Good business in limelight at UK’s first unrestricted conference since pandemic start
Purpose was centre stage at the first UK business event without Covid-19 restrictions since the start of the pandemic.
Around 350 people attended the Good Business Festival gathering in Liverpool yesterday, which showcased champions of purpose-led business such as former Body Shop CEO Jeremy Schwartz.
It was one of the first in a series of pilot events organised by the UK government where participants do not need to observe any Covid-19 restrictions (such as wearing a mask or observing social distancing) – but must present a negative coronavirus test result to access the venue. Health authorities are trying out the method in the hope it will allow public events to reopen safely.
It’s really fitting that the pilot event… is focused on business itself and how we can build back better from the pandemic - tourism minister Nigel Huddleston
Steve Rotherham, mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said the “good business” focus of the event was well suited to the region, “where conscience, fairness, solidarity [and] fraternity are essential to our identity and the way we do business”. He praised the “thriving social economy” of a region where the social sector supports 50,000 jobs locally and generates £2.9bn in income per year. “We have the opportunity to build a more inclusive economy,” he said.
The UK minister for tourism, sport and commonwealth games Nigel Huddleston said the event was “a really important landmark” in the recovery from the pandemic. “It’s really fitting that the pilot event… is focused on business itself and how we can build back better from the pandemic.”
UK minister for tourism, sport and commonwealth games Nigel Huddleston speaking at the event
Wayne Hemingway, creative director of the Good Business Festival and founder of ethical design firm HemingwayDesign, said that the purpose of the Good Business Festival – originally scheduled over five days in October – was to “radically rethink” how business events took place.
Many business conferences remained centered around shareholder value, while festivals focused on purposeful business were “very hair-shirted, and preaching to the converted,” he said. The Liverpool event aimed to be “a celebratory festival that was open to everybody, whether you're a captain of industry, a business owner, an employer or an employee, whether you're an activist right through to a young person who's on the journey to having their own business”. The festival would steer clear of “suits and lanyards”, instead creating “a South by SouthWest meets Ted meets Davos – but without the private jets.”
The Good Business Festival aims to create a South by SouthWest meets Ted meets Davos – but without the private jets
Hemingway said he hoped the media attention drawn to the unique event would be an opportunity to start the conversation about good business and bring it to the mainstream. “It opens doors and helps to build a brand,” he said.
Creative director of the Good Business Festival Wayne Hemingway (second from right) speaking at the event
Jeremy Schwartz, now chairman, sustainability and inclusion transformation at Kantar, speaking at yesterday’s event, said sustainability was going to “accelerate as a major business issue”.
Changing for the better would require business leaders “to set extraordinary goals, and to do that, we need to overcome fear, and our own self-limiting mindset,” he said.
The main Good Business Festival, which is a not-for-profit event commissioned and funded by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, will take place on 7-9 July.
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