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Be the Business launches Business Leadership for a Better Decade campaign

Business Leadership for a Better Decade
Sir Charlie Mayfield (R) and Tony Danker (L) open Business Leadership for a Better Decade

The Business Leadership for a Better Decade campaign has been launched by productivity-led movement Be the Business. More than 100 chairs and CEOs of the UK’s leading businesses met to demonstrate how important the competitiveness agenda is to Britain’s future economic success.

At the launch event in London, more than 20 new partnerships between Britain’s largest employers were unveiled, designed to make every part of the UK economy more competitive. Under the campaign banner Business Leadership for a Better Decade, many of the companies present, including Lloyds Banking Group, Amazon, BAE Systems, McKinsey & Co, and Salesforce, announced partnerships with Be the Business.

These partnerships are designed to turbocharge competitiveness in every region and every sector of the economy. They include everything from supporting management and leadership programmes for SME leaders, developing tools to boost adoption of technology, and putting forward senior executives as mentors for ambitious smaller businesses.

Productivity (how much the UK produces per employee) is a long-standing problem. Since 2008, it has grown by an average of just 0.2 per cent each year and for the past year has been in decline. It is the single most important factor when it comes to raising living standards in a country. ONS figures estimate the UK’s productivity crisis costs the average worker £5,000 in lost earnings each year and McKinsey analysis found that even a modest improvement could deliver a boost of £130bn to the UK economy each year.

Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman for Be the Business and John Lewis Partnership, said: “Productivity matters. No growth for over ten years means people are poorer and the UK is weaker, competitively, than we should be. We want to change that and we know it can be done. We’re stepping up, as businesses, to support a movement across the UK. With this support we will work with businesses, with sectors and in places right across the country to build a better decade.”

Tony Danker, Be the Business CEO, added: “We’re at day one of this campaign. We want every business in the country to get involved – regardless of size. Put productivity and competitiveness top of the list for 2020. In your own firm, your supply chain, your customer base and your region. This is in our hands and it is the only way to get the economy firing on all cylinders.”

Find out why SMEs and larger firms are getting involved

Business Leadership for a Better Decade commitments

Contributing companies: Accenture, Amazon, Aviva, BAE Systems, British Land, Cisco, Deloitte, EY, Grant Thornton, KPMG, GlaxoSmithKline, John Lewis Partnership, Landsec, Lloyds Banking Group, McKinsey & Co, Moneypenny, News UK, Rolls-Royce, Royal Bank of Scotland, Salesforce, Santander, Severn Trent and Siemens.

Lord Blackwell, chairman at Lloyds Banking Group, commented: “Productivity is critical to the UK’s economic performance, so it is important we support the mission of Be the Business, using our combined strengths and resources to help drive productivity improvements. For its part, Lloyds Banking Group is committed to using its strong relationships with businesses of all sizes to assist them in addressing their individual opportunities for productivity growth, tapping into the wealth of skills, research and support available to them.”

Sir Roger Carr, chairman of BAE Systems, said: “BAE Systems is a founder member of Be the Business, and instrumental in developing ‘Productivity through People’, an executive education programme designed specifically for SME leaders.

“We are proud to be an integral part of Be the Business’s mission of helping every firm to be match fit to succeed. The UK economy is an ecosystem and by helping to improve the productivity of individual companies in our supply chain, we will make a real contribution to both the security and prosperity agenda of the United Kingdom.”


Accenture is working with others in the Professional and Businesses Services Council to encourage enrolment of mentors from across the sector, including from within their own staff. Accenture will continue to contribute to the development of productivity improvement initiatives for other sectors.


Amazon provides a headquarters for Be the Business, contributing central London office facilities and world class technical support. Amazon will also lead the charge on helping UK SMEs technologically transform their businesses providing mentors from their staff and offering AWS credits for SMEs interested in moving to the cloud.


Aviva is becoming a leading supporter of Be the Business’s Mentoring for Growth programme which pairs senior executives with ambitious SMEs. Aviva will also explore ideas such as new productivity tools and other support mechanisms for SME customers.

BAE Systems

BAE Systems is extending its commitment to Be the Business, directly contributing to the mission with continued support of the Productivity Through People programme, a commitment to help develop the next generation of UK business leaders by encouraging senior executives to become mentors for high potential SMEs, and a financial contribution to the charity to support its continued good work.

British Land

Be the Business is working with British Land and other leading companies in the property development sector to explore how productivity can be improved in the industry.


