Articles

Michael Smith was a co-editor of For A Change magazine, with his colleagues John Williams and Mary Lean. Published by Initiatives of Change in London, it was launched in 1987 and ran for nearly 20 years. This encouraged Mike to write for British and international newspapers. Below are a selection of the articles and blogs written by him or about him. 

Despite Brexit, the UK remains part of the European ideal

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The European Union is far more than just an economic or political union. The EU, and the continent it sits in, is at its best a geographical, cultural and spiritual union between peoples of a great range of ethnic, linguistic, religious and cultural heritages.

Making Values Visible: Quakers and Business online forum

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Michael Smith was invited to represent Initiatives of Change during a two-day online forum on "Making Values Visible" run by Quakers and Business. He addressed the forum on 6 November 2020.

Indian publication carries review of 'Leading with Integrity' book

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ICB on Wings, the publication of Initiatives of Change in Business in India, has published a review of my book Leading with Integrity in its October 2020 edition. The book has beern published by Routledge in a special Indian edition. 

Blog: Duty of Care

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What do you make of the word duty? It’s not a word that immediately attracts or inspires me. It smacks of obligation, of having to do something that goes against the grain. Yet without it society would fall apart.

 

Book review: the great anarchy that overtook India

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William Dalrymple, the New Delhi-based Scottish historian, loves India. But he deplores the rise of Hindu nationalism under the Narendra Modi government. His latest book, The Anarchy, is a deeply honest acount of a shameful period in British history. It should be on the national curriculum in schools.  

Book review: The future is unpredictable but we can all shape it

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‘Small actions can make a disproportionate impact. You just won’t know, don’t know, till you try.’ So asserts Margaret Heffernan in her compelling new book. She poses two questions: ‘What do we need to do? And what do we need to be?’ The latter is as important as the former.

Empathy and Outcomes in an Age of Pandemic

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Bill Drayton, the founder of the Washington DC-based Ashoka social enterprise network, says that empathy is the number one quality of good business leadership. It's easier said than done....

Blog: The spikes we do need

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There may well be more spikes, more waves, in the Coronavirus pandemic. But what we do need are new spikes, new waves, of empathy and solidarity, integrity and compassion,

Leadership for a moral renewal in the economy

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“The way to transform the values is to show the leadership,” says Mumbai businessman Vivek Asrani. He was one of an international panel of speakers on “Leadership for a moral renewal in the economy”, broadcast online from the Initiatives of Change centre in Caux, Switzerland, on 26 June.

Blog: Music to love during lock-down

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The Covid-19 pandemic has been a blessing in disguise for me in one respect: I’ve discovered the cornucopia of online streaming music. This has led to new discoveries.

Blog: Controversial statues of saints and sinners

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Statues often reflect the cultural mores of the age in which they were erected. They are not necessarily saints; many were sinners. Today, what is needed is an acknowledgement of the victims of racial discrimination.

Blog: a white response to Black Lives Matter

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I am painfully aware that I, as a white British male, come from a race of people who have been white supremacists in our history and too often still are today.

Transforming the business world: visit to Australia February 2020

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Mike met the Australian MP Andrew Leigh in Canberra and spoke to an audience of 40 people in Armagh, the Initiatives of Change centre in Melbourne

Time for businesses to move beyond token CSR

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It is time for businesses to go beyond undertaking token Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes and focus on bigger issues such as how their businesses impact the environment and how they can incorporate measures to address climate change and global warming by taking in the interests of all stakeholders in the economy, journalist and author Michael Smith who writes extensively on topics of value in business and the economy said.

Mike Smith

Leading with Integrity: new book launched

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Mike Smith, author and former Head of Business Programmes at IofC UK, gave thanks to contributors to his new book; Leading with Integrity at its launch yesterday. He said: “The book wouldn’t exist without you. You are its raison d’etre, and the book is written in your honour.”

The power of availability

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As a 24-year-old, Darren Hildrow was ‘a hedonist on a downward spiral of drink, drugs and sex. I would drink to forget things I had done while drinking and grew to loathe the person I had become.’ Now 42, and the Managing Director of the jewellery arm of an international fashion house, Darren puts his change of direction down to his friendship with Stanley Kiaer, businessman, mentor, father figure and friend to all those who passed through the doors of the Initiatives of Change centre in London.

