Liz McAreavey: Give something back and we will all profit

Liz McAreavey is CEO of Edinburgh Chamber Of Commerce. Picture: Scott Louden
Liz McAreavey is CEO of Edinburgh Chamber Of Commerce. Picture: Scott Louden
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Tempus Fugit – February is almost at an end and the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce Business Awards are over for another year.

I’ve often heard there are too many awards ceremonies these days – but, to me, recognising success, innovation and hard graft is the right thing to do. Not only does it profile the winners but the impact on staff, who are the real winners, is significant and long-lasting. It’s a very visible way of saying thank you.

Our seventh Annual Awards welcomed almost 600 businesses to the EICC to recognise and celebrate what a vibrant, enterprising and simply fabulous array of talent we have in Edinburgh and across Scotland.

People from large and small businesses, from tech to finance to third sector gathered to share in the celebrations. But a clear difference in this year’s awards was the focus on responsible business, diversity and partnership. One of our hottest contested categories this year was the new Inspiring Partnership award which acknowledged the commitment to creating sustainable and valuable partnerships between business and the third sector.

Whilst we focus on growing the economy of Scotland, there is a growing momentum around inclusive growth and how business should not only focus on figures and profit, but also on what they give back to the community. Businesses are on board and have a strong appetite to give something back. This was evidenced in spades through the submissions. I sense a tide of change.

Colin Temple, MD of Schuh, one of the keynote speakers of the evening, is a perfect example of how doing good can mean doing well. Committed to employing young people and paying significantly above the minimum wage means he was voted 3rd best person to work for in the UK – but also runs a £350 million turnover business with more than 134 stores in a tough retail sector.

Using technology and training to constantly improve his business with ‘little victories’, he could quote impressive figures alongside an obvious commitment to his people and community. As he said, if you get the three Ps right – Product, People, Process – you get to the fourth P, Profit.

With the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal announced and beginning to develop the details of its key projects, innovation and skills is a main focus. With careful planning and attention given to training, skills and education, we really do have an opportunity to enable people and unlock the huge potential of our hard to reach and excluded sector of society. The Deal, a platform to accelerate economic growth, has the opportunity to significantly change the city and region. But inclusivity, diversity and economic success can only be achieved if we establish an ecosystem of collaborative partnerships between business, innovators, third sector and public sector. Edinburgh is making huge strides in creating this.

The Edinburgh Chamber and its members are fully behind making Edinburgh the most inclusive city in the world.

Liz McAreavey is CEO of Edinbugh Chamber of Commerce.