Cisco and Be the Business will partner on a new Productivity Index, building on the success of the analysis Cisco published in 2019. It will explore regional differences in productivity performance. Cisco will also work with Be the Business to develop a range of initiatives to boost technology adoption in lower productivity regions.


Deloitte will collaborate with Be the Business to provide SMEs access to digital products that help them to understand and manage their finances and performance more effectively. It will work alongside Be the Business to develop new research and insights into solving the productivity puzzle and develop regionally-based business movements to drive up productivity. Deloitte will also provide mentors to help expand the Mentoring for Growth programme nationwide.


EY is supporting Be the Business with a focus on technology adoption – an important driver of increased productivity. It will assist Be the Business with development and delivery for the Productivity through People programme and will work to extend EY’s capabilities to the SME community across a range of areas, from cyber security to manufacturing excellence, in collaboration with Be the Business.

Grant Thornton

Grant Thornton is helping to address the productivity challenge by providing experienced business leaders as mentors to aspiring SMEs, through the Mentoring for Growth programme.


GSK has been a supporter of Be the Business since its inception and co-developed the highly successful Mentoring for Growth programme. GSK has seconded executives directly to Be the Business in order to help scale the mentoring programme to allow SMEs all around the country to access strategic guidance from experienced executives. GSK has committed to continuing this support in 2020.

John Lewis Partnership

The John Lewis Partnership is a major supporter of Be the Business’ Mentoring for Growth programme. This partnership will grow over the next year through the provision of more mentors from JLP.  JLP is also supporting Be the Business through in-kind donation of corporate services support.


KPMG are not only providing senior executives as mentors, they are taking an active role in promoting the Mentoring for Growth programme amongst their stakeholders. KPMG will also use their expertise in strategically advising UK family businesses to help guide and inform the Be the Business Family Business network programme.


Landsec is working with others to drive the creation of an action-orientated cross-sector group. This will be focused on delivering productivity improvements in the construction sector, including practical initiatives to be developed by the group, and trialled with SMEs. Successful initiatives will be scaled using the networks and supply chains of the Group to ensure maximum impact.

Lloyds Banking Group

Lloyds Banking Group is taking a leading role in supporting Be the Business through a significant commitment, worth more than £3m over three years. This includes the Group’s innovative Productivity Fund which offers discounted lending for SMEs that have completed Be the Business’ Productivity Through People programme, and a commitment to provide mentorship to SMEs from 50 of its senior leaders.

McKinsey & Company

McKinsey & Company’s commitment to Be the Business is two-fold. First, McKinsey will work with Be the Business to identify how to mobilise technology adoption across the UK, with a particular focus on the SME community. McKinsey has also committed to scale up its provision of mentors to SME owners to support them in being more technologically enabled.


Moneypenny, the leading outsourced communications provider, has committed to help SMEs by using its experience of positive employee engagement and exceptional customer service to improve company productivity and to bring technological solutions to process problems in rapidly growing small businesses.

News UK

News UK has committed to help spread the message of the Be the Business movement throughout their publications including The Sun, The Times, and the Sunday Times. News UK will also host a series of regional productivity events.

Royal Bank of Scotland

RBS is supporting Be the Business across a range of initiatives, including sector approaches to the Productivity through People programme and working towards a contribution of mentors from their staff. In addition it will promote productivity-boosting initiatives to their clients across the country as part of a national campaign to raise awareness of how leaders of small businesses can improve their performance


Rolls Royce has supported Be the Business from the outset, in particular helping design and support the Productivity Through People programme, which they will continue to support in 2020. They will also participate in the mentoring programme as well as providing outstanding IP on manufacturing productivity to the SME community.


Salesforce has committed to partnering with Be the Business to improve the digital skills of UK SMEs. Through Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform, SMEs can learn many of the technology and business skills they need to stay competitive in today’s digital age. Salesforce will also host a series of events for SMEs across the region to provide practical advice on technology and reskilling to support business growth.


Santander is partnering with Be the Business to provide support such as mentoring and masterclasses, to improve proficiency and skills within businesses across the country and in turn improve productivity in the UK economy.

Severn Trent

Severn Trent is supporting the Mentoring for Growth programme; it is encouraging senior managers to become mentors, to support SMEs that want to grow and improve their productivity.


Siemens will continue to give its full backing to Be the Business by engaging directly with SMEs in practical ways like mentoring and best practice sharing. This is the most effective way to transform the fortunes of UK manufacturing productivity.

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