How to be Good is a series of short interviews on youtube from Ely Cathedral. Each looks at a particular area of work. The first covered medicine, the second literature and the third, below, is on farming. There will be five conversations in total in the series.
They’re between the writer, Francis Spufford, and five distinguished professionals. They discuss what ‘good’ looks like in their working lives, how they negotiate difficult ethical territory, and how their professional ‘goodness’ is informed, challenged, or at odds with the Christian tradition.
In the youtube clip below Francis Spufford talks with Beverly Dixon, Group HR Director at G’s Fresh, discussing what it means to be ‘good’ in the farming industry. Below the clip I’ve summarised the background information on Beverly and the main points the conversation covers.
These clips look like they might be a good resource to use as a conversation starter for some sessions on work and faith. You probably won’t agree with all the points being made – but they do get you thinking about the issues in an accessible way.
Beverly Dixon is Group HR Director at G’s Fresh, a major agricultural business with its roots in the Fens. She has worked as an HR professional throughout the food supply chain and has created an extensive training framework to develop skills for people working in agriculture. She is Director of MDS Ltd and a visiting Lecturer at London’s CASS Business School. She champions sound ethical working practices throughout the supply chain, securing a reliable supply of seasonal labour. She is a Trustee of Rural Cambridgeshire Citizens Advice Bureau and joint chair of the Ely Cathedral Business Group.
Summary of the Discussion
Beverly talks about doing good in farming through the lens of people – and all within the context of her “People, Profit, Planet” headline. She describes an approach she uses in a commercial business where the operations, management and reporting focus – in equal measure – on people, profit and planet.
So under the People heading are issues like:
- upholding worker/human rights, watching for modern slavery (some 40m in);
- workplaces that people want to spend time at and where they develop friendships;
- jobs that have elements of inspiring work connecting with people’s values;
- employing people directly, paying a living wage earnt in a reasonable no. of hours;
- where you can’t directly employ – choosing agencies that share your values;
- helping people to improve.
Under the Profit heading are issues like:
- doing business so customers & suppliers want to engage with the business;
- not ignoring the obvious tension between profit and people and planet;
- recognising profit allows business to do good for people and planet;
- not generating profit at any cost to people/planet;
- helping regulators ID businesses with poor behaviours;
- investigating how technology can change jobs (e.g. soft fruit picking machines).
Under the Planet heading are issues like:
- making visible to customers the actions you are taking on sustainability;
- being aware of the effects of high intensity farming;
- using technology to improve traceability – where grown, who picked etc. etc. ;
- sensitive to how leading on good behaviour can err into sanctimonious attitudes;
- encouraging reponsible production & consumption of food;
- reducing food waste (remember the majority is at home).