Speaking to an audience of current and future business leaders at the opening of Trinity College Dublin’s new business school, she will say that no-deal would represent a historic lost opportunity to raise living standards and spread prosperity across island of Ireland.
Carolyn will also use her remarks to outline the opportunity for business leaders to be champions for inclusion, diversity and fairness in the workplace.
On the all-island economy, CBI Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn said:
“Last year, Ibec and the CBI published a joint report looking at the all-Island Irish economy - North and South - an approach which has been so powerful for peace and prosperity.
“This report was about how much further we can still go. New synergies in transport, healthcare and education. All supporting a population of 10 million people by the middle of this century.
“But that won’t happen without some key ingredients. It needs government working together in partnership with business. The prize is undoubtedly great - higher growth, less deprivation, more people and communities included and sharing in this island’s prosperity.
“But – above all – it needs a Brexit agreement that enables an open border and frictionless trade. A no-deal Brexit outcome would be a wrecking ball. More than short-run disruption, more than a temporary bump in the road. A sudden exit from the EU would put this future vision of an all-island economy in peril. This should not be allowed to happen.
“One of the biggest costs of the Brexit gridlock is the lost opportunities. Let this not be one of them.”
On the opening of the Irish border, Carolyn said:
“Twenty years ago, when the Irish border was opened, this island’s economy began to change. Political division was bridged by a new economic unity. Businesses on this island began to link up across the 32 counties. Farming, manufacturing and services became integrated across the island.
“Yet there’s something deeper, more profound going on here. It’s the unique power of business to bring people together, give them opportunity and a stake in the success of society. And in the past two decades, Ireland has lived it.”
On our changing world, Carolyn said:
“We live in an era of opportunity like none before - the way the world is now connected, the promise of technology, the opportunities for young people. But in other ways these can feel like dark days, with uncertainty around every corner.
“There have of course been many changes to celebrate, but we find ourselves in uncharted waters. In a world of uncertainty, ideology can too often fill the void. We’ve seen it - and not just in the Brexit debate.
“Populism taking root in many parts of the world, old ideas from the 1970s re-emerging. A return to nationalism and protectionism. Future business leaders will grapple to find answers and I want to suggest one today. That’s how we – in partnership with government - build a far more inclusive economy, where prosperity is shared.
“If there is one thing that business must achieve, it is to use its almost unique power to create opportunity. To lift people up, tackle poverty and spread prosperity across gender and race, region and class.”
On inclusion in the workplace, Carolyn said:
“It is only through inclusion that we protect our ability to operate as businesses. Unless we strive for profit with purpose, use what we have to create fair opportunity, business will lose its voice and public support.
“Inclusive businesses are better businesses. It’s in the hands of companies to close the gender pay gap, stamp out sexual harassment wherever it exists and end discrimination on grounds of class, background, race, sexuality, religion, disability – or any other inessential characteristic.
“Yes, there’s been progress, but we need to build on it now. If we do, there’s a huge opportunity before us – for everyone already in business and for those future generations.”