Agape Workplace Initiative

News


Stress Relief
2nd Nov 2012
An international energy company has invited Jon Horne and the Agapé Workplace Initiative team to facilitate four seminars on stress. Jon had a chance encounter with someone who had valued a different training course that AWI ran for the company ten years ago.

Jon explains: “That training was about helping people to verbalize their faith at work. So I hope the stress material lives up to its predecessor.”

A previous participant writes, “The stress course didn’t try to replace existing stress management courses that we find in our own company.”

Jon continues, “Rather than focussing on stress and managing it, we’ll explore what the emotional cords that run through the rope of stress tells us about our relationship with others. Then, having done that, we’ll seek to harness those emotions for growth. How might anger become forgiveness, anxiety courage, and envy gratitude? Such growth, after all, helps us to become more resilient to stress in the first place.

If people can begin to interpret their stress in terms of what it tells them about their relationships, then we will have succeeded."


Sexual Awkwardness in the Workplace?
16th Oct 2012
There's a kind of awkwardness in the air at the moment regarding our sexual norms. That certain children’s entertainer who has been posthumously revealed to be a sexual predator has given rise to the questions about why people didn’t speak up, and why those who did weren’t listened to. The questions have been met with a sort of bemused and wide eyed confusion… as if to say, “Didn’t you know? That’s just the way the workplace was in the eighties…” or even “it’s still kind of like that now, isn’t it?” We find ourselves in one of those embarrassing moments where different parties realise they had different ideas about the social norms… about the sexual norms.

It seems to me that, while there is an agreement against all things illegal and paedophilic and such, there is a general acceptance of generic misogyny. And, in fact, the rejection of one and the embracing of the other are often juxtaposed directly, by way of emphasising the idea that there is certainly no connection between the two. I am of course talking here about the Page Three tradition of the tabloid press. How can we feign shock that nobody paid attention to the women who were molested by Jimmy Saville, when today so little attention is paid to the women who have been harassed and molested by men wanting to see their “page threes?” How can we feign shock at a culture of misogyny in the 70’s and 80’s when today sexual predators are shamed across the page from a ridiculous image of misogynistic eye-candy?

The No More Page Three campaign has been gathering steam over the last month or so. If the current embarrassing awkwardness tells us anything, it is that this petition needs to go through all of Britain’s workplaces. Daily newspapers have such a huge normalising power and we desperately need to move decisively against this kind of culture now. It would be devastating if after all this we did nothing, and women continued, decade after decade, to be seen and not heard.
Fighting poverty with your business skills
18th May 2012
Last October, we ran a "Kingdom, Commerce, Calling" conference together with our friends and partners in the Transformational Business Network.  Now they are running a conference in London, and if you're interested in using your business and professionals skills to fight poverty then why not sign in to the TBN conference on Friday 25th May. Through mentoring and training emerging entrepreneurs, helping establish a business or investing, you can bring transformation and combat poverty, and this conference will show you how you can get involved in a movement that is using enterprise to end the grip of poverty throughout the world.

Hear inspiring case studies and keynote speakers including Howard Taylor (VP, Nike Foundation), Vivina Berla (Director, Sarona) and Steve Beck (CEO, SpringHill). Receive practical guidance, network with business leaders and learn how your skills can bring transformation to the poor.



Why no response?
26th Mar 2012
Dear Apple friends,

I am surprised to have received no response to my letter of February 9th, nor to have had my voluntary overpayment to help the Foxconn workers paid in. Can you please confirm that you received it, and reassure me that your non-response does not signal any lack of intent to improve the conditions in the supply chain which now includes your new ipad?  Please assure me that you agree that 38% compliance with your working hours policy is absolutely not acceptable.

My best wishes

Phil
Join the Apple Needs Your Money Campaign
1st Mar 2012
Come join our Apple Needs Your Money campaign to help challenge the maltreatment of the Chinese factory workers who are making our stuff. It’s very easy…

When the terrible conditions of the Foxconn workers (who build a third of all our electronics: Apple, Dell, Microsoft, Sony etc.) hit the news, it was easy to feel helpless – what could we do?

Phil’s odd idea was to write to Apple and donate £10 to them. This is to demonstrate that we would gladly pay more for products that ensure fair treatment of the workers involved, and also to recognise, in repentance, our own daily role in a system built on slave labour. The letter specifies that the donation is specifically given towards justice for the Foxconn workers. The letter also recognises the absurdity of this donation to a company that sits on close to $100bn.

So Phil just posted this letter with his cheque into the local Apple store. Then a few of us decided to follow suit…

Since then many others have decided to do the same. We encourage you to join us in sending this message to Apple. Here’s how:

You can print the letter here, adding the date and your own name and email.
• Just enclose £10 and pop it into your local Apple store. Do it by yourself or go as a group. Easy.

If you have an interesting experience doing so please tell us about it on the AWI facebook page.

There has been much protest on the issue, but we think this jarring expression of grace and personal repentance might have a distinctive message. Perhaps Apple might be woken up to thinking about their fundamental purpose in the world, rather than just making a minor change to their profit margins.
We're complicit and We're sorry
23rd Feb 2012
Can Apple change the world? Does Tim Cook want to?
21st Feb 2012


“The work itself isn’t inhumane—unless you consider a repetitive, exhausting, and alienating workplace over which you have no influence or authority to be inhumane. And that would pretty much describe every single manufacturing or burger-flipping job ever".


