CBI president champions business in a changing world

Opening the CBI’s 2016 Annual Conference, president Paul Drechsler set out his vision of business as a powerful force for good. Relocate’s managing editor, Fiona Murchie, was in the audience.

CBI president discusses business in a changing world
In his keynote address and Q&A session at the CBI Annual Conference 2016, the business organisation’s president, Paul Drechsler, championed the role of business in a changing world."Many people still see business as something they are not part of, run by a privileged few who don’t look or sound like them, and who seem to play by a different set of rules," he said."We need to acknowledge that there have been unacceptable transgressions, which have made people question the value of what we do and our right to do it. These cases are exceptions, but they’re shaping people’s view of all of us."On a range of issues, we need to show not just that we’re listening to people’s concerns, but that we’re acting on them."

Global relevance

Some of the key points Paul Drechsler made about business and its championing of education and opportunity should be of particular relevance to Relocate’s global readership. 

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"We need to show people that business is on your side," said Mr Drechsler. "Firms of all sizes are providing opportunities for people across the UK. Big firms alone employ more than ten million people – the same as the entire population of Portugal.""We’re on people’s side on education. I’m chairman of Teach First, the social mobility charity, which was born out of business. Over the last 15 years, it has placed 10,000 teachers in schools that need them the most. These teachers have inspired, educated and opened opportunities for over one million children from low-income communities. "Without business, that would not have happened, because without the support of business alongside our government partners, Teach First would not exist. And, as business, we should all be proud that, last year, firms invested over £45 billion in skills and training."

Brexit: business needs clarity 

Of the need to mitigate economic uncertainty as plans for the UK’s exit from the European Union are formulated, Paul Drechsler said, "When it comes to negotiations, no one understands the need for discretion better than business. We’re not asking for a running commentary, but we are looking for clarity and – above all – a plan." Mr Drechsler went on, "For many firms, it’s not about a ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ Brexit, but a ‘smooth’ Brexit, which avoids these cliff-edge problems."The government should build on the positive moves it has already made to dispel uncertainty by drawing up plans for a smooth transition, giving firms both the time to adapt to new regulation and the confidence to invest beyond 2019."In her conference address, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, reassured CBI members that the government would "strike a deal that’s right for Britain and right for the rest of Europe, too".

For related news and features, visit our Enterprise and Brexit sections.

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