THE BLOG

Lord Mayor Alan Yarrow - Conference on Inclusive Capitalism 2015

06/26/2015 04:54 am ET | Updated Jun 25, 2016

The second 'Inclusive Capitalism' conference is taking place today in the Mansion House and the Guildhall. This building complex is a meeting place of nations - parts of which have presided over the development of London as an international financial centre for over six centuries. What better place to convene the world's leading businesses, academia and media commentators - to agree a mandate to build a better world. This is, after all, the true objective of responsible, inclusive capitalism. As Paul Polman, the Chief Executive of Unilever, said at the inaugural Inclusive Capitalism conference last year, "business cannot succeed in societies that fail."

As Lord Mayor, and as someone who has spent 40 years in capital markets and investment banking, I know the critical contribution of commerce - and wealth creators - to our communities. I chose to sum up this role, and responsibility, in my own Mayoral motto: "Creating Wealth, Giving Time and Supporting People." This is the purpose of the City of London.

The core of today's conference is really quite simple. The creation of wealth is a good thing. Wealth of time and resource - talent and opportunity. You can't use it, if you don't create it - and used responsibly, it can do a lot of good. In particular, in helping those who are less able to help themselves.

With nearly 400,000 workers in the City of London, and 1.7 million more connected to financial and professional services across Greater London and the UK, , it is important to harness the power of this immense force for good. Everyone who is part of our 'City Brand' has an important contribution to make to our society. It is interesting to note that almost all employees want to be part of a company which is achieving something 'hands-on' in their immediate community - and supporting the common good. This encompasses the full range of Corporate Community Involvement schemes - which mobilise an army of volunteers to serve as mentors, school governors, and leaders of community action projects. But there is much more to be done. Recent Business in the Community research shows that only 22 per cent of employees take pride in their current employer's behaviour towards society.

This is where the City of London can step in. In recent times, the 'City brand' -the beating heart of our nation's economy - has been chastised, criticised and denigrated in public. The 'banker', the term most commonly associated with the Square Mile, has been vying with the politician for the most despised job title in the land. That is why the City of London needs to take the lead, do be more to be more inclusive, and also be seen to be more inclusive.

Supporting a strong, healthy society is simply good business sense. That is why one my priorities as Lord Mayor is the City Giving Day, which will take place on 30 September. This event is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the value of the City by sharing examples of what we do, and who we do it with. I want to celebrate the immense contribution that City businesses and their employees are making to our communities - and I want to promote giving in all its forms. There are thousands upon thousands of lives which are being transformed through the direct involvement of City people. In the lead up to and on City Giving Day, I will champion companies and organisations, regardless of their size and sector, for the good work that they are achieving in so many creative ways, big and small, right across our community.

Today's conference gives me a platform to talk not only about City Giving Day, but also the City's reputation and what steps we're taking to improve not just our image, but the reality behind that image. There are fantastic stories to be told and real progress being made. We are turning round the oil tanker that is the reputation of the City of London, and we are all committed to continue improving gender representation at the top of the corporate tree. But there is no room for complacency. So much more still needs to be done on the diversity and inclusion agenda, especially when we talk about disability. At present, people with disabilities only make up a small percentage of the UK workforce. We are losing out on employees with the broadest range of skills and aptitudes - many of whom have something different, and innovative, to bring to the table.

To be perceived as 'responsible', a business must be authentic and have values that influence everything it does - from how it treats employees and uses natural resources to how it operates within the community and down their supply chain. I really hope today will serve as a springboard to take the debate further and help our generation to make our own contribution to global security, stability and success - providing as solid a footing for the future, as the architects of the medieval buildings in which we are meeting.