The Christian Association of Business Executives (CABE) was founded in 1938 by a group of Roman Catholic laymen who held senior positions in industry and commerce. Initially it was known as The Catholic Industrialists’ Conference and the first officers were Jack Gormley, Paul Kelly, George McClelland and Jack O’Hea. There were two principal motivations behind this initiative:
- CABE was always intended to be a fellowship of prayer and reflection for those engaged in business and this was realised in a variety of ways including discussion and prayer groups and regular quiet days or retreats.
- CABE’s second purpose was to address the widespread and common discomfort felt by many Christians engaged in the world of wealth creation at the negative attitudes expressed by the churches at the time. The aim of CABE was to help individual Christians to offer their daily work as part of their religious commitment – a part of their worship to God.
CABE commissioned Professor (later Lord) Brian Griffiths to set out a Biblically-based understanding of wealth creation. Griffiths’ two books, Morality and the Market Place and The Creation of Wealth, were immensely influential and remain major contributions to Christian understanding in this field.
The Institute of Business Ethics
Motivated by the desire to address one of the fundamental emerging issues for business – the application of Christian moral principles in the management and conduct of commerce and industry – CABE established the Institute of Business Ethics (IBE) in 1986. IBE focused initially on encouraging companies to draw up and implement codes of ethics for the corporation. This initiative was complemented by series of IBE examinations of important ethical issues arising in business, with practical guidance set out in succinct, high quality publications. IBE became established as the primary point of reference on business ethics and its work was sponsored and supported by companies like Esso and Lloyds Bank with donations and contributions. By 2000, it became clear that IBE had reached the point where it should be established as a separate independent charity and this was duly formalised. For several years, some CABE trustees also served as trustees of IBE, thus ensuring continuity of intent and understanding. Today, IBE is a robust and successful organisation in its own right.
Christian Principles for Business
After the separation from IBE, a series of trustee away days were held to formulate the way ahead and these resulted in identifying the next major CABE contribution to the interface between faith and work. CABE developed and, in 2006, launched our Principles for Those in Business. Designed as a statement of corporate responsibility and personal values drawn from a Christian perspective, the Principles are a structured discipline to assist individuals and to complement at the personal level the commitment to ethical standards promoted by IBE for companies. Take-up of the Principles was immediate and successful, endorsed as they have been by business and church leaders alike. A guide giving further help in making use of the Principles has reinforced the concept of a personal discipline which is also available online on website (link). The Principles also provided input into the Chartered Management Institute’s review of their Code of Practice for Managers as CABE worked alongside groups from other faiths.
Women on the Move
On 1 October 2007, CABE joined forces with ‘Women on the Move’ an independent organisation of high profile Christian women in leadership roles who meet together regularly to discuss relevant topical issues. Lady Gill Brentford OBE founded Women on the Move in 1993 to support, energise and resource gifted Christian women to enable them to maximise their talents and skills, initiate new projects and inspire others in advancing the kingdom of God.
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CABE’s principal purposes:
- promoting the study and application of Christian moral principles in the management and conduct of business
- study of the practical application of Christian social teaching to the modern economy
- promotion of high standards of business behaviour