5 July 2018

  |  CBI Press Team

Update

UK firms must break class ceiling & make this the decade of social mobility

Speaking at the CBI East Midlands Annual Dinner, Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn will praise the contribution of East Midlands firms to local communities and the UK economy. 

UK firms must break class ceiling & make this the decade of social mobility

Carolyn will highlight what business can and must achieve within the next ten days, ten months and ten years to secure a prosperous future for our country.  

Speaking to an audience of local business leaders at the National Space Centre in Leicester, Carolyn will say that “no one else can set out the facts on Brexit like British companies can.”

Looking to the long-term, the CBI Director-General will also call on firms “to embrace the technology revolution so that it works for Britain and use it to break down barriers of class, gender, ethnicity and sexuality. The best and surest route out of poverty has been and always will be a good job – and there’s no better way than successful, responsible, inclusive business.”

She will encourage firms to “make this the decade where companies rebuild confidence in free markets and give everyone the freedom and opportunity to succeed.” 

Ahead of the dinner, Carolyn will also visit Loomis UK in Nottingham, Derby College and Leicester City Football Club.

On Brexit, Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, will say:

“We are at the critical moment in the Brexit negotiations. For business, it is the moment of most danger. Decisions taken today, tomorrow, this week and next will affect our country for generations to come.

“We respect the result of the referendum.  But what we have done as a business community is speak up for jobs, prosperity and living standards. For the kind of Brexit deal we believe our country needs.

“Over the coming days and weeks, we should all continue to bring evidence to the debate. It is making a difference.”

On the longer term, Carolyn will say:

“Britain’s role and standing as a country is also at a crossroads. Two hundred years ago Britain led an industrial revolution that made it the workshop of the world.  The East Midlands was – as it usually is – at the heart of things.  Its willingness to innovate, to try new technology, to invest in progress set it apart then and still does so today.

“Yet today a new technology revolution is breaking. The task for business is to make the most of it. To be the disruptors, rather than the disrupted. Particularly as the East Midlands is both our national capital of manufacturing and the heartland of British logistics.

“Whether it’s Center Parcs building a new £15 million subtropical swimming paradise. Or Rolls Royce’s working with the Alan Turing Institute to use artificial intelligence to predict when parts of an engine will need repair.

“Or Nestlé and XPO Logistics building a distribution centre next to East Midlands Airport which will use robots and autonomous vehicles to move products in the warehouse. It’s great that companies across the East Midlands are already leading the way.”

Looking ahead ten years, Carolyn will say:

“The next ten years are about our fundamental purpose as a business community.  Only two weeks ago the OECD said that the average time it takes for a low-income family to become a middle-income family in the UK is five generations. We don’t just have a glass ceiling, but a class ceiling too.

“Because that’s five generations across which families must work and strive through school, college, training and employment. This is far too slow and business is losing out on talented people.

“Yet there’s an even broader point if free markets are to function at all.  If society is to give capitalism its consent, people need to know they have a chance to improve their lives and the lives of their children, and that it won’t take five generations to get there.

“Who is better-placed than business to make the change we need to see? If we set ourselves one task for the next ten years, let’s make it the decade of social mobility. A decade in which business rebuilds confidence in free markets by showing that business is what gives people the freedom to succeed.  And do in one generation what in the past has taken five.”