Business and Politics

26 October 2020, 10:12 am
Speciality Bites by Paul Hargreaves

It has been said that business shouldn’t get involved in politics. Leave business to business people and politics to politicians

One large company, for whom I have massive respect, has a sign outside their HQ asking their people to leave politics in the car park. Some speakers and authors I know never comment on political issues for fear of losing their next booking or alienating some of their audience and reducing their number of sales for their next book.

Yet much of what we do as people and businesses is political.  Whilst also motivated by greed, the failure of large corporations to pay proper rates of tax is political.  Speaking out for more government help for businesses that have struggled during the pandemic is political. And this week, the action of many food businesses to step in and provide meals for hungry children, when the government has voted against what most people think is right, is political. How proud I was of our industry this weekend when so many businesses, many of which have had their own struggles throughout the pandemic, responded to Marcus Rashford’s call to help.

Whether those brilliant businesses think what they are doing is political or not, let me tell you, it is! Their action has shamed those MPs who voted against providing food vouchers during the school half-term holiday for needy children. In the 6th richest country of the world, there should not be any hungry children, but this is just yet another example showing that capitalism as we knew it is broken.  I came into the business world having worked in some of the poorest council estates in London for a decade. The issues I was dealing with in South-East London back in the nineties were largely a product of failed national and local government policy and whilst some of the charitable community action we were engaged in made some difference, it was difficult to see permanent change. For that people need the regular income and routine provided by employment and there simply weren’t enough jobs, or enough businesses wanting to make a difference not just to their profits but also the local community.

Much has changed in the last thirty years, more businesses now want to be seen as ‘good’ in their local communities, more businesses want to provide jobs for people who need a leg up in life and more businesses are putting people as equal in importance to their profits. This is true politics. Not the petty party political stuff we see on the news, but the politics of making a positive difference in the world.  Please join me in being more political this week.

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