Businesses boosting the diversity of the City of London and providing training and work opportunities for young people have been recognised in the capital’s top responsible business gongs.
Six firms emerged triumphant in this year’s Lord Mayor’s Dragon Awards, held by the City of London Corporation to recognise companies which go the extra mile to benefit society.
The winners received their awards in a ceremony at the Mansion House, the Lord Mayor of the City of London’s official residence – the first in-person Dragons since before the pandemic.
Lord Mayor of the City of London Vincent Keaveny said: “The City, the capital and the UK as a whole will benefit greatly from creating a society where people are able to progress in their career based on merit rather than how they talk or which school they went to.
“It’s wonderful to see so many of this year’s winners taking positive action to tackle inequality and to give people the skills, the experience and the confidence they need to get on in life. What they are doing brings my Mayoral theme for the year – People and Purpose – vividly to life.
“All this year’s winners deserve a lot of credit for going above and beyond to benefit their staff, their communities and society as a whole.”
The Dragon Awards are organised by Heart of the City, the City Corporation-funded charity which supports hundreds of small and medium-sized enterprises with their responsible business programme.
Dragon Award winners:
Boosting Social Impact Award
Barrington Hibbert Associates – Social Impact Approach
The social impact approach of City-based recruitment firm Barrington Hibbert Associates was created to tackle a lack of opportunity for people from under-represented and low-income backgrounds trying to start a career in the City, starting by working with schools in low-income areas, all the way through to tackling recruitment, progression and retention.
CEO Michael Barrington Hibbert said: “We are dedicated to doing all we can to level the playing field and ensure that all have access to opportunities to excel personally and professionally.
“Our experiences of working with individuals and organisations within the City has reinforced the fact there is no shortage of ability, talent or commitment to succeed amongst underrepresented groups. There is however a real shortage of opportunity. We are committed to doing all we can to create access to these opportunities and are truly grateful for this recognition.”
Community Partners Award
Morgan Stanley and NSPCC – The Lighthouse
Financial services firm Morgan Stanley worked with the NSPCC and contributed funding for the three-year pilot of The Lighthouse’s multi-agency response to child sexual abuse. The process for children who reported sexual abuse was lengthy, children had to retell their story several times, and a conviction was rarely made. The Lighthouse has all the services a child needs after experiencing sexual abuse – doctors, social workers, the police, and crucially therapy – in one child-friendly place.
NSPCC Head of Partnerships Kirsty Lawson said: “We are delighted to have won the Community Partners Award for our work with Morgan Stanley. The Lighthouse is a life-changing service that enables young people and their families to rebuild their lives after experiencing trauma. So much hard work has gone into this project, it’s humbling to receive recognition of the commitment and dedication of everyone involved.”
Heart of the City Award
Signature Recruitment – Professional Mentoring Programme
The Spitalfields-based recruitment firm’s Professional Mentoring Programme supports students and graduates to prepare for and take their first steps into work. In partnership with the Universities of Westminster and East London, Signature provided free career mentoring to students via one-to-one and group mentoring.
Co-founder and Director Evelin Zauchner said: “Being recognised for going that extra mile is an absolute honour. It re-emphasises the hard work the team has put in to help young people in our local community. I’m very proud of what they have achieved and their efforts to grow the programme to reach more graduates in future.”
Inclusive Employment Award
David Miller Architects – Virtual Design Academy
Fitzrovia-based David Miller Architect’s Virtual Design Academy came about because the company was worried about the effects of young people not being able to access its office-based work experience during the pandemic. The online platform equips young people across the UK with digital design skills, helping to address the skills shortage and lack of diversity in architecture.
DMA Practice Director Fiona Clark said: “It is a tremendous honour to win this award and it will really spur us on to do even more. We strongly believe our team should reflect the clients and communities that we work with and we’re proud to have our Virtual Design Academy recognised for its impact in levelling the playing field and making the profession more inclusive.”
WR-AP – architectural practice giving young people a voice through regeneration projects
Teddington-based architects’ practice WR-AP collaborated with The Kingston Academy to mentor and coach 16 pupils through a live design process, showing how businesses can make a difference to young people by giving them a voice on local regeneration matters.
Director Sean Weston said: “We’re immensely proud to have won this award as it shines a light on SMEs having a social impact in their communities. When WR-AP was set up we wanted to make an impact and contribution in the community where the practice is based.
“This award gives us the validation that this founding principle was the correct one and we’re looking forward to making a greater social impact by rolling out the initiative to benefit young adults on other regeneration projects.”
Lord Mayor’s Award for Advancing Socio-economic Diversity in Business
Santander – Helping All People to Prosper
As part of a commitment to retaining exceptional colleagues, in 2020 Santander shifted its recruitment focus to developing internal talent. To support this, it created the internal Career Mobility Hub – a go-to place for all employee professional development, with access to the company’s internal job board, CV and interview preparation, and access to its one-to-one Career Coaching Service.
Santander HR Director for Culture & Capability Anouska Ramsay said: “‘Our Career Mobility Hub puts our people at the heart of their own career journey. It’s helping us develop the most talented and diverse people, as we aim to be a place all our people feel they belong and can succeed.
“We’re delighted to have won this award – it’s a celebration of the many Santander colleagues who have taken responsibility for their careers, and the teams that worked so hard to make it possible.”