In case you were too busy doing something useful, keeping promises or struggling to pay your rent, it was the Lib Dem conference this week. Nick Clegg and chums got above the pulpit to remind us that the Tories aren’t actually that nice, and Labour are rubbish at budgeting, so if you want a stronger economy and a fairer society you should vote for them. Sadly, despite the rhetoric there was actually little talk of social enterprise or the social economy as we know it.
Speaking of conferences that ignore social enterprise, it was also the Institute of Directors annual conference this week, where the great and the good of the business world got together and had a little party. Terry Smith stopped the vinyl and jumped up on the table to exclaim ‘socially responsible investments are poor performers and contradictory, so if you’re a Pension Fund Manager, don’t invest in them (and what the hell are you doing at a party any ways?!)’. Thankfully Richard Branson stood up to defend the cause, talking extensively about his plans with The B Team, for more responsible business, for building a hotel in space! Stellar! Now The B Team’s tagline makes slightly more sense – people looking down at a planet for a profit!
The Social Economy Alliance went intergalactic too this week, with a promotional video asking people ‘can you feel the force?’ Not to be confused with this video.
There were also strange visitors from another land about, as several French Foundations visited the UK to find out what real food tastes like, wash the taste of red wine out their mouths with some warm, flat beer and find some facts out about social investment.
Back on Earth, The Social Investment Business are planning to invest up to £2m in place based investments, setting up a network of funds that are run by local voluntary sector organisations.
And Esmee Fairbairn announced their new CEO, former COO of BSC Caroline Mason.
There was also a lot of talk about youth unemployment this week, with the International Youth Job Creation Summit taking place in London and the Labour Party producing a report on Enterprise and Youth Unemployment, with some suggested policy recommendations for local and central government, schools and enterprises.
The New Economics Foundation published a pamphlet arguing for a shorter working week. They argue that working fewer, more flexible hours could help us overcome issues such as overwork, unemployment and low well-being. They also go on to talk about how this could also tackle entrenched inequalities and issues, but I think we can all agree with the general premise.
Finally, over the pond another new publication was released this month in the Harvard Business Review- ‘innovation for sharing’ – which provides a great insight in to how to balance being social and enterprise. Their top five top tips include:
- embedding a social purpose
- defining the need
- measuring shared value
- creating the optimal innovation structure
- co-creating with external stakeholders.
So there you go – no more excuses!