Former IofC volunteer inaugurated as Lord Mayor of Newcastle upon Tyne

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In a splendid ceremony in Newcastle upon Tyne’s Civic Centre on 23 May, Cllr David Down, a former full-time volunteer with Initiatives of Change, was elected as the Lord Mayor of the city for 2018-19. His fellow councillors added good-humoured banter during formal speeches in support of him. His wife, Barbara, who is IofC UK's head of personnel and IofC's webmaster, becomes the Lady Mayoress.

Michael Smith addressing MBA students in Chandigarh

Inspiring a future generation of business leaders in India

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Michael Smith, business author from the UK, addressed 70 MBA students and 70 computer engineering students, at the Chandigarh Group of Colleges (CGC), India, on 10 February. He was the guest in Chandigarh of Dr Ramandeep Saini, Head of International Relations and Associated Professor at the CGC Landran campus of 13,000 students, which was founded in 2001.

Five pillars of trust advocated to 200 business educators

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Journalist and business author Michael Smith, representing Initiatives of Change, advocated five pillars of trust in the economy when he gave the opening keynote address to the 31st annual Businet conference on 9 November. Over 200 business educators, including professors, academics, lecturers and heads of departments, took part in the conference, held in Vilamoura, Portugal, 9 to 11 November. Businet, founded in 1994, is a 'global business education network' with 102 member organizations of higher education in 31 countries.

Terrorist attack survivor fights extremism with peace

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'Breivik is just a man. I wanted to face him. I wanted to understand him as a human being not just a violent extremist,' Bjørn Ihler, a survivor of the Anders Breivik terrorist attack of 2011, told a captivated audience at the Initiatives of Change centre in London on 1 November.

Naga saga: the extraordinary story of Visier Sanyü

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Like millions of refugees around the world, Visier Sanyü knows what it is like to flee from violent conflict. He is an elder of the Meyasetsu clan of the Angami tribe from Khonoma, the village that was at the heart of armed resistance to foreign occupation in Nagaland. The mountainous state of two million people lies between Assam to the West and Burma/Myanmar to the East.

How companies benefit from ‘return on character’

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Surprise! Surprise! Those business organizations whose CEOs are character-driven outperform those organizations where the leaders are ‘self-focussed’ in their ambitions. It should be obvious, but it ain’t necessarily so. The ground-breaking thesis of this book is the research undertaken by Fred Kiel, and his team at the leadership development firm KRW International, which shows the clear link between character-driven leadership and performance.

Power to the People

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Chris Weston, CEO of Aggreko, says his company would never sanction "facilitation payments" to secure contracts.

Business students study ethics following lecturer’s light-bulb moment

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When Nathalie Ormrod from Manchester attended a TIGERoadshow—a day’s event on Trust and Integrity in the Global Economy—at Liverpool Hope University, back in 2013, it was, she says, ‘a turning point’ for her: a lightbulb moment. Ormrod, who is Lecturer in Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University, said she realised, there and then, that she needed to introduce the issue of ethical decision-making in business into her lecturers.

Busting a millennial myth: how the young find purpose through employee owned companies

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The millennial generation are said to be half as wealthy as their parents’ generation, because of the triple whammy of student debt, soaring house prices and increased taxes. Yet research explodes the myth that they are only interested in ‘doing their own thing’. Rather they ‘want to contribute in a meaningful way to an organization where their voices are more likely to be heard and where there are goals that are not just financial,’ says Peter Neville Lewis, co-author of a new report on the millennial generation’s attitudes towards employee-owned businesses.

Northern European nation enjoys freedom at the crossroads

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Latvia has enjoyed freedom from Soviet occupation for the last 25 years, short enough to be within living memory for older citizens, and long enough for a young generation to have grown up in political freedom. The country’s 500-kilometre boarder with Russian is only a three or four hour drive from the capital city. Twenty-six per cent of the population is Russian in this Baltic state.

