London is Now the ‘Soft Power’ Capital of the World

London From The Air
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 14: High rise office buildings are seen in the City of London from the air on June 14, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Photograph by Matt Cardy—Getty Images

London has been anointed the city with the highest “soft power,” beating out contenders like New York and Paris.

Its ability to create high-skill jobs and attract an international diverse group of business talent has led Deloitte to name the British city as the “soft power capital of the world.”

Looking at the educational and employment connections held by 50,000 business and public sector executives in seven global cities, Deloitte found that London had a widely varied population of workers from all over the world. The city’s executive alumni work in 134 countries and are represented by 95 nationalities, the consultancy found.

In comparison, the alumni of New York and Paris work in 120 and 108 countries respectively, and are drawn from 87 and 71 nationalities.

The term “soft power” was initially coined by Harvard professor Joseph Nye to describe the ability to persuade others without coercion. It has now been liberally used in foreign policy discussions to refer to a country’s influence in the world through methods of attraction and persuasion, rather than by force.

Deloitte also found that London had increased its number of high-skilled workers in recent years. In the past three years, an additional 235,000 jobs were created there, for a 16% jump to 1.7 million. Over the same time period, Paris, Sydney, Hong Kong and Singapore added a combined 78,000 high-skilled jobs, while New York lost around 5,000.

“Long seen as neck-and-neck with New York, recent developments suggest that by some key measures London might now be in a class of its own,” Angus Knowles-Cutler, London office senior partner at Deloitte, said in the press release.

Deloitte’s findings correspond to the Soft Power 30 index released last year that ranked the United Kingdom as the country with the greatest “soft power” in the world.

What all cities failed in, Deloitte noted, was in improving gender equality within its white-collar jobs. Just 10.5% of London’s senior executives are women, and the proportion of executive alumni who are female ranges from 12.3% in Sydney to 2.2% in Tokyo.

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