Nicola Sturgeon outlines “economic case for progressive business practices” in New York


The public and private sectors can work together to reduce inequality, first minister tells Glasgow Caledonian campus event

BUSINESSES can play a leading role in creating a more equal society and benefit from the consequences, according to a speech delivered by Nicola Sturgeon during her trip to the United States.

Speaking at Glasgow Caledonian University New York (GCU New York), Sturgeon continued to promote inward investment to Scotland, while emphasising the potential for business to create a better society.

In a speech she described as “the hard economic case for more progressive business practices”, the first minister celebrated social businesses, the living wage and the financial benefits of reducing inequality.

“A strong economy and a fairer society aren’t competing aims, they are complementary ones. That’s why all of us, government, businesses, the trade unions and the third sector, have an interest in creating a wealthier, fairer and stronger society,” Sturgeon said.

The event all provided the opportunity for attendees – which included university and business leaders – on the impact of the SNP surge.

BBC North America editor Jon Sopel asked Sturgeon whether – following the historic events of the independence referendum and General Election – the last 12 months had been a success or a failure. Sturgeon said it had been “a successful failure”.

When asked by CommonSpace on whether Scotland should trade freely with countries that abuse human rights (like Saudi Arabia) or impose trade restrictions until human rights conditions are improved, Sturgeon replied: “One of the things that really appalls and concerns me at the moment is the suggestion that the UK will pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights and repeal human rights legislation. That would be a massive retrograde step.

“Whether it’s foreign policy or business practices if you don’t start out with the right intentions to behave ethically then you’re going to go wrong very quickly. It should be a motivation for progressive leaders in every aspect of what we do.”

CommonSpace also asked the first minister if it was possible to pursue a progressive economic policy through the Fair Work Convention when the Westminster government is attacking trade union rights and large swathes of Scotland’s low paid, precarious jobs market has no workplace representation.

Sturgeon replied: “We oppose the undermining of trade union rights by the UK Government, vigorously oppose that. We’re also trying to positively work with trade unions to develop a new model of work in Scotland and the STUC is an integral part of the Fair Work Convention.

“So as well as opposing attempts to erode trade union rights, we can lead by example in terms of how we do things differently.”

Sturgeon also told CommonSpace that it was important for men to act as feminist advocates for gender equality. (Click here to read more).

The first minister’s US tour continues with meetings in Washington D.C. at the World Bank and a further speech at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Picture courtesy of Caledonian University