Oxford

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By Dearbhla Gavin

The Bloomberg Good Business Conference took place last Tuesday at Bloomberg HQ in London. As ‘good business’ is a relatively new phenomenon, many attendees were understandably cautious yet intrigued as to what to expect.

For me, having been with Horyou for a year now and having a working knowledge of concepts like ‘sustainability’ and ‘social impact’, it was music to my ears.

In his opening remarks, Head of Bloomberg Media Adam Freeman alluded to socially conscious business and values driven behavior, all concepts so familiar to me. I thought it could be our Horyou CEO Yonathan Parienti up on the podium and immediately felt that not only would I learn a lot but possibly be able to contribute to discussions throughout the day.

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There was a diverse mix of panelists representing the full spectrum of industry, from social entrepreneurs to sustainability and from big corporations officers to professors; there were truly interactive and multidisciplinary discussions.

Rupert Younger, Director of the Oxford University Centre for Corporate Reputation highlighted the importance of this interactive diversity, stating that it’s the ‘connectivity of stakeholder groups’ that can facilitate progress.

Other topics included the role of Government and policy in facilitating good business, the evolution of Formula E, harnessing new technology in motorsport and, my favorite of the day, how to attract and retain millennial talent.

As I technically come under the umbrella of ‘millennial’ (born between the late 1980’s and 1990’s), I could relate to everything that the panel expressed but what’s more, the subjects discussed got me excited like someone starting out in a career.

The heads of recruitment from Barclays, SAP and Ernst and Young gave their account on how they had to rapidly reform not only their recruitment policy but also the package that they offer to prospective employees in order to better compete with start-ups over attracting talent.

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Steering away from straight A’s in favor of evidence of community participation, the panelist insistence went to factors like flexitime and opportunity to test out the water in other departments: all things that companies have to consider in the race for talent. I can vouch for myself and everyone I know in saying that millennials will not work the same way as the previous generations.

We don’t want a job where we’re living for the weekend, we want a purposeful career, whether it is us benefiting individually or society as a whole.

We think and talk about our jobs outside of the office and we’re willing to put in the extra hours if it means a task get done but in return we want to feel valued, be granted mobility to work out of office if so we want and anything else that will encourage us giving our 100%.

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Overall,I thought this whole event was something more than just another conference on a rainy day in London. Distinguished businessmen, academics and journalists who gather at one of the world’s leading business news organizations is nothing new but what made this event different is its agenda. Talk of “maximizing profit” was replaced by “ESG” (environmental social governance) and “Dividends to shareholders” was replaced by “returns to society”.

This may all sound very Utopian; will CEO’s and shareholders really reform their bottom line and forgo monetary profits for doing good in society? The answer is surely yet to be found.

However, one of the main takeaways of the day was that it is not a zero sum game and there doesn’t need to be a choice. Doing good is actually good for business. The next generation of consumer and investor is demanding more from a company. They will give their support only to those who can show they are making a positive impact on society, whether they are choosing a more environment friendly way of doing business or simply are being more transparent with their workforce. Garnering clear support from stakeholders across all industry, the Bloomberg Good Business Conference was truly a sign of the times. It will take a concerted effort to make change but the will is there. I look forward to seeing how far we’ve come at the next BGBC.

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