CEO Perspective – The ability to disagree

Wednesday, January 8th, 2020

As we enter 2020, and after a year of two Brexit deadlines and one General Election, which has shifted the political landscape, the challenge for business is: what happens next?

Businesses have had plenty of reasons to hold back on investment over the past three years. For many, this period has been trying to manage a change they may not have wanted and want to see what the future trading arrangement will look like. Moving-forward, many will be wanting to see if this new government will genuinely be a business-friendly one.

The Kingston Chamber Brexit survey highlighted many issues. The frustrations at the lack of clear information as to what might happen, the actual loss of skilled staff, the disconnect and lack of recognition in the value of the business community and how the stalling with decisions has drained confidence.

As a Chamber of Commerce, we believe that there is real need to catch up with investment in infrastructures, public spending, resolving business rate issues and regeneration projects in Kingston and nationally. A significant public spending boost for 2020-21, more than 4% in real terms on day-to-day expenditure, was announced by chancellor Sajid Javid in September. However, delivering on these commitments do not realistically happen overnight.

On a broader level, if there is one area where we need to improve upon is the ability to disagree better. Today, public discourse has become so ill-tempered, snide and lacking respect. Disagreements are good, it is through the best arguments that results get refined and improved. We need to find ways to stop shouting and start listening. We need to greater knowledge in our debates, flexibility and openness not to put everything as black or white.

So as we start 2020 afresh, and we some degree of positivity, we hope that this historical election result can lead to an honest start to re-booting business growth in Kingston and
re-connecting disenfranchised communities. For too long now, the business agenda has been relegated on national and local levels. The Kingston Chamber is determined to continue supporting businesses and to bang the drum that after the past three years, it is now time, for the sustainability of our whole Kingston borough community, that businesses not only see but feel, that they valued and central to local plans.

And as we go along our journeys, let us be mindful of our language when we disagree with opinions. No one has been insulted into an agreement. Dial down the rhetoric, draw in the insults and listen compassionately.


Forbes Low

CEO – Kingston Chamber of Commerce

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