Monday 30 September 2019 4:01 am

The Dragon Awards celebrate the London firms working towards a fairer society

As well as being the top hub for finance, London is also fast becoming known as a leading centre for responsible business and philanthropy.

I strongly believe that we must shape the society in which we want to live, and not wait for it to shape us. Last week at the Mansion House, we celebrated the companies playing a leading role in doing just that, with the Lord Mayor’s Dragon Awards – the capital’s top responsible business gongs.

We recognised the firms that are redefining what it will mean to be a business in tomorrow’s world. These companies are shaping the future and putting innovation, inclusion and social responsibility at the very heart of their business.

The Awards, run by the City of London Corporation, recognise firms of all sizes and from all sectors that are tackling social problems in London and the UK. This year’s winners included firms boosting the social mobility in Britain and helping LGBT+ refugees to build a better future.

I am hugely impressed with the dynamic businesses which are thinking outside-the-box, and using their resources to change people’s lives for the better.

The Innovation Award, for example, went to Weil, Gotshal & Manges for its “Micro Rainbow” scheme. 

The legal firm teamed up with the charity Micro Rainbow to open the UK’s first ever safe-house for LGBT+ refugees and asylum seekers. The initiative involves volunteer work, financial support and pro- bono legal advice.

Since 2017, the partnership has supported 37 homeless LGBT+ asylum seekers into safe housing. It is a truly amazing project.

And there were many others. Collectively, this year’s Dragon Awards applicants invested a staggering £32m in their communities. Over 50,000 business volunteers have been mobilised – empowered by their employers to find their passion, develop their skills, and make a difference to society.

There is so much outstanding work being done by organisations to tackle social issues, which often goes unnoticed. That’s why it is so important for us to recognise it.

On the very same day, City workers across the Square Mile took part in City Giving Day. Run by the Lord Mayor’s Appeal, this day is a chance for firms in the Square Mile and beyond to show their support for – and celebrate their own – philanthropic work, by wearing red and taking part in fundraising events.

We want to see City business practices change for the better and public perception of the City to improve. That is why we also fund Heart of the City, which supports SMEs with their responsible business programmes.

The charity has just opened applications for its 2020 foundation programme. It is looking for London’s SMEs to join and learn how their businesses can make a positive impact on people, places and the planet.

Responsible business is about more than local community engagement. It is also about bringing benefits to workforces and creating a better and fairer society.

And it is a two-way street. Firms that embrace these values attract highly motivated employees, improve their reputations and boost staff satisfaction – a win-win for us all.

Main image credit: Getty

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