“Some people say that tackling societal issues is a ‘nice thing to do’. We say that for business it’s mission critical.”
This message from Inclusive Economy Partnership (IEP) co-chair Sacha Romanovitch at IMPACT19 – held yesterday at County Hall – was clear: it’s time for business to collaborate across sectors to play its part in ending societal exclusion.
IMPACT19 was the inaugural event from the IEP – launched in 2017 – to bring together cross-sector stakeholders from across business, civil society and government, working together to solve society’s toughest challenges.
After a rallying call from IEP co-chairs Sacha Romanovitch, Mark Norbury and Oliver Dowden MP, Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright called for businesses to recognise the social contract they have with communities.
The Minister’s keynote preceded an engaging panel featuring actor and activist Michael Sheen, co-founder of ImpactHub Birmingham Imandeep Kaur, Business in the Community vice-president Dame Julia Cleverdon, University of Buckingham vice-chancellor Sir Anthony Seldon, Sage Foundation VP Debbie Wall, and City Mental Health Alliance vice-chair Beth Robotham.
Imandeep called on the world to face up to oncoming challenges: “Over the next decade we are going to see unprecedented shifts in the challenges we face together as society, so the most important thing is unlocking humanity to step into that.” Dame Julia meanwhile praised the progress in the conversation around mental health in the last fifty years.
Michael Sheen emphasised that change could only come about with true cross-sector collaboration, with those at the top listening to the most vulnerable in civil society: “The engine room of change comes from the people excluded from the economy. It’s the same in any business where boardrooms who exclude their employees miss out on being an efficient business.
“Life’s hard,” he added, “let’s help each other.”
Three breakout sessions later asked guests to address each of the IEP’s focused challenges – financial inclusion and capability, mental health, and transition to work. Suggested solutions included auto-enrolment for savings, mental health risks assessments, and reframing the school curriculum to allow for more work experience opportunities.
IMPACT19 concluded with two more fascinating sessions; Business Secretary Greg Clark delivered a closing keynote, after Edie Lush sat down in conversation with Imagine co-founders Paul Polman and Valerie Keller.
Mr Polman, one of Europe’s foremost purpose-driven leaders, asked the audience a question that drove home the message of the day: “Are we here in this world for a few billionaires, or for a few billion people?”
To find out more about the Inclusive Economy Partnership click here.