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Best in Show
Over the last week leading businesses and personalities across the globe have come together at the World Economic Forum, Davos – the winter playground for the powerful and influential – looking to discuss some of the greatest issues affecting global business and society.
There was certainly a chill in the air, but a topic that continued to thaw most hearts – and was central to business discussions – was sustainability and our delicate planet.
From the circular economy, sustainable consumerism to plastics reduction, sustainable development goals and a looming water crisis there were certainly many critical topics to discuss alongside the core themes of economic development, skills and inequality.
As ever the conference was split into themes with presentations, panel events, and key-note speakers for each aspect bringing their thinking to the forum of business elite.
This year the official key themes were: Healthy futures – How to save the planet, Beyond Geopolitics, Society & the future of work; Tech for good; Better business; and fairer economies, all reflecting some of the challenges we have witnessed in politics, business, broader society and our planet in more recent years.
A lot to get through between the champagne receptions and off-piste frolicking!
But, one of the resounding communications themes that has come out of the commentary in Davos is the need for collaboration between business, and broader public engagement (rather the focusing on shareholders and the financial needs of a business).
PR has always played a big part at the conference but more than ever the message coming through from leading figures and the comms leaders who attended is the need to work together. CEOs must share the load and work with other leaders. Going solo or taking a siloed approach to business and sustainability is not going to work.
An example of this is an environmental disclosure scheme with four of the big accounting groups and many other businesses signing up to this most comprehensive effort yet to account for businesses’ social and environmental impact. Launched at Davos this will enable business to report corporate metrics on environmental standards, for example, in line with the UNs sustainable development goals.
Businesses must look at their broad array of stakeholders and the blurry lines that exist between them, and think more humanly about what they are doing to support these broader issues. Profit will always be the driver for a business, but it is no longer enough to focus on this to the detriment of the environment, diversity and broader societal needs. Purpose is everything.
So another year has come and gone. Maybe this year will be a real year of action and we will see further collaboration in the world of business. Our planet certainly needs it.