Last Thursday was The Yorkshire Post’s Excellence in Business Awards and, as you would expect from the region’s premier business awards event, it has left me with a great deal of food for thought.
Over the course of the evening there were many emotional flash points, not least of which when I presented the Individual Award for Excellence to Trevor Hicks, the owner of England Worthside and one of the principal leaders of the Justice for 96 campaign.
Mr Hicks lost his two daughters Sarah and Vicky in the Hillsborough disaster, a loss I genuinely cannot even begin to fathom.
Equipped with a strength and resolve that I can only stand back in awe of, he and his colleagues never gave up despite more than two decades of setbacks in their quest for justice.
If truth be told there are not many people walking this earth who I admire more than Mr Hicks and to present him with the award was without question the greatest honour of my career.
Something he said that evening has stayed with me throughout the weekend and into this week, mainly because of events around the world.
He talked about the experiences he had in his career in business and observed that, were all people in positions of power in possession of the kind of ethics he had seen in his career, and that which had been on display throughout the evening, the world would be a better place.
His remarks drew a standing ovation from the assembled guests and struck a chord with the whole room and beyond.
The fact that within days lurid allegations of harassment and abuse among the political classes continued to surface, as well as the distressing news that for many wealthy individuals taxation seems to be an optional extra, only served to underline his point.
I guess it really is true that life imitates art.
During my 18 months as business editor of The Yorkshire Post I have seen countless examples companies large and small doing things the right way.
Whether it is Gordons solicitors or Grant Thornton taking on apprentices direct from school to give youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds a leg-up into working for large companies, Harrogate Spring Water providing clean water pumps to some of the poorest regions on the planet, or Persimmon Homes providing pathways back in to the world of work for returning servicemen and women, there are legion examples in Yorkshire, and beyond, of corporations benefiting their communities and making a real difference that extends beyond EBITDA and employment.
We in the media like to make as much copy as we can out of the bad apples who harm the image of British business, not out of glee at their shaming, but because they are very much the exceptions when it comes to how companies are run and operated.
We know for sure that they do not stand for British business nor should they be held up as examples of how things operate in real life.
The expression “with great power comes great responsibility”, first coined by either the French philosopher Voltaire or cartoon character Spiderman depending upon who you believe, is unequivocally true and one that everyone should bear in mind on a day-to-day basis.
Business in this region has done so much good. Without the intervention of our region’s top business leaders I am confident the quest for devolved powers for the region would be nowhere.
Thanks to so many company bosses, the issue has never come off of the agenda. And when we do get a settlement that delivers on our collective potential we will owe them a huge debt of gratitude.
And if ever we needed an example of how to cope with challenge an adversity, we need only look to the example of Trevor Hicks to give us all the inspiration we need to never give up in the pursuit of what is right and necessary.