The question ‘does sport have the power to change the world?’ was one that was the central theme to the recent Beyond Sport Summit in London.
With speakers and panel members from all walks of life, including the Prime Minister of Albania, an ex-youth offender, and Lord Ashworth; the talks covered a wide range of opinion and discussions.
The theme of the conference was ‘Beyond The Divide’, and day’s focus was centred around ‘what is the role of sport to influence change in sensitive political and economic settings, and how are businesses implementing this in their strategies?’
One session covered the influence of sporting groups in communities where conflict is rife. Panellists Barry McGuigan, Kevin Cahill (Comic Relief) and Lord Dr Hastings (KMPG International) traded examples of when the field of play has been a place of respite for many of those who live in fractured communities. Lord Ashdown had further supported this theory earlier in the day, stating that the sporting arena is “one of the only places where common humanity is celebrated”.
The afternoon opened with the question:
‘As companies expand globally to engage emerging markets and new consumers, how are they responsibly addressing the social and political challenges encountered along the journey?’
Paulette Cohen (Barclays), Jonathan Garrett (Jaguar Land Rover), Tim Griffin (Dell UK), Geoff McDonald (formally Unilever) and Kate Robertson (One Young World) were invited to the stage to discuss what the role of CSR is within business.
Communicating a brand’s CSR activity is the focus of various global brands’ marketing campaigns, and when the question “do businesses use that warm and fuzzy feeling to drive sales” was asked, it created vibrant discussion.
Jonathan Garrett explained that whatever Jaguar Land Rover do in business, it must reach social and sustainable goals. Geoff Macdonald explained how Unilever’s activity in developing countries to encourage people to wash their hands was created to satisfy both the goal of increased profitability through product sales, but also help to alleviate the effect of poor hygiene in these countries.
Kate Robertson stressed the importance of transparency in business and communications; “people have to trust your brand and expect honesty”. She also highlighted how the rise of social media has given the power back to the people in terms of communicating their own brand experience in a very public way.
Throughout the day each session led the delegates back to the same question – what can you do, and do you do in your role to make a change?
Our team left St Paul’s wanting to change the world, and asking themselves that very question – what does this mean for you? So grab yourself a coffee, sit back for five minutes and think about what is the potential in your role to change something.