Business and Politics don’t mix – but should they?
Never mix business with politics. Is that not how the adage goes? Well, I beg to differ.
As politics and the political debate worldwide has become increasingly polarised, a vacuum has emerged in the pragmatic, sensible middle ground of moderate public opinion. Whether it be on topics such as BREXIT in the UK or the rise of white supremacy in the US, business can and should play an important and influential role.
Most business leader have traditionally steered clear of contentious politic issues, no doubt for fear of upsetting some of their employees or their customers. Heaven forbid that taking a moral stance on certain issues would impact profit – but wouldn’t it be worth foregoing some in order to be on the right side of history?
I admit to being impressed by a tweet by Julie Sweet, who has just completed her first 12 months as CEO of my old ‘alma mater’ Accenture, relating to the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It reads:
I applaud Julie but also recognise that there is a degree enlightened self-interest in her position given Accenture has committed to gender parity by 2025. I’d imagine that the prevailing view amongst the women the company seeks to attract, retain and engage are likely to be on different ends of the political spectrum from the socially conservative Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s nominee for the US Supreme Court. Wouldn’t it be great if business could take a principled stand on many important issues of the day, whether it benefitted the bottom line or not? Ben and Jerry’s are leading the way with their “Issues We Care About” and have come in for more than a little flak as a result. But should the company’s stance on a particular issue be left to the whim of a CEO, or might it offer political opinions that are more representative of a broader set of stakeholders?
As our democratic institutions have veered towards the political extremes, maybe we need to bring democracy into business. I’ve written in the past about how we might “democratise” global corporations, as these behemoths have scaled to become “G20 Super-states”, controlled by the few, impacting the many. Shouldn’t we have far more decentralized power and decision making within them to balance the legitimate needs of shareholders with the equally legitimate needs and interests of society’s broader set of stakeholders?
If business is to play a more active role in politics, we might also want to consider bringing politics, or better still, democracy into business. I’ve written in the past about how we might “democratise” global corporations, as these behemoths have scaled to become “G20 Super-states”, controlled by the few, impacting the many. Shouldn’t we have far more decentralized power and decision making within them to balance the legitimate needs of shareholders with the equally legitimate needs and interests of society’s broader set of stakeholders?
I had a very inspiring conversation with a young woman recently, who had enjoyed a shining political career in the UK and Europe but was becoming increasingly disenchanted with the political system. I floated the idea that what we maybe need is a new form of white-collar Trade Union to allow employees to exert collective influence on the elites who run business in their own interests. In the past, the traditional role of trade unions was about ensuring fair wages and safe working conditions for employees. Maybe the trade union of the next decade is more around collective bargaining on things like climate change, sustainability, purpose, business ethics or indeed what the company’s position should be on divisive political issues of our time. Afterall, if Google employees can go on strike without a union – just think what they could do if they had one.
The Future is Hybrid
The Covid pandemic continues to impact all our lives and in Europe at least, the second wave seems to be hitting hard. I’d been really hoping to get back to the idyllic Isle of Bute for our next Decelerator Lab in October, but sadly this is looking pretty difficult. What we’re trying to do instead is to create something of a hybrid event. What’s that?
Well, the vast majority of participants would be online as we’ve done successfully with Craigberoch LIVE in the past, but we hope there could be some areas where people could gather locally to join sessions, go for walks, or have evening discussions together – all done while respecting social distancing and following all national guidelines of course.
One of these local hubs could be on Bute and we’re considering hosting one near Geneva and London. We’re running a “teaser event” this evening, Thursday 1st October at 7pm-8:30pm UK and you can click here to register for FREE.
For those of you interested in signing up for the main event, then I’m offering 10 passes at 50% discount. Use code CBLIVE_BULLOG50. First come, first served!
Best of the rest……
While I’m on the subject of the Craigberoch Business Decelerator, I hosted a Strategic Retreat for many of our “Cast” in the French Alps just outside of Geneva. We had beautiful weather and made the most of the opportunity to get together and to plan for the year ahead – we have an ambitious schedule ahead and I’ll be sharing more in the coming months so stay tuned.
I was honoured to be a guest on my friend David Pearl’s new show called The Green Room. This is a typically creative and audacious idea from David to create the kind of unscripted, informal and unpredictable atmosphere of the backstage, when performers are mingling with each other off stage. He had well known comedian Emma Lawton together with other live guests and two virtual guests beaming in – yours truly plus an amazing woman called Espiride from Damanhur spiritual community in Italy who did a virtual Tarot reading. You can watch the replay here and would highly recommend you signing up for future events. We need more uplifting ideas like this in these difficult times.
In mid September I spent three days at a retreat held in a beautiful French Chateau south of Paris that was hosted by a group called Alter Ego. We were blessed with sunny and warm Indian summer weather and an amazing setting which meant that many of the activities were able to take place out of doors in the lovely grounds. There was lots on “inner work” for social changemakers and I found it thoroughly enjoyable, not least because it gave some inspiring new ideas for Craigberoch.
Lastly, I was asked to do a presentation for SAP as part of our “B2B” offer, which seeks to bring the spirit of Craigberoch into Corporate teams. I was joined by Viki and Kaori from the Cast who were amazing. It seemed to go down very well given SAP have immediately invited us back to do another session later this month. If you want something similar in your company then come and speak to us.
On the personal front…….
I’ve lived in Geneva for over 10 years but if I’m honest, I’ve explored very little of the Swiss countryside. With all the travel restrictions it was a perfect time to stay local and I decided to switch off my phone and together with my friend Jakub and Penny the Dog, walk from Bern to beautiful Lake Lucerne. It’s the Swiss version of the Camino in Spain and was absolutely stunning even although the weather wasn’t great. I believe that one of the best antidotes to lockdown is getting out of doors much more, even if you’re doing your online meetings and calls from the middle of nowwhere . As the cliché says, there is no such thing as bad weather – only bad clothing!
I’ve been invited to many birthday parties of my friends’ kids and so when Penny turned 2 years old on 14th September, Ari and I decided to do something similar for our little daughter. There were chewy toys, balloons, booze (for the adults) and she got the most enormous bone you’ve ever seen. Fabulous!
That’s more than enough for now folks. If you enjoy this monthly ramble then do feel free to suggest others sign up here. Until next month,
* The Bullog = Bulloch + BlogMake sense? Not bulldog, nor is it bulls**t although I’ll let you be the judge of that! It’s a brief synopsis on recent articles, events and opinions from my world and the things that have caught my attention over the past few weeks.