Responsible business isn’t a fad – it’s at the heart of how the City operates

Charles Bowman
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The City’s value to society must not go unnoticed (Source: Getty)

Being a responsible firm is now an essential part of everyday business for many companies, with this ethos engrained in the culture, purpose, and day-to-day activity, rather than as a separate initiative.

This is a great step forward from the picture 10 years ago – and progress is continuing.

Last week was a big week for the City of London Corporation, as we honoured responsible business with three major events.

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Thanks to the tireless efforts of the Lord Mayor’s Appeal team, we celebrated City Giving Day, when companies and staff across the City showcased their philanthropic and volunteering achievements and encouraged others to get involved.

I’m delighted to say that we had a record number of City businesses signed up to raise money on this hugely successful day.

We also, through the Lord Mayor’s Dragon Awards, celebrated business that have had a positive impact on society.

Firms championing diversity in the workplace, providing free legal aid to terrorism victims, and supporting unpublished writers from under-represented backgrounds were among this year’s winners of the capital’s top responsible business gongs.

The applicants supported nearly 1,800,000 people across the UK, helped create over 5,000 jobs, and provided over £15,300,000 in support for their local communities and enterprises.

The trend we saw this year was a continued shift in focus from community volunteering programmes towards workplace initiatives that benefit society and firms alike.

Many Dragon Awards applicants have been tackling the skills gap, supporting diversity in the workplace, and promoting social mobility through in-house responsible programmes and strong partnerships with charitable organisations.

Our week was enriched further still by the launch at the Mansion House of new City Corporation research which showed that the UK financial and professional service sector gave a record £534.5m to charitable causes, with 38 per cent of businesses giving in every UK region.

The research estimates that the sector contributed more than one million hours of volunteering.

However, it is not enough to say how much we give. We also need to think about the difference our giving makes, look at what we can do to make the most impact, and think of which areas we really need to target.

So we were also delighted to publish research commissioned from Corporate Citizenship into how to make corporate community investment as effective as possible.

This links closely to my Business of Trust programme, through which I have been speaking with firms about the importance of trust to their reputation and long-term success.

Strengthening their connections with society through thoughtful and impactful giving is a crucial way for business to ensure their sustainability. Business that are trusted by society are more likely to retain their workforce and attract more diverse talent. Millennials want to work for firms that are contributing to society and “giving back”.

Last week saw a fantastic string of events highlighting the great work of City firms. Acting as a more responsible business is a rising trend which should only increase.

The City’s value to society must not go unnoticed.

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