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York first city in the UK to sign up to Charter - putting people and planet at the heart of business

Posted on 28 June 2021

York has become the first city in the UK to sign up to the Good Business Charter - in a pioneering initiative spearheaded by entrepreneur Julian Richer and backed by the University of York.

GBC York is backed by the City of York Council. Pic credit: Gerardo Jaconelli

The Good Business Charter was developed in partnership with the Confederation of British Industry, the Trades Union Congress and Federation of Small Businesses and promotes responsible behaviour through ten key components, including employee well-being, diversity and inclusion, environmental responsibility and ethical sourcing.

The University of York became the first University to join the GBC in February this year. 

Ethical

Professor Kiran Trehan, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Partnership and Engagement, said:  “We are backing this 100%. Universities are more than educators and this charter underpins the role we play in supporting a fairer society, ethical leadership and a more inclusive and sustainable economy.” 

“I truly hope that other organisations will be inspired to work in partnership to create more Good Business Cities and that we will continue to learn from one another.".

GBC York is backed by the City of York Council which has adopted it as part of its wider plans for its economic strategy.

Cllr Keith Aspden, City of York Council said: “The Good Business Charter will help us ensure that York’s residents have access to the best working conditions, with fairness, representation, diversity and a shared commitment to our environmental responsibilities at the core of our employment standards.

“While it is important that the City of York Council shows its support for the GBC, I am delighted that some of our city’s most prominent employers have also chosen to do so, and look forward to more joining them. Working together, as the first Good Business Charter city, will help us to create a better, fairer and more sustainable future for our community.

“York has always been a pioneering city, and it is great that we are first in the UK to sign up to such an important initiative.”

Inclusive

Organisers say the need for GBC York has never been more important as the city, which plays host to a significant tourism and hospitality sector, continues its recovery from the impact of the pandemic and embarks on the need for inclusive economic growth.

Key organisations in the city who have signed up to the charter include the City of York Council, the University of York, Aviva, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. It is hoped other cities across the country will follow York’s example and champion signing up to the Charter. 

Mr Richer, who set up and runs the UK’s largest hi-fi retailer, Richer Sounds, wrote The Ethical Capitalist, and is the founder of the Good Business Charter said: “This is such an important moment for York – and I am so pleased to see my home city be the first to embrace the ten components of the Good Business Charter. 

“We are excited to see the impact it brings across the city, especially for employees, consumers, visitors and investors, and the ripple effect that can have for the region and nation.

“There are many thinkers in the area of responsible capitalism but York is taking hold of something really practical to roll out and I am convinced it will make the city even more attractive as a place to live and work.”

Proud

York-based charity The Joseph Rowntree Foundation revealed that in 2019/20 (pre-pandemic) 58% of people living in poverty were also part of a working family, something the Good Business Charter seeks to address through its commitment to real living wage and a fair approach to zero hours contracts.

Paul Kissack, Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, said: “It is exciting to see York leading the way in championing the Good Business Charter. We are proud to be able to sign up to this new charter as we know all employers have a key role to play in loosening the grip of poverty on our society. 

"It is deeply concerning that for millions of people across the UK work is not currently providing a reliable route out of poverty. Good work can help to establish the firm foundations families need to achieve a decent quality of life. The ongoing pandemic has shown us what we are capable of achieving when we rally together around a shared purpose. We hope others in York, and around the whole country, sign up to the Good Business Charter which has the potential to both improve the way we do business and improve the lives of many.”

Nationally

Simon Morritt, Chief Executive, York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I am delighted that we are the first NHS trust nationally to be recognised and accredited by the Good Business Charter, which demonstrates the values that we believe in and our commitment to responsible and good business practices.” 

Aviva, a key private sector employer in York, was awarded GBC accreditation in April 2021. 

Will McDonald, Aviva’s Public Policy and Sustainability Director (job share) said “Trusted, independent accreditations like the Good Business Charter are an important way to demonstrate our commitment to making a positive contribution to our customers, colleagues, communities and the planet. As a large employer in York, we’re delighted to see the city become the first in the UK to sign up to the Charter and I’d encourage other cities to consider doing the same.”

 

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