This year's CBI Annual Conference focused on the next generation - and how business can help to secure future prosperity
“Now more than ever, we need to demonstrate that business is about so much more than just making money,” said CBI Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn from the stage of the CBI Annual Conference. And the role of businesses in creating a more prosperous society for the next generation was firmly in the spotlight during the event.
Here’s our pick of the quotes that highlight just why firms have a duty to act:
“Starting a business, growing a business, and keeping it thriving and successful are some of the most socially responsible things you can do in life”
The Prime Minister praised businesses for the job opportunities they provide, and the difference those jobs make to people’s lives.
“Business can and should be a force for good in our world,” she continued. “But at a time when many are questioning whether free markets and an open trading economy can work for everyone in society, business need to do more to win that argument.”
She said the best way firms can demonstrate they truly have a stake in the country’s success is by investing in the future of the next generation, by giving them a chance to develop their skills.
By increasing investment in R&D, she added, business can help the UK become “the ideas factory of the world”.
“The best thing business can do in times of uncertainty is think and act positively and make a difference where it can”
In a wide-ranging Q&A, Severn Trent Chief Executive Liv Garfield talked about trying to be a better business, improving diversity and inclusion and investing in training. You can read more on what she had to say on the challenges and opportunities facing the next generation – and how the water company is acting on social mobility in this behind the scenes interview.
“If we are not in tune with the needs of the country then we won’t be successful”
Steve Murrells, Chief Executive of the Co-operative Group, joined Jessi Baker, the founder of transparency company Provenance to talk about building consumer trust and meeting the expectations of the next generation.
They both spoke about the “revolution in understanding” – a greater awareness of societal challenges – and argued government and businesses have a major role in helping to find the solutions.
Murrells explained that the Co-op had a responsibility to respond to pressure on reducing sugar and plastics, and the growth in veganism. Having the right partners will help you to react to the trends, he added.
But having the right people within the business also matters. And that’s where being a better business creates a virtuous circle that drives even greater success for the long-term. Pointing to the fact young people want to give back to society, he said: “The more bright young people we can get into our business, that believe in our ethics and what we want to achieve, the more successful we’ll be.”
Jessi Baker also spoke about the drive towards greater transparency, and how the combination of technology and reputation is helping to build brands faster than ever with younger consumers. She warns larger firms to keep up in this interview with Business Voice.
“Our young people will be the business leaders of the future – and they are challenging us on how we think and how we operate,” said Carolyn Fairbairn, closing the conference.
All firms need to look to that future.
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