How businesses are responding to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

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The business community had welcomed a ‘very inclusive process’ in drawing up the UN Sustainable Development Goals, said Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Vice-Chair of the United Nations’ Global Compact (UNGC), speaking in Caux, Switzerland on 6 July. The former Chairman of the Royal Dutch Shell Group and Anglo-American mining corporation was addressing a discussion workshop on ‘the ethical business response to the SDGs’, during the Caux conference on Trust and Integrity in the Global Economy.

Green Danes examine Pillars of Trust in the global economy

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Denmark is the world’s least corrupt country, according to the annual corruption perception index drawn up by the anti-bribery watchdog Transparency International. It is also one of the most environmentally aware nations. When 20 people met in the Initiatives of Change residential centre in Copenhagen on 28 May they looked at how to encourage the values that build trust in the economy.

Two-day forum held in Ampleforth, North Yorkshire

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‘Systems thinking’ and ‘quiet hunches’ lie at the heart of effective organizations, business leaders discover

TIGE UK delivers ‘pillars of trust and integrity’ presentation to 500 MBA students in India

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Over 500 MBA students packed into a huge auditorium in Pune, India, to hear Michael Smith, Head of Business Programmes for Initiatives of Change in the UK and author of the book 'Great Company', speak about 'Pillars of trust and integrity' on 20 January. He was accompanied by Talia Smith from Initiatives of Change's Trust and Integrity in the Global Economy business programme, and Saurabh Gupta, Director of Communications for Initiatives of Change International, who is based in Pune. They were at the Sri Balaji Society, one of the industrial city's top MBA business schools.

Great companies build trust and integrity into their operations, say panellists at book launch

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An ethical revolution in business and banking is crucial to prevent the world lurching into greater economic crises, said panellists at the London launch of a new book, Great Company, by business journalist Michael Smith on 27 October.

Conscience needed in banking and business, says author of new book

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Journalist and author Michael Smith urged the need for ‘conscience-based decision-making’ in banking, business and the economy when he launched his new book Great Company at the Caux Conference Centre in Switzerland, on 28 June. He was interviewed in front of conference participants by South African whistleblower Wendy Addison, whose story is one of many in the book, during the annual Caux conference on Trust and Integrity in the Global Economy (TIGE).

Conscious capitalism and spiritual wisdom

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Former senior Tata executive Anant Nadkarni, who has been a frequent participant in IofC’s business conferences in Panchgani, India and Caux, Switzerland writes under this theme in The Times of India, 2 June 2015. He references the new book Great Company written by Mike Smith Head of IofC UK Business Programmes in the opening paragraph. Nadkarni writes: ‘could the collective wisdom of business, governments, regulators, investors, leaders, and people of all types bring about better distributive justice?’

Sustainable Inclusive Economic Development

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Mike Smith, Head of IofC-UK’s Business Programmes, chaired ‘Sustainable Inclusive Economic Development’, one of four breakout sessions on 6 April at the Healing History conference taking place in Richmond, Virginia. Panellists from Scotland, Mexico, the USA and England showcased and discussed models of best practice in grassroots and national economic development, affecting people's lives - and job opportunities - for the better.

Twentieth anniversary of the Caux Round Table Principles for Business

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Describing himself as a 'can do' person, Robert MacGregor, from Minneapolis, Minnesota, told the Caux TIGE conference last night how he had been instrumental in launching the Caux Round Table Principles for Business 20 years ago.

Bradford's Peace Studies students go beyond forgiving

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The award-winning documentary film Beyond Forgiving, shot in post-Apartheid South Africa, is 'hugely humbling and stirring', said Julia Deakin, poet and lecturer in English Literature at the University of Bradford in Yorkshire. She hosted an evening in Bradford, on 22 May, with the film's two protagonists, Letlapas Mphahlele and Ginn Fourie from Cape Town, attended by students at the university's Department of Peace Studies.

Building a sustainable future in Richmond, Virginia

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On 15 March 2014 the Richmond Times Dispatch published an article by Mike Smith, Head of Business Programmes for Initiatives of Change UK, headlined 'Trust and integrity in the global economy', across five columns on its Op-ed page. The strap headline read: 'Building a Sustainable Future'. The out-take beneath the headline read: 'I find in Richmond an integrity of purpose in the city's determination to come to terms with its history in order to build a future on a sound basis of trust.'

Our Daily Bread

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The Lord's Prayer, if taken seriously, has the power to shape our lives and create destinies.

