It would be a foolish person who says that they know what will happen. At the political level, confusion abounds. None of the Westminster politicians seems clear on how to handle the challenges of Brexit.
In Edinburgh, the issue of Scottish self-determination continues to overshadow proceedings and politicians of all colours find themselves shocked by an electorate that seems far less predictable than that of the past.
Unsurprisingly, the economic outlook is also challenging with UK growth being downgraded in the recent budget. Uncertainty also resides in the world of consumer opinion. Recent exposes into the financial dealings of some of our most popular brands have caused a collapse in consumer trust. No wonder there has been recent growth in the old trusted technologies of vinyl records and cameras that use film.
Technology however continues to provide new challenges and opportunities, for which you can also read uncertainty. Young people today will need to plan their careers with both eyes open to see which jobs can be replaced by robots and algorithms and which will continue to require human intellect and emotional intelligence.
So, against this context of unprecedented change you might expect the organisations that employ most people and provide most services in Scotland to be adapting to change. Instead, we see a situation where many organisations are still led by middle-class males.
The truth is that we are not utilising the resources available to help us embrace change. A hundred years after women’s suffrage and 50 years since the explosion of the women’s rights movement, we find ourselves in a maelstrom of sexual misconduct allegations.
Less than a quarter of our board positions are occupied by women. We are still not effectively utilising the 50 per cent of our population that could help solve future challenges.
When you look beyond gender imbalance, things are just the same. Despite the enjoyment the nation has gained from Jonnie Peacock on the running track and the dance floor, we still find ourselves with most disabled people currently being unemployed.
Are we saying that disabled people cannot help solve future challenges?
In a time when our organisations are surrounded by consumers whose income is falling behind inflation, are we doing enough to ensure that people from backgrounds of poverty are being engaged with and listened to?
There are similar cases to be made regarding race and sexuality. But what can the Marketing Society do to help?
People who have different backgrounds and different experiences are far more likely to generate innovative ideas to solve future challenges.
The Marketing Society has a vision of inspiring bold leadership and for this reason we have launched a new Champion of Diversity and Equality Award as part of our Star Awards Programme. These awards – now in their 14th year – have a numbers of categories including Development, Strategic, Communication, Sector and Champions and are our main platform for promoting the world leading marketing community we have in Scotland.
We see a need to ensure that our organisations are ready for the challenges ahead and maximise the resources from our communities that are available to meet those challenges. We are looking to identify the organisations which have developed programmes to improve the equality of their operations and to share best practice for the wider benefit of all.
We are looking for nominations for companies, organisations and groups who could justifiably be called Champions of Diversity and Equality.
The deadline for entries is on 19 February and the Star Awards dinner is in Edinburgh on 21 June. This will be a wonderful night celebrating the success of marketing in Scotland but far more importantly improving the equality of our organisations which will help us generate far-reaching ideas to meet the challenges ahead.
For full details on the Star Awards see starawards.marketingsociety.com
Paul Bartlett is corporate affairs director at C & C and a Fellow of the Marketing Society.