Dear members and friends of UNIAPAC
The globalization, the development of instant communication, the ever-increasing inter-linking of the fate of the world various communities, the financial crises and their practical consequences in terms of unemployment or loss of lodging, the high degree of political instability in parts of the world, the environmental evolutions and even the difficulty to grasp science breakthroughs have created at least in the Western world a widespread feeling of fear, of apprehension.
For the first time in many generations the future is not perceived as being able to provide better living conditions. Even if it is still the responsibility of current business leaders to “set direction” and to “lead and serve”, more than ever, it has become their role to give meaning to the undertakings of their staff, to understand and motivate them, to draw upon and develop their talents.
In fulfilling these expectations, business leaders are bringers of hope within the company and beyond. In our societies, the company is a favourable place for life, for encounters, for conflict or integration and creativity, and therefore fosters individual and collective development. While preparing the 2012 Congress, Les EDC (French UNIAPAC association) issued a questionnaire to youths attending universities, vocational, engineering and business schools.
From the 1100 questionnaires answered, it was apparent that this generation (average age of people surveyed 23) considers that the 2008-2010 financial crisis engendered a feeling of fear and revealed a global, corporate, societal and cultural crisis. Although they do consider it essential for workers to feel a connection and attachment to their company, they find it regrettable that employees are merely one of the adjustment variables that may be sanctioned at the demand of shareholders or following a decision to relocate. They therefore consider it important that man, working man and also man from civil society should once again be the focus of concern, since “the company should also engage in targeted CSR actions”. Even if they do consider work atmosphere and salary as essential factors, these young graduates are seeking to place equivalent but not greater importance on their professional life as they do on their private life, family and leisure activities. They hope to be given managerial responsibilities, and more than 60% envisage starting their own company.
These youths therefore, undoubtedly like the majority of their peers, be they qualified or not, expect business leaders to meet these challenges by performing the role of guide who provides meaning, going beyond the role of a visionary strategist. Man cannot live without hope, our world cannot progress without hope for hope drives entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity and positive interpersonal relationships. It is for this reason that the Congress will not only hinge upon this new sense of hopeful expectation that business leaders must bring within their companies and within the society at large but also on their encounters with others, notably youths.
“Business as a source of hope” is therefore the theme which has been chosen for our XXIVth UNIAPAC International Congress. I invite you cordially to join us during these two days and a half where we will share our experiences, receive testimonies, nourish our view of our vocation as Christian executives and reinforce the sign of hope we are in our daily professional activities.
President UNIAPAC International