Living Our Values

Our approach to responsible business


At Heart of the City, we support businesses to be a force for good by helping them to make responsible business a meaningful part of their work. But we don’t just support others, we also take every opportunity to learn and develop our own approach. This helps us provide the best support possible for our SME members, be a great employer, reduce our environmental impact and support our local communities.

Our Director has overall responsibility for our responsible business approach, and other team members lead on our different areas of focus. We know that there’s always more that we can do to better support our people, environment and communities and we’re on a continuous learning journey to see how we can improve. We’ll share this journey here and if you have any suggestions, we’re always eager to hear fresh ideas, so please get in touch!

Our People

Flexible working

As with most organisations, our people are our biggest strength, so we’re keen to create an inclusive and flexible working environment that works for everyone. This became increasingly important as we transitioned to hybrid working and in March 2022, we developed a team charter to make sure flexible and hybrid working works for everyone. We review the team charter every year, to check that it still works for all team members.


Through our support from the City of London Corporation we’re fortunate to have access to great mental health support, including Mental Health First Aiders, an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) and lots of learning and development opportunities focussing on mental health and wellbeing.

As a team, we share our wellbeing scores at weekly team meetings as a way to check in on each other, and twice a year we have a session on mental health at our awaydays. We also encourage people to work on their own wellbeing action plans.


Making our content accessible to as many SMEs as possible has always been a core part of our work. As we believe all businesses can be a force for good, we don’t want cost to be a barrier. Thanks to our funders we can offer many fully funded places on our programmes and keep other memberships costs low. We also provide free online resources and regularly host free online learning events.

We’re also taking action to increase the inclusivity and accessibility of our programme content, such as developing more audio versions of our learning materials, more captioning and an imagery review.

Social justice

As founding members of the Social Justice Charter, we’re committed to supporting an equal distribution of power and access to all our stakeholders, and that our stakeholders’ voices are at the heart of our decision making. Our stakeholders include:

  • The SMEs on our programmes, who we aim to support and serve
  • Our trustees, council and funders, who we’re accountable to
  • Our wider network of ambassador businesses and partners, who support the delivery of our programmes
  • Heart of the City employees, who are key to making it all happen

To better understand the different needs of our stakeholders, we run regular surveys to better understand their priorities and inform our next steps. We also hold regular focus groups and 1:1 sessions with our SME members.

Diversity & Governance

Through the City of London Corporation, we have access to staff networks, including the Women’s Inclusive Network, the City Pride LGBT+ Network, the CLEAR Network (City of London Ethnicity and Race) and many more. Our board of trustees is over 50% female, but we recognise that we have more to do to encourage and support diversity within our own team, board of trustees and council. To do this we continuously review our own recruitment practices and recruit our trustees through Nurole to make sure we have an open and inclusive process.

We make sure that our stakeholders are embedded in our governance structures. Funders, ambassadors and SMEs are represented on our trustee board and council – at least two spaces are filled by people who work in an SME, one of which is a former member.

Our programme content is guided by our Board Advisory Panel, which is made up of CSR and sustainability experts from our ambassadors and at least two of these people are former programme members.

Our Environment

Net zero

At Heart of the City we recognise our responsibility to help protect the planet, and we’ve made a commitment to continually improve our environmental performance and be transparent in our learning and journey to reach net zero by 2040.

We support the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels.

Over the past two years, we’ve been busy supporting SMEs on their journey to net zero and now it’s our turn. By Summer 2024, we’ll be sharing our own environmental policy, carbon footprint and action plan to reach net zero by 2040.

Beyond reducing our own carbon footprint and helping SMEs on our programmes to do the same, we also want to support as many SMEs as possible on their net zero journeys through our free climate action toolkit.

Green operations

We continue with the good practice we’ve adopted over the years. We walk to meetings where possible and use public transport where not, reduce waste at events and host most of our events online to prevent attendee travelling.

We also continue to work closely with our landlord and key funder, the City of London Corporation, to improve operational efficiency and our Net Zero Programme Manager regularly contributes to their Climate Action Strategy stakeholder meetings.

Supply chain

We currently work with a minimal supply chain, but we aim to improve our knowledge of our suppliers’ approach to responsible business and commitment to working towards net zero.

Our Communities


We encourage our team to pursue their own interests and passions, giving them two days of paid volunteer leave each year to support the causes close to their hearts. We actively encourage people to use these days, as we know first-hand that volunteering can provide great opportunities for employee development and engagement.

We also encourage further volunteering as a team. Most recently we’ve spent volunteer days with Trees for Cities and BIG Alliance.

Our aim is for 100% of our team to take some time every year to support a charity or community organisation during working time.

Supporting charities

Supporting charities and community organisations within our network is a key part of our work at Heart of the City. We run regular workshops for small charities funded by City Bridge Trust, covering topics such as net zero, mental health and resilience. We also support the London Giving schemes where possible, most recently with a workshop on building impactful partnerships with SMEs.

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