Inspire UK: US Election and the impact on "Brand USA"

Thursday 24 November 2016 - By Amanda Ciske, Marketing & Communications Manager, Inspire 

The Inspire network held its annual festive event on 22 November 2016 at the London Capital Club. More than 60 female leaders from the highest areas of business, academia and government joined for a highly charged evening of networking and discussion on the US Presidential Election results and what this means for business and women. 

The evening began with a welcome from Carol Rosati OBE, Director of the Harvey Nash Board Practice and Global Head of Inspire, who discussed the important role of networks like Inspire to connecting truly inspirational women and supporting their advancement. She explained that in the nine years since launching Inspire there has been a lot of progress and the network itself has grown to over 7,500 women worldwide with the launch of chapters in Singapore and Tokyo this year. But there is still a long way to go and in the UK the focus has finally turned to the female executive pipeline, where movement has been glacial. 

She then said we must turn our attention overseas and introduced the keynote speaker, Allyson Stewart-Allen, Chief Executive, International Marketing Partners and co-author of the best-selling book Working with Americans. A renowned marketer and Californian based in Europe for over 25 years, Allyson's expertise is in brand internationalisation and helping leading businesses globally improve their relationships with American business partners, bosses and colleagues.

Allyson gave her views on the US presidential race and the impact on "Brand USA" and the historic relationship between the UK and US. She described it as a disruptive moment for Americans as well as the rest of the world, with growing concern now that the country will be alienated. She explained that the president sets the tone for the country's brand and values and many will be questioning whether this is what we stand for or what we want to stand for. Allyson discussed what she considers to be American core values:

  • Going direct. It's all about speed and cutting out the middle man. Americans cut to the chase and waste no time
  • Independence and self-reliance. Believing in self-sufficiency, that we don't need anybody else and we can get the job done ourselves 
  • We're direct. What you see is what you get. Allyson gave the example of Trump's very unusual 'invitation' to the Prime Minister Theresa May, "If you're heading to the USA, let me know." 
  • Better to be first than to be the best
  • If you're successful in something then that can be translated elsewhere. Trump is a perfect example of this having no experience in public office
  • Determinism. Everyone has a one-to-one relationship with God. This has its origins in the Quaker past. We determine our future
  • Darwinism. Evolve or die. This is seen as a natural cleansing cycle and regulators just get in the way
It was interesting to match these values against Trump and you could start to see why he was always a serious candidate and should not have been underestimated. 

Allyson discussed what she thought would happen next. she seemed less pessimistic about the predicted economic impacts of a Trump presidency. Trade trumps Trump, she said. Doing business is agnostic of political powers and hopefully this will have no effect on trading and tariffs, especially with the Chinese. Once in office, she suggested his first focus will likely be on the USA and making America great again. But there are too many forces constraining him, so he will be harnessed in terms of what he can do. Campaign promises got him in, now he got the job and now he will have to change tact. Allyson suggested the positive outcome from all of this is perhaps the increase in activism, people are mobilised and participating.

The evening rounded off with a stimulating Q&A that carried on long into the networking drinks. It was another amazing evening and topical theme.