“KP” Parker, St James’s & the Abbey 1988 Leaver
I began my career in the 1990s working as a PR in the entertainment industry, with clients like Eddie Izzard, James and New Order.
Although working with musicians and comedians could be seen as a glamorous job, I was looking to make a more meaningful impact on the world. It was while working for the comedian Rob Newman that I became interested in globalisation and how the way that business was conducted had a significant impact on people’s lives, as employees, consumers and communities.
When I first started at the Institute of Business Ethics, business ethics was mainly referred to as an oxymoron and wasn’t really taken seriously. It was seen as a ‘soft issue’ until the collapse of Enron happened. By the time of the financial crash in 2008, the business world had woken up to the fact that how they conducted their business was just as important as what they did. Ethics had an impact, not just on their reputation, but on their profits, and potentially, their very existence. The IBE promotes high standards of business practice based on ethical values. We do this by raising awareness of business ethics issues through our research and sharing good practice.
In my spare time, I write creative fiction, and as a writer, I believe that stories have the power to create cultures and communicate beyond rules and regulations. Part of my role includes writing scenarios to help sensitise people to ethical issues and consider the ethical dimensions of their work.
The world of business is complex; sometimes there are no single right answers, just a choice between two less wrong ones. Because there can be an ethical dimension to every business decision, it’s important for people to feel empowered to speak up if they see something that doesn’t feel right. My work at the IBE includes researching the ways in which companies support employees to do the right thing, and sharing these to help others improve their ethical culture through our Good Practice Guides. The two most recent of these are Encouraging a Speak Up Culture and Communicating Ethical Values Internally.
By talking openly about issues and offering practical advice, I’m proud to be part of an organisation which supports businesses and their employees to help create a better and more sustainable business world.
What does success look like?
For me, it was when I met someone who had a copy of my book about Encouraging a Speak Up Culture in his bag. It was dog-eared and well used. He told me he referred to it all the time in developing a procedure to help employees in his company raise concerns with confidence. Success is feeling you are having a real impact for the good on people’s lives.
What is your best piece of advice?
Your values are the compass by which you lead your life. If you’re in a situation and you’re not sure which direction to turn, your values will help guide you in the right way for you. Trust your gut; it’s your values talking.