Professor Simon Anholt

We speak to Professor Simon Anholt, Founder of the Good Country Index and Independent Policy Advisor, ahead of his opening keynote at the virtual CIPD Festival of Work on 10 June 2020.

Simon will be presenting the opening keynote on 'Building good businesses - developing resilient workforces to thrive in uncertainty.'​

Can you tell us a bit more about yourself and the Good Country Index?
I’ve spent the last 20 years advising Heads of State and Heads of Government in nearly 60 countries on how their countries can co-operate and collaborate more imaginatively and effectively with the international community. My approach is – to paraphrase President Trump – “no country last” (or maybe that should be “make the world great again”).  I launched the first edition of the Good Country Index at a TED event in 2014: the talk has been viewed more than 10 million times and the index is now in its 5th edition. It measures what each country contributes to the world outside its own borders, and what it takes away: a balance-sheet for the planet.

We’re looking forward to your opening keynote on ‘Building good businesses – developing resilient workforces to thrive in uncertainty.’ What do you hope delegates will be able to take away and apply in their own work the very next day?
I hope to explain how their actions and even their attitudes directly impact the state of the world and the future of humanity: to challenge that helpless sensation we all have of “little old me vs. great big world”. I want to explain what a good company is: not one that sacrifices itself in order to help people and places less fortunate than itself – because that’s an old idea that never really made much sense or even did much good – but one that successfully harmonises its domestic and international responsibilities, and creates better business as a result. I want to show how we can all help tackle the ‘grand challenges’ without resorting to activism, charity, petitions or even the conventional democratic processes.

What do you think we have we learnt over the past decade that can help organisations to focus and strengthen business strategies at this time?
That globalisation can’t be left to its own devices: it needs careful, collaborative and responsible management. And that involves companies and individuals as much as governments and international organisations. We have also learned how CSR is essential for companies, and is now long overdue for countries and cities too.

What is your biggest piece of advice for anyone attending this year’s virtual CIPD Festival of Work?
Remember that one of the finest qualities human beings possess (and one which appears to be in very short supply at this moment in history) is the ability to change our minds.