Business gets serious as Polman endorses Blueprint

The Conference on Blueprint for Better Business on 29 October was a phenomenal event. It was over-subscribed and attendees were predominantly from business, for a start – with a spattering of charities, consultants (like myself) and the odd local authority and government department. Bumped into old friends from Boots, KPMG, nef, Tomorrow’s Company, CAF, Kingfisher, as well as made a few new ones. It took place at the Royal Academy of Engineers, where the main conference hall is adorned with large black and white photos of famous engineers – all of them contemporary women, which set a good starting tone!

For me there were two highlights – the opening speech from Sir Mike Rake (Chair of BT and CBI) and the dialogue featuring Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever. I had five minutes of 1:1 chat with Paul, who is regarded as a (if not the) most socially responsible leader of a major corporation in the world (there’s a section on Unilever in Welcome to GoodCo). John Kay, respected business academic, was also good; he agreed with my suggestion that the concept of ‘corporate citizenship’ combined ideas of duties and responsibilities as well as rights. Below are my tweets about these presentations, but the panel debates featuring businesses and investors were fascinating too and the networking opportunities awesome!

Best quote of the day, from John Kay: ‘Profit is the purpose of business about as much as breathing is the purpose of business…’ Think about it.

I was pleased to have had Blueprint represented at my book launch last June (Loughlin Hickey) and I’m proud to sit alongside its CEO Charles Wookey on the steering group of A Call to Action for the Common Good. I’m sure Blueprint will be publishing more detail of the conference, now an annual event, but in the mean time here are my tweets from the day…

Looking forward to hearing Paul Polman, Head of , tomorrow at the Blueprint for Better Business conference in London

Blueprint 4 better business is a mirror for business to reflect on its purpose and role in society, go beyond compliance

Sir Mike Rake CBI/BT on why purpose matters in business: easy to be cynical but true social purpose supports sustainable profit

Lack of trust in institutions including business leads to dangerous social problems like xenophobia says Sir Mike Rake CBI/BT at

Absolutely critical that economic recovery is shared by everyone esp lowest paid says Sir Mike Rake at need well paid consumers

Fundamental trust must be earned by business (big challenge) as elsewhere, otherwise populist politics will dominate Mike Rake at

Welcome the fact that most boardrooms now see tax payment as a reputational issue – but not enough! Sir Mike Rake CBI/BT at

Fibre rollout caused BT to reduce dividend 70% but huge employee enthusiasm, delivered early and under budget Mike Rake of BT

Sir Mike Rake of BT on our dysfunctional economy: ‘We’re all at fault except the people who suffer most’. Quite right!

UK law defines directors’ role: promoting the success of company. Not just £. Not defining success is helpful! John Kay reminds us

At a call from floor for tax incentives for good deeds: no!! Tax is paid to do good. Many businesses do good without tax incentive

Paul Polman at asks ‘which is better: we made a difference or we added half a point to market share?’ No contest!

Working in service of the common good is peak of human aspiration; don’t have to be CEO to do that says Paul Polman

The cost of not acting on global issues now costs business (and govts) more than cost of acting on them. Paul Polman

Great to talk 1:1 with the inspiring Paul Polman of at today and introduce him to my book