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Opinion: Why businesses should act now for our Future

Now, more than ever, there is a need for businesses to play a broader role in supporting and driving the delivery of shared societal goals. The political scene is changing not just on a weekly basis, but sometimes on a minute-by-minute basis. Instability is not good for anyone.

The global pandemic has changed how and where we all work and has brought issues like digital inclusion, mental health and resilience to the fore.

Climate change is still the biggest threat that society faces in the future, even with the challenges we face right now, and it is critical that we act for the sake of future generations.

Cost of living

We sit now with a cost of living crisis, not just on the doorstep, but right inside our homes and businesses, and interest rate increases will hit those on the lowest incomes the hardest.

Every sector is being affected by rising costs. Some sectors, such as retail, agri-food and hospitality face significant challenges with the energy crisis and rising employment costs, which is why embracing innovation is key - NOW!

Other sectors such as technology are thriving and weathering some of the financial storms that are causing others to collapse. The charity sector needs business like never before. Many third-sector organisations are supporting those who are the most vulnerable or disadvantaged in society. Even households that were just about managing are now finding that they have to make use of food banks or other support services.

The first responsibility of any business is to its stakeholders in satisfying sustainable growth. Yes, they will be shareholders but their people, their suppliers and their charity partners all make up the stakeholders that a company depends on for its success. This does not just happen without a lot of hard work, planning, and increasingly, flexibility.

Recognising success

Those businesses that make work for people and the planet should really be commended. Every certificate on a wall or award on the shelf tells a story of a business that has demonstrated its credentials in taking action on a particular issue or need, or a variety of them, and is willing to share this with others. We need to be inspired; we need to feel that individuals, businesses and society as a whole wants the world to be a better place.

Businesses that are striving to be fairer to their people, kinder to the planet and who actively seek to work with others should absolutely be recognised.

The people who work for businesses come from communities. The two are inextricably linked. A business that is prospering can employ more people well, can build up the reputation of a town, city or region, and can invest in the local community.

That can happen in a variety of ways. For example, more and more businesses are providing skills-based support to communities. Businesses that build strategic partnerships with local communities really see a huge difference. Take PwC for example, in one of its UK regions it built a strategic partnership with a suicide prevention charity and can directly attribute the work it has done to saving more than 10 lives.

Still work to be done

While recent years have seen women’s employment in the UK reach record highs, women’s ability to prosper is undermined by persistent levels of unequal pay and power or discrimination and harassment at work.

Some groups face bigger hurdles – black women, for example, experience a larger pay gap than white women – and while the impact of Covid-19 is still being understood, emerging data suggests women have borne the brunt of many of the economic measures.

Failing to fully embrace the talent women have to offer is not only detrimental to individuals but also impacts businesses’ ability to thrive. Research has shown that organisations with more diverse leadership are more profitable. The world bank has estimated that the global economy could grow by an estimated $160 trillion were we to pay men and women equally.

Although we continue to face some of the hardest challenges we’ve ever seen. I believe that with business, government and society working together in partnership, we can ensure we do not just recover from these challenges but that we do so in a way that leads to better economic, social and environmental outcomes for people, families and communities right across the UK.

About the Author: Amanda Mackenzie is the CEO of Business in the Community


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