Andy Hepworth of Hepworth’s Brewery, near Brinsbury, was one of the speakers at the Blue Idol Quaker Meeting House earlier this month. The event explored integrity in our local communities, and Andy spoke about some of the challenges he has faced as a local businessman.
Organised as part of the Horsham Year of Culture, Andy was one of a panel of four who spoke about integrity in their professional lives. The other speakers were Michelle Betts, a social media consultant; Craig Brown, a retired doctor; and Jennifer Pearce, a retired politician. All spoke about the importance of personal integrity and how difficult it can be to maintain it.
Craig Brown spoke of the dilemmas of working in an organisation where the culture was one of covering up mistakes: “Doctors are not allowed to make mistakes. And a culture of blame and litigation can lead to high stress levels for young doctors.”
Jennifer Pearce said that the Cyril Smith scandal was an example of terrible things being covered up for years for political ends too. She spoke of the desire for power conflicting with some politicians’ belief in truth and integrity.
All agreed that honesty and transparency was the way forward, even if it led to some difficulty in the short term. Michelle Betts said that she would not work with companies that were using social media in a dishonest way, even if this meant losing clients. She follows up her consultancies to check that clients are following her advice and not breaking codes of conduct.
Hepworths Brewery has faced challenges over the years, but have survived them because of the support they have received from employees, customers, suppliers and shareholders. Andy explained: “This is because of the trusting relationships we have built based on honesty and transparency”. He added that they tried to work in partnership with their stakeholders, sharing their difficulties and working together to solve them: “The relationships break down if you try to hide things.”
Honesty is one of the values that the Blue Idol has been exploring this Summer. Other events have included a sustainability day, a look at simplicity, and a day on equality. The next Quaker value to be explored, peace and peacefulness using poetry, prose and performance, will be held on 10 August. Details can be found on the Blue Idol website: www.blueidol.org and Facebook: @BlueIdolQuakers