Social responsibility in photos

Through a College research grant and with support from our Diversity Plus Team, I have been able to commission a photographer to take photos illustrating social responsibility at Bradford College, and make the photos into posters.

This builds on the internal reports I have written over the last year, but it is still a tall order: how do you take photos that show social responsibility?

We have aimed to get a mix of the amazing diversity of activity, and to focus on group shots. Social responsibility often happens when people come together – staff and students, community members, partners. We asked people to look at the camera, and the result is an exhibition of nearly 30 images which is being displayed in different parts of the College.

I hope you enjoy the images (if you hover over the bottom right hand corner of each slide, you’ll see an arrow that lets you move through the presentation. Otherwise, lower down, there are Scribd’s control buttons):


School students are inspiring ambassadors for Anne Frank exhibition at Bradford College

Bobby Brough and Afsa Bibi are both in the Sixth Form at Carlton Bolling School, Bradford. They are also are ambassadors at the Anne Frank + You exhibition that we are hosting at the College this April and May, explaining to school groups some of the details of Anne’s story and, importantly, its relevance today as crimes against humanity continue.


Bobby (on the right) and Afsa (centre) showing a school group round the Anne Frank + You exhibition at Bradford College

“I knew about Anne Frank from history and English GCSEs,” Afsa says. “I’d read her diary. I said I’d be an ambassador here at the exhibition first of all because it would be good experience and good on my CV. But now I’ve done the training and started showing people round, it has affected my thinking greatly. It’s made me realise how much I care about the world, and that I need to let people know that and share what I am finding out.”

“Being an ambassador is good,” Bobby explains. “You have to simplify the story so young children understand it. What’s happened, what’s changed, what still needs to change.”

“I learn something new every time I take a group round,” Afsa adds. “There is stuff I didn’t realise – touchy, difficult things – about how isolated Anne’s family were, and how they died, and about the atrocities that continue.”

Bobby feels strongly about the relevance of Anne’s story today and, in particular, the continuing presence of genocide. “Social media needs to inherit history and make it more mainstream,” he says, “so that what happened in the past doesn’t happen in the future. Two thousand people have died in Darfur since 2003, yet that is not in the news. In Burma, there is repression, and that is not in the news either. If it is not brought into the light, it continues.

“There should be campaigns,” he adds. “Google sometimes changes its home page to mark a big event – it should mark a genocide day in that way.”

IMG_0736I asked them both which images in the exhibition have had most impact on them.

Afsa: “There’s a picture of a little boy looking for his parents. I find that very sad, it always affects me when I see it.”


Bobby: “One of the things that really gets to me is a picture of a child holding a gun, with a pink fluffy teddy bear bag on his back. You wouldn’t know he is a child, but the teddy bear shows there is innocence there. That gets me.”


Both say the exhibition has affected them deeply.

“I could never imagine killing someone,” Bobby says. “I used to want to go into the army, but if you fight the Taliban for instance, you are not killing the Taliban but people forced to fight for them. What has that individual done to you?”

Rolf Mason, Bradford College Multifaith Chaplain, is also involved in the exhibition. “It gives us a fascinating glimpse in to Anne Frank’s ordinariness,” he says, “and also what made her so extraordinary. The exhibition puts Anne and her family into a contemporary framework, and this increases the power of its moral message for our students and other visitors. She did what she could do, and we need to do the same. Having young people act as ambassadors, guiding people round, is a very appropriate way of communicating the continuing importance of fighting prejudice and bigotry.”

Afsa is planning to study finance and accountancy, and Bobby aims to become a civilian pilot: both say they hope to continue to help bring about change and to help people who are suffering.

“It’s a small thing, me presenting the exhibition, but I hope it has a tidal effect.”

The Anne Frank + You exhibition is organised by the Anne Frank Trust UK, and is on at Bradford College’s  Yorkshire Craft Centre until 9 May. It is open every weekday with discussion sessions on Thursday afternoons. School and other groups are welcome, as well as individual visitors. Find out more.


Anne Frank exhibition ambassadors Afsa Bibi and Bobby Brough with Rolf Mason, Multifaith Chaplain at Bradford College.

 Interviews and photos by Ruth Wilson, Bradford College.

Update: 30 April 2013
Our College Principal, Michele Sutton, has asked me to share this recent news item from the Jewish Telegraph. “We are very proud of the efforts of everyone involved in this important exhibition, especially the young ambassadors,” Michele says. “We hope the College will continue to be a place where bridges can be built between the past and present, and between different communities and generations.”


Young entrepreneurs at Bradford College go ethical and launch a student business start up society

After reading Khosro’s article about teaching business ethics, I decided to find out about teaching business ethics in practice. Our very dynamic Students Union President Piers Telemacque told me about an Enterprise and Entrepreneurship class, and I went along for a visit.

