“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith patience, meekness.” (1 Timothy 6:10,11)
“Greed is good.” (Gordon Gekko, Wall Street, 1987)
Tony Blair famously ‘didn’t do God’. In fact, looking back at his premiership – what turned out to be an Indian summer of capitalism – it seems like the Prime Minister and the government were more about Gordon Gekko than God.
But there’s nothing like a recession to bring on a bout of repentance. Hard times root out the hand-wringing sinner in all of us.
The Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR) is a religious body set up to work for a responsible attitude towards the world of business, in comparison to the Gordon Gekkos of the finance world.
And the group will be holding a discussion in May at Carrs Lane church, in Birmingham city centre – featuring a former high-flying businessman who turned to religion after having an up-close view of how the bonus culture was changing the business world.
Patrick Gerard gave up a life in the international natural gas industry to become the curate at St Alphege, in Solihull. Father Patrick, as he is known to the congregation, wrote a book on how the bonus culture he saw as business planning manager for British Gas affected the approach to business.
“If someone’s being paid an astronomical amount it gets hard to believe they are running things for the benefit of the shareholders. That’s a very big and a very deep problem, and I think that’s why we have to move in the short term to a lower level of pay.
“Does faith matter? Definitely. I do think something we have forgotten in western society is how much what we have got is based on Christian ethics.”
Father Patrick is a member of the ECCR, which is organising the Carrs Lane event. It will also feature Chris Mallin, the professor of corporate governance and finance at Birmingham University. She will be speaking on the evolving role of shareholders.
nThe “Redeeming the market” ECCR event is free at 4.30pm on May 18. Performance & Reward, by Patrick Gerard, is available from Troubador on www.troubador.co.uk