Book Review: The New Pioneers by Tania Ellis

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The new pioneers are those companies and organisations who are creating a whole new paradigm, a new motive, for business.

Leaders with good ethics are the key to changing irresponsible banking

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The best regulations in the world will fail in banks if carried out in a culture of greed.

An African Answer

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A documentary about an imam and a pastor, once enemies, now allies, who went to Kenya to help build peace has its UK premiere.

No enemies

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During a lifetime spent exploring and promoting the power of reconciliation and forgiveness following conflict and war, British journalist and author Michael Henderson has become known as an “optimistic realist”.

Angels and demons of our own

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Are we as honest as we expect our politicians to be? The crisis of parliamentary standards presents a challenge for all of us.

Crisis of confidence ignites a crisis of conscience, Credo column, The Times

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Never has a financial crisis focused so starkly on moral, ethical and even spiritual issues.

Tasting local flavour at Walkerswood Caribbean Foods, Jamaica

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Jamaicans may have been gripped by cricket World Cup fever recently but in Walkerswood the heat comes from the spices of the Caribbean kitchen. Tourists from the cruise ship destination of Ocho Rios take the drive up the twisting hill road to this village of 3,000 people to visit the food factory which makes the jerk (barbecue) seasoning that has become synonymous with the flavours of the Caribbean. Walkerswood's self-help projects aim to be a model for rural development, countering the drift to the big cities in search of jobs that plagues many developing economies.

Market leaders in trust and integrity

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A conference on integrity in Caux, Switzerland, brings together business professionals, farmers and journalists seeking ethics.

Surviving the tsunami

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It was only three days before the tsunami struck that Vijitha Yapa decided to give a day off to his staff of eight at his bookshop in Galle, though for the last 10 years they had worked on Boxing Day.

Workers' butterfly that aims to start a whirlwind

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How can enterprises better serve the wider community? David Erdal has a radical solution.

Training for the long haul

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Hakim Wais, an ethnic Somali of Dutch nationality, was snapped up as a driver within three days of his arrival in Sheffield.

Britain needs to get its international anti-corruption act together

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A ground-breaking agreement has been reached in the war against global corruption.

Indian industrial empire redefines bottom line

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India’s leading industrial conglomerate is producing social capital as well as profits.

Globalization.... as if people really mattered

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As Jose Maria Figueres, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, drives to his office in Geneva, he sees the cows grazing in the fields by the road. Each cow benefits from over US$2 a day in agricultural subsidies. The cows, he says, are better off than the world's 1.2 billion poorest people, who have to survive on less than $1 a day. Can big business and activists agree on fighting poverty?

Tata's army of volunteers

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An Indian industrial empire is producing social capital as well as profits.

Born again crops bring hope in Zimbabwe

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Poor harvests in 2002 and 2003 left millions of people needing food assistance. Last year Zimbabwe's farmers planted only about a third of their usual fields and the World Food Programme has designated Zimbabwe as a "hunger emergency zone". Food will be a major issue during the presidential elections scheduled for next month. Yet small-scale farmers are not without hope. They are benefiting from "born again" sweet potato plants, developed by a team of Zimbabwean scientists. T

Game plan

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How do you tackle social exclusion and regenerate deprived inner-city areas? Michael Smith on a radical Nottingham project to involve local people

Media make Sarajevo commitment

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Five years after the Dayton peace agreement, Michael Smith visits the Bosnian capital Sarajevo to attend an international media forum

Kenyan ambassador for peace

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Bethuel Kiplagat believed that Africa's development depends on peace and security.

The Bright Side of Black Monday

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Sophia Swire gave up a high-flying career in the City of London for the sake of illiterate children in Asia.

Incubating enterprise in the Black Country

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An initiative to create jobs in one of Britain's unemployment black-spots

"I lost my hate at Auschwitz"

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Polish exile Aniela Stepan tells how a visit to Auschwitz challenged her to lose her hatred towards Germany.

Making marriage work... for the sake of the kids

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As more marriages break up than ever before, children pay the price.

Dealing with debt shock

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When over 50 incidents of supermarket looting broke out in Rio de Janeiro and 20 other locations in Brazil recently, the people chanted, 'We are hungry.'