John Lennon once said: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”. That famous quote is more apt now than ever.
The Mansion House should have been a hive of activity today, with preparations in full swing for the Lord Mayor’s Dragon Awards ceremony, which was supposed to take place tomorrow.
The awards, organised by the City of London Corporation every year to celebrate the best in responsible business across the capital, have, like so many other best laid plans, fallen victim to coronavirus.
However, I am pleased to announce that a revised schedule has been agreed and nominations open tomorrow (Tuesday 22 September) for what will now be the 2021 Dragon Awards, with a ceremony to be held in April.
The Dragons celebrate businesses of all sizes and sectors which go the extra mile to build strong community relationships, tackle disadvantage or inequality, promote inclusion or boost skills.
The pandemic has transformed the business landscape just as it has transformed all our daily lives. Therefore it would be remiss of us not to acknowledge the ways in which businesses have responded.
To that end, this year’s awards include a new category – the Lord Mayor’s Award for Innovation during Covid-19 – recognising companies which have found creative or imaginative ways to address issues created or exacerbated by the pandemic.
I know from talking to colleagues that companies across London have responded magnificently to help their staff or communities cope with the crisis, often working hand in glove with the voluntary sector.
Another new category this year is the Lord Mayor’s Special Award for Sustainable Investment, aimed at companies whose investment activities or advice have delivered competitive financial returns while also having a positive impact on society or the environment.
This year, the awards are being run for the first time by Heart of the City, a City Corporation-funded charity which supports hundreds of small and medium-sized enterprises with their responsible business programmes.
It is a perfect fit and I am sure the involvement of an organisation with such a fantastic track record in this area will build on the work of many people over many years which has earned the Dragons the deserved title of London’s top responsible business gongs.
In the 33 years they have been running, applicants have reached over 10m people, mobilised 200,000 business volunteers and provided £250m in donations and in-kind support.
The awards have both reflected and helped to drive a growing awareness of the benefits of responsible business schemes for companies, their employees and the communities they support.
The format of April’s awards ceremony is dependent on how the pandemic develops and what protective measures are in place at the time, but it will happen.
I am really looking forward to celebrating and shining a light on the innovative, creative and practical solutions businesses across London have employed to respond to the capital’s social issues at a time of unprecedented crisis.
Nominations open tomorrow at www.dragonawards.org.uk
William Russell is Lord Mayor of London.