to low income families in need of household appliances. Without us they would either go without or get ripped off. Providing loans to those who can’t access mainstream finance, our social enterprise halves the poverty premium of our customers. This independent report shows that we’ve produced £50M of social value so far. Fair for You is growing, despite the virus crisis, and we’re looking after our vulnerable customers. So proud! I’m a Non-Executive Director and I chair the charity that owns the CIC. We’re supported by Fair 4 All Finance, Big Society Capital and several other social investors and charitable foundations.
I’m the non-academic co-chair of the Taskforce on Business Schools and the Public Good for the Chartered Association of Business Schools. My co-chair is Professor Martin Kitchener of Cardiff Business School. Our delayed report will be published in early 2021. Half of the team come from business schools and the rest from business, government and elsewhere.
BS8950 ‘Enhancing Social Value’ is a new British Standard to help practitioners create social value and assess it objectively. It will be published soon. I’ve been on the core writing team at BSI, pulling it together under the leadership of Jeremy Nicholls (Social Value International). Now let’s see a stronger 2012 Social Value Act, to make sure that all procurement has a positive impact on society and the environment!
Earlier this year I was invited to join the advisory board of the Centre for Responsible Business at the University of Birmingham: here’s our annual report. In the past three years I have delivered my Company Citizen talk to over 50 audiences, in businesses, universities and networking groups. I was on the sustainability advisory panel for WBA (Boots) for three years and I’ve been on many conference platforms – for RBS, Experian, VSO, Social Value UK, Mastercard, Rotary International and others.
I chair the board of the Coalition for Efficiency, a charity dedicated to making small charities more effective by Measuring the Good. We’ve just appointed three great new trustees.
2020 is my second year as a ‘sustainability and responsibility’ judge for West London Business Awards. I do consultancy work with other clients, corporates, SMEs, social enterprises, charities and government, though opportunities have been limited since the lockdown. This has led to lots of sourdough bread baking, walks in the park and every episode of Spooks. Just like everyone else!
Books, plays, novels, too!
The Company Citizen (2018) is a rallying call for business as a force for public good. It won praise from Paul Polman, then CEO of Unilever, the world’s most successful purpose-led business. There are 20 (free) ten-minute chats on the issues raised, between me and former BBC journalist Linda Lewis to accompany the book, for those who pod.
‘Never has the case for business to step up and help solve society’s challenges been greater. And rarely has it been better put than in this excellent account’
– Paul Polman
The launch party for The Courage to Meddle: the Belief of Frances Perkins got cancelled in the March lockdown. It’s a biography of FDR’s most loyal cabinet member, the mother of the New Deal and the most important woman in global politics in the first half of the 20th century. It provides a unique analysis of the impact of her work in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s on the world today. Watch out for the first Frances Perkins lecture at Toynbee Hall in March 2021 (virus permitting). The first eight people to review ‘Courage’ on Amazon gave it 5*.
On a lighter note, here’s my brand new novel! The Spine Politic is a a political thriller – for only £5.99 (or £2.99 on Kindle). Who or what is Spine? Can a retired detective prevent a major political outrage?
And finally, if you missed my 2018 Camden fringe play, a Brexit farce called PowerPlay, the whole 50 minutes is here, on You Tube, for free. (One of the actors, my old schoolfriend Clive Stubbs has since died from coronavirus. He played the part of Conservative MP Charles King – on the left of the picture).
Looking forward to 2021!