As Theresa May relaxes after making her speech about how independent the UK will become under her Premiership, she and Philip Hammond will be enjoying fine wines and food as one of the many participants in the annual World Economic Forum in Davos. It will be interesting to know if either of them will attend the session entitled “Fixing Europes Disunion” and one of the themes is to be Euro-sceptic populism beyond Brexit. Hopefully being in such a grand place will remind Hammond and May that we cannot achieve very much on our own, and we need to build alliances, not simply stamp our feet. Indeed when she stands up to make her speech tomorrow morning, she will see many faces who she is currently speaking about as though they are part of the problem, not part of our future. Awkard! Not long afterwards there is a session entitled Britain and the EU: The Way Forward which would be interesting for those of us concerned about the direction of travel being taken by our Government. However this is not just an event for Politicians.
Amongst the many big business CEOs and Governmental leaders from around the world, one of the empty chairs will be that of Stephen Kelly, CEO of Sage who once again has publicly explained his decision to stay away. In the past he has been critical of the age and gender of most of those attending. This year as Davos takes place he has published a survey of small businesses with the words “Only too often when the world’s policy makers discuss the global economic picture, small businesses are excluded from the discussion. This is most evident with the annual World Economic Forum in Davos where small businesses aren’t an item on the agenda. Worse still, 60% don’t even know the event is taking place. It’s crazy when you consider that small businesses create two thirds of all the jobs in most economies, and represent over 98% of all businesses.” Instead Sage intend to give business builders a platform to connect with policy makers, through its ‘Forum for Business Builders’. The Forum brings entrepreneurs from around the world insights, events and policy-forming partnerships to give them a powerful collective voice that can be heard on the world stage.
Small businesses are not the only group excluded from Davos, the programme can be found here. Most of the charities represented at the event are either the hard work of people whose personal wealth means they can use their money to do good and are invited anyway such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, or else are people whose fame has given them the opportunity to be heard at this level. Speakers such as Matt Damon, Shakira and Jamie Oliver are all due to be heard. So the question has to be how do the real charities, those that in the UK provide accomodation for homeless people, that work to help extricate people from loan sharks and from drugs, that deal with mental health issues etc etc get their voices heard. We know they are rarely listened to by our own Government in a way that leads to change. If Stephen Kelly believes the best way of getting small businesses listened to is some form of Forum away from Davos, what is needed for the voices of the real charity pioneers?
As a postscript there is one session in Davos on Friday Morning called Mental Health Matters which sounds promising. Sadly the text below the headline asks the question: What can we do now to mitigate the consequences of mental illness?