Another interesting year, although for quite different reasons than the last, at ‘The Financial Times Davos Debrief’’ at 12 Hay Hill, London W1.
Last year seemed the year of Trump, everyone nervous about his impact and influence on the economy, politics and peace agenda. China was also discussed heavily as the Huawei conversation became more geopolitically prevalent and tensions rose between China and Japan. I remember coming away from the debrief feeling a sense of dread about the impending war between the two tech leaders and surprised that the timelines for it seemed sooner than I’d originally believed. Brexit, of course, played a part with many of our European friends shaking their heads at the embarrassing process we’d led ourselves on, yet watching with interest to see what would happen and if leaving might also be an option for them once they’d learnt from our mistakes.
This year, Brexit was hardly mentioned, instead favouring the incredibly important piece around climate change or, as they referred to it, Climate Crisis. Greta Thunberg was star of the show, holding her own on a high powered, global platform and relating her passion with facts and compelling statistics. Some felt she didn’t have the education to be a credible voice, which led to an immediate response from University Deans offering to award her with an honorary PhD (watch this space!). David Attenborough did us proud and really is a national treasure; completely informed, engaging and presented the importance of change in a manner with which it was hard to argue.
What fascinated me most were the comments made by a high-net-wealth individual who said that while growth is still measured in GDP, there is no incentive to focus on climate, and therefore it’s no wonder “all (we) can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth”1. He suggested that, in fact, as the ice caps continue to melt, it could be considered a positive addition for trade purposes, as it enables access to previously difficult to reach areas.
We find ourselves teetering on the edge of a recession, with annual financial growth of only around 1.3% over the past couple of years, with Brexit hanging over our heads, the coronavirus affecting trade (as well as health and confidence) and everyone’s favourite, IR35, topping it off. On top of that the lack of trust we have in the political system, compounded social pressures and the suicide rates at a 16 year high2 it might it be nearing the time when change in measures of growth is necessary?
According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, “trust has changed profoundly in the past year – people have shifted their trust to relationships within their control, most notably their employers. Globally, 75% of people trust “my employer” to do what is right, significantly more than NGOs 57%, business 56% and media 47%”3. Will this therefore mean that the change needed to improve effects from climate change will indeed come from grass roots? From organisations wanting to support the will of their employees, rather than at government level.
From younger people witnessing their parents struggling with the balance of the busy world we find ourselves in and subsequently deciding to take things back to basics a little; eating more environmentally friendly food (therefore reducing the demand of over-processed junk food and hopefully improving health), working fewer hours and having healthier relationships as a result, trying to source more ethically produced goods and supporting local businesses.
Certainly my employer, Eton Bridge Partners, is acting in our best interest in many respects; driving a wellbeing programme, led by wellbeing ambassadors at all levels within the company, offering yoga for all staff on Monday afternoons, a wellbeing landing page on our intranet, providing fresh fruit, alternative milks and herbal teas in both offices, meditation sessions once a week, enabling a truly flexible working environment so people can manage their lives, as well as consciously reviewing and acting on ideas to improve our carbon footprint. We’ve also been reassured with measured advice on COVID-19, and offered appropriate support and flexibility.
We, at Eton Bridge Partners, believe that financial growth happens when you do the right thing, holding quality, kindness and best practice as standard practice. We listen to others, respect and act on things that matter to people. We really try to emulate trust, spirit and excellence with every engagement we make and so trusting (and proving) that those behaviours will be rewarded by repeat business, and positive feedback from the market. This in turn leads to new business.
It will be interesting to see how the above manifests over the next couple of years. I think Greta was absolutely right when she said, “The moment we decide to fulfil something, we can do anything”4. Whatever that means for you and your business, “Change is coming, whether you like it or not”5.
I’m hopeful that this will bring everybody to consider acting more kindly and with more awareness, and in turn, perhaps the financial growth will improve as a result of our focus on living more ecologically, economically aware.
1 Greta Thunberg – The U.N. Climate Action Summit, 23 September 2019.
2 Article: Suicides rise to 16 year high across UK
4 Greta Thunberg – Houses of Parliament, UK, 23 April 2019
5 Greta Thunberg – Instagram, 21 September 2019
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