This class is doing something special: each student has to set up and run a business, from scratch. It’s a new EdExcel BTEC Level 3 National Diploma, and some 25 Further Education students are taking part this year. As they research and plan their businesses they have to consider their personal values and how those translate into business values, and they have to write an ethics policy.

Apparently its got the class thinking. Is profit more important than anything else in business? Is it fair to tax small enterprises? The students are drawing up plans that include employment without discrimination, fair pricing and environmental awareness.

In addition, this class has done something collectively that is both novel and a great idea. They have set up a Bradford College Enterprise Society as part of the Students Union. They aim to get enterprising students together to run fundraising events (some have already taken place, including for charity). They are looking for (and getting) outside sponsorship. And they are applying for a grant of £400 from the Students Union. Once this is secured they will run a Dragons Den, giving £10 start up money to small student enterprises. The money is paid back with interest so other enterprises can apply for start up support. What a brilliant plan!

I met three founding members of the Society: Jon (Secretary), Tashinga (Vice Chair) and Ben (Treasurer). They each have a small business in the pipieline. Tashinga and his friend Danny have launched a local marketing service, offering virtual marketing and leaflets across the College and neighbouring university. Ben is going to help a College teacher market a ‘cave bus’ that tours local schools giving them the experience of pot holing.

Jon and Harrison are running a tuck shop at the College gates, because students want sweets but don’t have time to go out to the local shops (sweets are not on offer at our various excellent cafes). I asked about the ethics of that – are sweets good for you? They said, cleverly I thought, possibly not but the profit they make will be able to fund other enterprises and ethical projects.

The lecturer on the course is Noel Clayton. He studied at Bradford College, and he’s been an FE lecturer here since 1983. A decent innings! “This is a wholly new course,” he says, “and it’s great to get in with young people right at the basics of setting up a business. When I look around, I see a lot that is wrong or unfair in the world of business, and it feels good to help students think about that. I have always admired ordinary people who stand up to powerful forces, and setting up a small business is in a way doing just that.”

“In life, you have to think about what you’ve done, and whether you’ll be happy with it in the future,” he adds. “In the midst of a recession, this course is showing that students can have lots of creativity and they can achieve good things.”

Check out the student posters and find Neil in this photo.

In an organisation, it is not sufficient to feel you are an individual with integrity.

These are my concluding reflections on the report ‘Real Integrity’, the second half of which focuses on strategies that help organisations to instill a culture if integrity (see my first blog entry on the report here).

The report explains that the environment we are in profoundly affects the ethical choices we have to make, and our capacity to make – and to act on – such judgements. In an organisation, structures, incentives, deterrents, processes, procedures and conversations all impact on our integrity. It is not sufficient to feel you are an individual with integrity, the authors say. The organisational environment matters too.

The  report analyses the perceptions and reported experience of interviewees and survey respondents from the various participating organisations and it it reviews some of the research already published in this area. It comes up with five inter-related techniques to promote and encourage integrity in organisations (these are set out in a helpful diagram on page 35).

First and foremost is ‘tone from the top‘, including ethical leadership and clear values. The other strategies are unlikely to work unless this is in place. Of corse the values must be clear, real and embedded.

If individual integrity is ‘the result of an on-going series of decisions with ethical dimensions’ then it ‘is vital that organisations support ethical decision making‘: this is another of the five techniques (p35). The ways to achieve a culture of ethical decision making include codes of conduct (something I’ve written about quite a bit on this blog), good advice and training. The word ‘good’ is important here – some training is seen as ineffective and off-putting.

Promoting openenss is another of the five techniques. This requires an open culture where information is shared, issues can be aired and the gulf between the top of the organisation and its staff is not too great. A whistleblowing policy needs to be in place as part of this but the more general tactics are key. I wondered about feedback on the outcome of disciplinary procedures – this is so sensitive an area, and decisions may be reached on the basis of information that cannot be shared.

Managing incentives is the fourth technique: this consists of rewards and disciplines. It is hard to reward integrity, but including ethical behaviour in appraisals seemed a good proposal to me.

Monitoring is the final technique. Its one I struggle with as I work on my internal report for Bradford College. Integrity manifests itself in diverse ways, and monitoring can be resource intensive. Techniques, perceptions and assessment of consequences – intended and unintended – are all on the menu, through qualitative and quantitative methods.

I found the action points on page 51 particularly helpful, including (in summary):

  • provide genuinely confidential advice
  • advertise sources of advice outside of the line-management chain (eg mentoring scheme, using professional bodies, external experts as sources of ethical advice, and
  • don’t give the impression that seeking advice is only appropriate where there is a clear, definite concern.

I have a friend who is a philosopher and trained logician and I love getting his advice. The thought of having someone wise and funny on hand to support me officialy at work is delightful – but on second thoughts, I am fortunate that so many of my colleagues and superiors fit this description!

