The fifth annual Business in Oxford conference on Wednesday was a celebration of collaboration and economic prosperity – whilst also acknowledging the challenges that are holding the county back.
OCF joined around 900 delegates at BIO2018, billed as the biggest business-networking and showcase event in the county. With over 70 informative talks and over 80 exhibitors, it was a great chance for members of OCF’s responsible business group Reciprocate to catch up with each other and other local businesses. Watch a video giving a taster of the day here.
The conference kicked off with a celebration of Oxfordshire as a vibrant and connected place, but also one that experiences challenges to growth and happiness, such as the lack of affordable housing, lower than average educational attainment, and a transport infrastructure in need of investment. This mirrors findings by OCF, published in our Oxfordshire Uncovered report in 2016.
OCF’s Chief Executive Jayne Woodley presented in the Business in the Community seminar, emphasising the community foundation’s role in joining up all those with an interest in addressing local social problems, whether they are businesses, individuals or other trusts. OCF can help by articulating which issues should be prioritised, and convening the various parties to work together in a common direction.
Reciprocate member Grant Hayward showcased some of the work being done by companies in the county to embed social purpose into the way they operate, particularly those committed to becoming B Corps. He suggested that whilst charities are having to become more businesslike and entrepreneurial to survive, businesses are having to demonstrate their ethical credentials and prove that they exist for more than simply making money.
There was a similar focus on social purpose and collaboration in the plenary sessions, with Simon Biltcliffe from Webmart showing how his company embodies compassionate capitalism, and Richard Rosser from B4 emphasising the importance of relationships and trust in doing business locally.