BITC leaders talk at Conservative Party Conference

Today a panel of BITC business leaders were questioned by Michael Fallon MP at the Conservative Party Conference.

Business in the Community put the case for business involvement in creating stronger communities to Government ministers and MPs at a well-received panel discussion at the Conservative Party Conference this morning.

During the Responsible Business Panel, Michael Fallon, the Business and Enterprise Minister questioned Mark Price, Chairman of BITC and Managing Director of Waitrose, Paul Dreschler, Chair of the BITC Education Leadership Team and Chairman and Chief Executive, Wates Group, and Steve Holliday, Chief Executive, National Grid.

The business leaders were asked about issues including the role of business in education, the relationship between businesses and their communities, how companies can help reduce unemployment and how big businesses should support small and medium enterprises.

The panel emphasised the strong business case for community involvement. "There is a causal link between investing in your community and commercial success," said Mark Price. "If a company is engaged in their community, we know that customers like that and they respond to it."

On the subject of employment and, Steve Holliday spoke about BITC's Work Inspiration programme and how it "demystifies the workplace" for the young people taking part. "We've encouraged all our workers [at National Grid] to make sure they give an inspirational experience of the workplace."

The leaders also praised Business Class, BITC's programme matching businesses with schools. "Business Class is the most exciting growth story in the country" said Paul Dreschler. "[It's] in schools stopping people from falling into the trap [of low ambition]," added Steve.

Michael Fallon ended by asking what businesses needed from government, but Mark Price preferred to talk about what business could do for society. Businesses must "Make sure they help the communities in which we work," he said.

Video of the full panel will be available later this week.