As business leaders we’re used to being challenged by our customers, partners, employees and shareholders: lower costs, better prices, more innovation, greater efficiency. But a more recent demand is for businesses to justify their place in the world, to give back, to contribute and solve problems faced by our society. Consumers expect business leaders to do the right thing, aligned to their values.
Recent research conducted by Salesforce shows that, now more than ever, there is a growing expectation that business has to provide leadership on values. People want to know what the future holds and they are looking to business to support them as they create a better world around them.
Almost three-quarters of UK consumers think business leaders need to step up and help create a successful global Britain following all the recent political upheaval experienced in the country. In practice, this involves working in partnership with government to ensure that the UK maintains and grows its economic prosperity.
One of the most prominent issues for businesses is that of a potential skills shortage. Over half of the business leaders we surveyed said they were concerned about a potential future tech brain drain. But business leaders also have the power to ensure the UK has the digital skills it needs and, encouragingly, they recognise this fact.
Over half plan on investing more in developing their own tech talent either through reskilling older generations or upskilling people from more disadvantaged backgrounds.
As part of our Trailhead campaign to support the reskilling of UK workers, we’re contributing to this task by pledging to help 250,000 people across Europe work towards a Salesforce certification by 2022.
“Two of the world’s greatest problem solvers are people and technology. Both are fundamental to creating a successful global Britain.” said Antony Walker, deputy CEO, TechUK. “Regardless of the impact of Brexit on the economy, technology leaders must continue their efforts to close the skills gap and work with governments and industry to tackle productivity.”
While platforms like Trailhead can empower those without the skills needed to thrive in the digital economy, industries are looking to drive productivity using new technologies. Almost two-thirds of business leaders say investing in new technologies is now way more important, particularly given the fact that we will need to foster direct relationships with countries.
This sentiment was shared by the consumers we surveyed. Over three in five believe that businesses should invest more in technology to increase productivity. As well as investing in technology, over 60% of business leaders acknowledge their role in supporting UK startups and entrepreneurs.
There is a clear thread running through these findings. Business leaders and consumers agree that the UK must continue to invest in technology, skills and entrepreneurship to thrive.
It’s also clear that it is not just consumers challenging businesses to take responsibility, but that business leaders are challenging themselves. As uncertainty becomes the new norm, businesses will face further calls from within and beyond to step up and lead.