Joel Johnson’s first hand description of the working environment at Foxconn a year ago hits the nail on the head. Terry Gou’s city-like factories have created a showcase for the combined dehumanizing effects which riddle the culture of the manufacturing industry.

Not so long ago a former employee of a well known manufacturing company spoke to me of the dehumanizing effect which had slowly crept up on him over the course of twenty years. He had been a senior manager, but whether you are on the giving or receiving end of oppression, no one who works in a dehumanizing culture is free from its effects.

The terrifying thing for the Foxconn worker, unlike the worker I spoke to, is that there is no escape. They eat, sleep and watch TV at Foxconn. Terry Gou has thought of everything – except the heart cry of the human spirit. When you see him curtly dismissing the suicides as lower than the national average and therefore not problematic, you have to wonder whether Foxconn culture will ever change.

And therein lies a massive challenge for Tim Cook at Apple. Given the enormity of his dependence on Foxconn, will he have the courage to turn his back on this giant supplier if that’s what it takes? Will he invest time and money building an alternative supply chain to the one he himself was responsible for establishing? How many years of Foxconn failing to meet standards will it take for Tim Cook to jump ship? And is the recent appointment of the Independent Labour Association an attempt to lower the bar or to raise it?

Let’s be clear, Apple is no worse than its competitors, probably a lot better. But the eyes of the world are on Apple, and a dramatic, courageous move for spiritual leadership right now would have global repercussions. Tim Cook needs our support and encouragement. We at AWI are ready to give it, whether that's in the East or the West. Will he rise to the challenge?

written by Phil
Apple needs your money
13th Feb 2012
Apple Store, Bull Ring
Level 3, Upper Mall West
Birmingham, B5 4BU

9th February 2012

Dear friends at Apple,

I have been shocked to see among the recent flurry of articles on the appalling conditions at the Foxconn factories in China, an indictment against me, saying that until customers care more about working conditions than they do about low prices, nothing will change.

If I am culpable, I wish to make amends. I therefore enclose a cheque for £10, the suggested difference between making an ethical iphone and one under the present conditions. In the interests of transparency, I am posting this letter at www.awi.org.uk in case others wish to follow suit. We have always held up Apple to our business students as a model of good leadership and perhaps they will want to help too.

Of course, this £10 is given with the clear understanding that you intend to change things at Foxconn. I am convinced that a company with your concern for people and creative thinking will be able to turn around this problem quickly. And I look forward to reading about the fruits of my investment on your website and in the press as your success in this venture will undoubtedly come to their attention.

Perhaps you will consider too using some of your $98bn cash pile to seed strategic change, but please let me know if you think I am not paying my fair share and I will spread the word.

My very warm regards

Phil Jackman
Director, Agape Workplace Initiative

P.S. Don’t waste my money on independent inspectors. You have investigated the problem enough. Take a lead. You have the power.
This Post is Sponsored by the Global Slave Market
24th Jan 2012
A remarkable stand-off occurred recently between employees and management at the huge Chinese manufacturing company Foxconn. These are the people who make all our Apple stuff, Microsoft, Dell, Sony, Nokia, Samsung, Acer etc. In fact, they manufacture about a third of all the electronics we use in the west – including the computer I am writing this on, and quite possibly the one you’re reading this on.

So it was that 150 Foxconn employees took their stand on a factory roof, threatening mass suicide if their managers refused to renegotiate their working conditions. In 2010 fourteen employees followed through and died in a similar stand-off, and now many Foxconn factories are rigged with nets to curb the suicide attempts.

Foxconn employees (who number in the hundreds of thousands) are working minimum shifts of twelve hours a day at 30p an hour. They are patrolled and filmed to make sure they’re working in silence as they piece together our phones and laptops with their fingers in long, long human production lines. There are workers as young as twelve, and at night they don’t go home, they bunk up in cramped dorms on factory grounds. This is their life. This is my computer. This is your phone.

Frankly, I’m at a loss. Are Microsoft and Apple less to blame than Foxconn? Am I less to blame than Apple and Microsoft? Can we imagine any way of living and doing business that doesn’t rely on this kind of slavery? I don’t know where to start, besides repentance. All ideas welcome.

More on the story here

Redeeming Hermes
9th Jan 2012
Hermes is the Greek god of both commerce and threshold – of movement from A to B. The Hymn to Hermes was written (around 420 BC) as Greece moved from an economy marked by the exchange of agrarian goods between kin to one that encompassed commerce between strangers for profit.

From Hermes we also get the word “hermeneutics” – the art and science of interpretation. So when one missionary writes, “the church is the hermeneutic of the Gospel”, he means that the church is to interpret the Gospel to the world. Literally, the church is to embody the Gospel as it moves into the world and, by doing so, the church is to invite the world to move into the Gospel.

At the threshold of the City what words will we use to communicate that life cannot be reduced to commerce between strangers for profit? Life comes to those who welcome strangers out of love [Matthew 25:31-46].