IoD’s Stephen Martin on how YOUR voice can be heard in corridors of power

Join Policy Voice: Stephen Martin pictured with Lady Barbara Judge

Stephen Martin urges members to take part in Policy Voice surveys so that he can better represent the voice of business in the corridors of power

Last month, in my first Director column, I mentioned my love of the music of Bruce Springsteen. In one of his very early songs Henry Boy, written in 1972, he sings: “It’s a hard world when you’re the new kid in town, ain’t it, Henry boy.” Having recently moved down to London from Scunthorpe, I know how Henry feels. But I actually think this is an advantage as I am able to bring first-hand regional business experience into the heart of Westminster. I will speak directly to ministers and civil servants on your behalf, telling them about the issues that you are dealing with. 

Indeed, on my first day I visited the Treasury with colleagues from the IoD policy team to press the point on matters such as helping SMEs cope with the revaluation of business rates, which is going to hike up costs and overheads for many of our members. It is striking how politicians truly value specific examples about real companies from across the UK. They clearly have lots of data at their fingertips, but can only know what policies will work if they understand the practical impact on people like you.

I am keen to represent all IoD members and will be visiting every part of the country in the coming months to gather essential information to feed back to government. In my second week as director general I visited my hometown of Belfast. I picked up on several specific concerns relating to the fact that Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that shares a land border with another country.

While it is impossible for me to meet every one of you individually, you can directly influence the meetings I’m having with central government by taking part in Policy Voice surveys. The 3,000 members of this panel have their views taken directly to the corridors of power. If you haven’t already signed up, I would urge you to do so. The more people take part in our surveys, the deeper the insight we deliver to the various Whitehall departments on how the experience of business varies across the UK. 

I can’t promise to get ministers to change everything overnight, but if we keep hammering away on the need for low and simple taxes, reliable infrastructure, and a good mix of skills in the workforce, I believe we can make things better for businesses across the UK.

It was great to meet…

Policy-Voice-Karen-ShearerKaren Shearer CDir

Financial director, Novosco

On my recent trip to Belfast I held a roundtable lunch with local businessleaders at the headquarters of Novosco, a company specialising in cloud technology and IT integration. Karen Shearer is the financial director and, clearly, a proud chartered director. I was delighted by her guided tour of the Novosco facility, which directly overlooks the dry dock where the Titanic was built, and was impressed that the company mission “to be the fearless champions of better” was plastered onto a Superman wall mural. I was soon brought back down to earth with a bump, though, following an unnerving experience in the virtual reality room when I slipped off a narrow beam from a great height. Alas, even in the VR world, Superman did not come to my rescue!

This month I will be…

American Gothic, mentioned in article 'Join Policy Voice'Visiting…
America after the Fall, Royal Academy

The 1930s was a time of economic anxiety across America. This exhibition has 45 works documenting the era from giants such as Jackson Pollock and Edward Hopper. I’m particularly keen to see Grant Wood’s iconic American Gothic, never before viewed outside North America., mentioned in article "Join Policy Voice"

Listening to…

I quickly discovered there is no room on my commuter train to read a paper. The upside is I’ve time for the podcast. It features fascinating interviews with start-ups and offers insight into the challenges faced by members of IoD 99.

Banff Mountain Film Festival, mentioned in article "join Policy Voice"Watching…
Banff Mountain Film Festival

This month I am in Newcastle for the IoD North East Business Leaders’ Dinner, and going to the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Whitley Bay, which features great shorts about exploration, adventure and extreme sports – pastimes that serve as a release for many an IoD member.

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Stephen Martin is the IoD director general. Tell us your views by emailing us  


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About author

Stephen Martin

Stephen Martin

Stephen Martin is director general of the IoD. Prior to joining the IoD in February 2017, Martin was chief executive of Clugston Group, a role he held from 2006. While running the construction company, Martin appeared in Channel Four's Undercover Boss, assuming a new identity to go incognito in the business. Martin's career has also included roles at Westinghouse Security Systems, Amey Rail and twchief executive of Barhale Construction. He was made a fellow of the IoD in 2011. To read Director's exclusive first interview with Stephen Martin click the globe icon below.

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