Integrity – “doing the right thing when nobody is looking”

There’s a new research report and practical guide out, on promoting integrity within organisations. Last Tuesday I went with my colleague Margaret Naylor to the launch of ‘Real Integrity’. I am up to Chapter 4, so this is first thoughts. It was a good evening – with Jim Baxter and other authors present from IDEA at the University of Leeds, Elizabeth Higgs from ICAEW (sponsor) and speakers from Marks and Spencers and elsewhere. The title of this blog post is something said by one of the speakers (Charlie Dawson of the Foundation). (Download the briefing and full report.)

The researchers have identified a four-fold categorisation of individual and organisational integrity: wholeness of character (being consistent in what is said and what is done); identity (a recognisable ethos/ethical brand); ethical values; and standing for something (this requires awareness of the wider social context). Consistency, trust, openness, fairness are words that come up a lot.

At the launch, several people referred to the shock of events such as the collapse of Enron, MP expenses scandals and the current crisis in banking. These sometimes sudden exposures of corruption shake our belief in the integrity of organisations, and also show how important it is. ‘Intuitively’, the report says, ‘integrity is perhaps most easily identified either when it is absent or when it is severely tested’ (p5).

The research took a really interesting approach to exploring the concept of organisational integrity – the process included giving interviewees vignettes to discuss, with descriptions of people behaving in particular ways. The researchers asked for comments as to whether the protagonists in these vignettes  were showing integrity or not. For instance, a Nazi who puts his cause above his family; someone who overhears professional misconduct and does not report it. An online survey was completed by enough organisations to enable a quantitative analysis of, for instance, the relationship between ‘perceived integrity’ and size of organisation. Small organisations with 1-10 employees score highest for perceived integrity, with larger organisations appearing to have less – though intriguingly, integrity appears to begin to increase again in very large organisations.

Leadership comes out as a key force for integrity: ‘tone from the top’, the consistent use of fair and transparent procedures, fostering a culture where ethical behaviour is valued and encouraged, and where ethics can be openly discussed. HR also plays an important role, though there was passionate debate about this in the question time. Is HR primarily about performance? (Or perhaps compliance?) Or is it about instilling and enacting values and ensuring fair, open processes in recruitment, promotion, grievance and more? See page 5 in this 2009 CIPD publication – ‘There is a debate on the need for HR to play a greater role as ‘chief integrity officer’.

Having just been looking at codes (see last post) I was interested to read the definitions of integrity that Real Integrity sets out, such as ‘following the spirit as well as the letter of the law’ (p5). The authors make the interesting point that integrity cannot come from adhering to rules for their own sake. So scrutiny, legislation and enforcement may persuade people to be honest, but they do not guarantee integrity. Although they note the importance of integrity in the professions, the authors don’t comment on the fact that such professions are licensed, and that this gives the professional codes of ethics more bite.

It made a lot of sense to me. Since the launch, I’ve been pondering what my behaviour is when I am alone, and what motivates or conditions what I do when no one is looking… The motivation for integrity is going to be addressed in the second half of the report, which I will read over the coming days. I think the publication overall is certain to help us at Bradford College as we review organisational ethics and look for next steps.

Bradford College mission and values

It seems good to start by stating the College vision and values. These are set out in our Strategic Plan 2010-2015, are based on consultation with stakeholders, and appear on our website and in various other documents.

Bradford College Mission: To help students from the region, nationally and internationally, achieve their potential and make a rewarding contribution to their own communities.

Bradford College Vision for 2015, as articulated by its students: to provide the skills and knowledge to help access careers and improve life chances.

The college prides itself on being student-centered, and we have seven ‘E’s which sum up our core values:

Employability: The College from which employers actively seek students who not only have the subject knowledge of their course of study, but the wider skills required for today’s work place as well as good levels of literacy, numeracy and IT literacy.

Equality and diversity: An open and welcoming College where equality and diversity is celebrated and promoted and discrmination challenged. Where staff and student communities reflect the demographic of the local population and where students are prepeared for work in diverse labour markets.

Enterprise: The college with a reupatation for supporting entrepreneurship and producing entrepreneurs.

Enrichment and Entitlement: the college where student enrichment opportuntiies and entitlement to employability skills are regarded as a source of compettitve advantage.

Environment: the College that educates students who can contribute to the sustainability agenda in today’s workplace and society in general.

Engaging Employers: the College that engages with employers in the public and private sectors and the voluntary and community sector and is the first choice provider for the areas in which it delivers curriculum.

Excellence: the College with the reputation for providing excellent courses, customer service and academic outcomes.

I have to choose a framework for my mapping exercise that will help me catch the key areas of policy and activity in a way that is relevant to the College, and is thorough without being overwhelming. Organisational ethics runs through everything we do. I will use the seven Es as one of a few checklists both in constructing the framework and then looking at the information we gather.

A first thought is that the ‘Environment’ value does not capture everything the College aspires to. For instance, a major construction project is underway which has various carbon-reduction features. Here’s an artists impression: