2nd November, 2015
Recently the National Enterprise Network has been compiling a list of those people within the industry who have received honours for their work in our community. This is an excellent initiative and we should celebrate their achievements.
This has made me consider how business and industry is represented within the honours system.
I have looked back at those who have received some sort of honours from MBE to CBE, knights to Lords, and the Queens Award for Enterprise. Unfortunately the picture is not an encouraging one within business and industry sectors.
Firstly, those receiving awards for their efforts in the business community appear to be poorly represented compared to other sectors. This is a real cause for concern as business is the driver for the economy and thus everything else that flows from it.
As we have come to expect honour awards seem to automatically follow the reaching of certain levels in the public sector (officer or elected), and they seem to bear little relationship to what impact those individuals actually have. Where business leaders are recognised, there are far too many who have climbed the corporate ladder compared to those who have risked their own money, time and sweat to build a company.
In recent years the honours system has received a poor press for appearing to be a tool for political patronage or popularity. Perhaps it once was so, but that does not mean that it should remain that way.
In contrast the Queens Award for Enterprise appears to be a genuine effort to truly recognise those who have made a marked contribution to the country. There does not appear to be any links to politics or popularity! It is gratifying to see so many ‘unsung heroes’ within the list of recipients – surely this is the essence of a true honours system.
It would be naive to believe that the honours system will be reformed by any political party whilst they enjoy patronage but if we could, my initial suggestions are:
Less importance be placed upon those with a high media profile – reward for deeds not publicity
Learn from the Queens Awards and base honours upon real achievement
A greater proportion of higher awards to self-made entrepreneurs
I would also question the morals for giving an award to anyone who has been in a position of power within a company that uses nefarious devices to avoid paying their fair tax share, and would like to see no-one who has donated corporate funds to any political party receiving an honour until at least five years after the last donation.
Other than these, I applaud everyone who has received an honour and I sincerely hope that we see many more entrepreneurs and other enterprising individuals similarly recognised.
Written by Kevin Horne, CEO, Nwes
The list compiled by the National Enterprise Network of those who have received The Queen’s Award can be found here. However, this isn’t the whole picture – there are many enterprise support professionals who have been awarded other honours too. With help from the wider network, the NEN will be compiling a more in depth list to share. If you know someone who should be added for their past accolade, then let NEN know!