A note from Sarah: What does 2019 hold for responsible business?

It can seem as though the only thing we’re certain about in the year ahead is uncertainty. But as politics and the economy plunges on into the unknown, there are at least some strands of responsible business we can be fairly certain about seeing in 2019.

Environmental activism is growing – with employees and investors asking business to tackle the big issues of climate change, waste (plastics!) and air quality. Look out for changes across the city: City of London will introduce its ultra-low emissions zone in April, the government will ask businesses to disclose their emissions from April and City Hall is highlighting big businesses committed to zero carbon emissions. In 2019 Heart of the City will help members to take action in their own firms by publishing new practical resources for SMEs on reducing their environmental impact.

Making a difference on challenges like global warming though takes more than one single company’s actions, and the enthusiasm for collaboration is increasing. The UK government’s civil society strategy and the global Sustainable Development Goals call on business, government and the public to collaborate in tackling issues. We can expect to see increased  local collaboration across London with local giving schemes, young peoples’ foundations and business-to-business collaborations such as the Hackney East!  – a project funded and developed by Linklaters, Societe Generale, UBS and ELBA.

If Brexit does cut us off from EU employees businesses will need to do more to attract and retain the best staff. Having an attractive company culture is vital to achieving this. We expect forward-thinking London businesses to develop excellent workplace diversity and inclusion to ensure their pipeline for talent is as wide as it can be, and to invest in the strong values-driven workplace that employees find attractive. Look out for Heart of the City’s 2019 webinars on workplace wellbeing and diversity, our new resources to help our members review and articulate their values.

Finally, as many of us continue to be concerned about the impact of growing inequality in London and beyond, we will be promoting one positive step that all businesses can take to tackle this – by considering becoming accredited London Living Wage employers.

We are really looking forward to what the new year has in store!

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