With drastic changes in employment, technology and consumer behaviour, a growing number of CEOs (79%) are realising that sustainability and purpose practices lead to increased competitive advantage in their industry. And they are right, Harvard professors John Kotter and James Heskett found that purpose driven companies generated revenue four times faster compared to their counterparts over a ten year period.
Successful companies are adapting to respond in very smart ways, from addressing social and environmental problems to open and inclusive approaches, allowing the creation of transparency and trust with customers and employees.
Future skills and responsible practices
The day kicked off with a discussion of the skills gap and how this affects the future of business. According to a CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey, 2015, 45% of businesses believe there won't be enough people with the right skills to fill their future high-skilled jobs.
Senior directors from KPMG: Karl Edge and Guy Stallard shared their strategy for attracting, upskilling and retaining the right talent, explaining their social mobility agenda as manifested in initiatives such as KPMG 360° and Brooks Mews Cafe.
Speaking with the apprentices who have benefited from both programmes, it was clear that business can find the right talent and skills they need for the future in the most unlikely places. Thereby supporting their communities and building their business at the same time.
Delegates then heard from businesses that are responding to the changing market conditions by behaving socially and commercially in a fair and transparent way. Fujitsu shared insight on how their strategic use of the Business Connector programme is helping to develop their future leaders and at the same time, contributing to communities of greatest need in the UK.
“ Being a responsible business is about doing well by doing good. ”
The competitive advantage of responsible business
Professor David Grayson CBE of Cranfield University highlighted some research which clearly demonstrates that businesses who are more responsible are also more competitive. Delegates then heard first hand examples of the commercial benefits of Veolia’s Circular Economy business model and Styles&Wood’s Apprenticeship programmes
There was a general consensus that for business to prosper, they need to be more responsible. They also need to work with peers and organisations such as Business in the Community to deliver business strategies with responsibility at its core.
John Neill, Chairman and Group Chief Executive, Unipart
Andy Palmer, Chief Executive, Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd
Chen Wong, Associate Director, CSR Planning Division for EMEA, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd
Chris Sheppard, Group Chief Executive, European Metal Recycling
Ed Kamm, Partner, First Utility
Edward Hawthorne, Chairman and Chief Executive, Arnold Clark Automobiles
Fiona Booth, Head of Sector, Cabinet Office
Gary Shuttleworth, Managing Director, Dellner Woodville Ltd
Iain Blatherwick, Managing Partner, Browne Jacobson LLP
Lori Cunningham, Chief Digital Officer, Countrywide
Phil Hewitt, Metro Programme Director, Centro
Professor David Grayson CBE, Director Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University
Wayne Sheppard, Chief Executive, Ibstock plc