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Hello Innovation Forum, goodbye Ethical Corporation

Forums, all about innovation. Come along to one of them.

Recently, after 13 years, I left Ethical Corporation to start a new company, Innovation Forum.

There’s a number of reasons behind this, as some of you who know me, will be aware.

It was a difficult change to make, given I had founded the business and directed its “strategy” (such as it was) since 2001.

I remain on good terms with the shareholders and team there, and wish them the best. Let’s just say we disagreed about the future direction of the business. Two of my former EC colleagues, Ian Welsh (editor for a decade) and Oliver Bamford (now COO of our new entity) have joined me at Innovation Forum.

Back in the day, I published (I use the term loosely) the first edition of the now-shut-down print edition on 3rd December 2001, the day Enron declared bankruptcy. We’ve seen a lot of changes since then, but more about that another time.

There’s one important reason though, that I am excited about the new business, which is why I am writing this post.

It’s the word “innovation”, and how we plan to interpret it in our new set of events and publishing model.

Yes, Innovation Forum is an events and publishing business. One does what one knows. But, also, as I have discovered, having dabbled in advisory work and more in training, one does best what one enjoys most.

My skill appears to be in bringing together the ‘right’ people, and trying to provide them with useful information.

That’s about it, but it’s what I enjoy, and where I feel I can make a difference, alongside continuing to do a little in advisory work and developing the online sustainability training business I run with Mallen Baker.

Innovation Forum is going to be different from Ethical Corporation though. Not more of the same, but more of different, if that can make any sense. I hope you’ll agree when you see the products. That’s probably the best way to put it. I hesitate to define the differences myself, for perhaps obvious reasons. You can judge by what you see. They key word will be “focus”, I think.

Of course the term “innovation”, is hugely misused, alongside “strategy”, “engagement” and myriad others.

But innovation is really what’s going to get us out of the troubles of an unsustainable world.

R&D and design innovation, product and service innovation, systems innovation, management and inventor innovation, the list goes on.

Ethics will always be important, but as a term, is actually too defensive if you think about how the meaning is translated into action. This is my conclusion, perhaps 15 years later than ideal, but that’s how it works. Perhaps I am a slow learner.

Innovation, by its nature, is forward looking (another cliche I know!), and feels to me, progressive and outward looking, about opportunity as much as problem solving.

So Innovation Forum is taking a highly focused, thematic approach to sustainability and human rights events and publishing, with a lot more to come in 2015.

We’re focused on new solutions, learning and ways of sharing that knowledge, ways which are better than before.

That, for now, is our link to innovation. But there’s more to come, a lot more.

Beyond these two current areas of deforestation and human rights, we’re also focusing further on innovation in sustainability in 2015. More details to come on that soon. We’ll be doing a lot.

Alongside our upcoming events in London later this year (more details below) we’re working with governments in the Middle East, Africa and South East Asia on regional responsible business forums which will focus on sustainable innovation as well as risk mitigation.

More details on these will be forthcoming, as will our publishing work, and programme of events in the US, planned for 2015.

Meantime, here’s what we’re up to right now, below.

I hope you can join us at one of these.

If you’d like to get in touch about any of this, I am on

Upcoming Innovation Forum events in 2014:

How business can tackle deforestation
Collaborate effectively with suppliers and NGOs, understand policy and enforcement trends
28th-29th October, 2014, London. More details here.

How to effectively engage stakeholders in frontier markets (emerging markets)
An exclusive two-day executive training workshop, certified by the CSR Training Institute
30-31 October, 2014, London. More details here.

Business and human rights
How to get beyond policy, manage risk and build relationships
10 November, 2014, London. More details here.


  1. Good luck Toby. It sounds like a fascinating new journey.

  2. Many Good Wishes Toby, for success in your new venture. You seem to have ventured into a challenging but much needed path to offer new alternatives in the current resource guzzling military industrial complex

  3. Best wishes!!! I hope to be in touch with you and your "Innovation Forum"

  4. Best wishes Toby in your new venture; there will always be room for innovation and to learn.

  5. Hi Toby: It's been awhile since we've been in touch (while I was at Intertek Sustainability Solutions/ ISS). Innovation may be an oft-used term, but so many companies and sustainability consultancies out there continue to struggle with it every day – what it means, how to make it part of a corporate mission – part of the everyday culture of business. So Bravo to you for making this shift. I look forward to following your progress! – Best, Christopher Foss

  6. Good luck, Toby – I'm sure you will do more great things – keep right on!