YORK businesses which have pledged to go above and beyond will be recognised at a celebration of social responsibility.

West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce has relaunched its Raising the Bar (businesses acting responsibly) event to reward businesses from York, Bradford and Leeds who have committed to making ethical, environmental and social changes.

In recognition of the challenges of Covid, the chamber this year launched its Make a Pledge to Make a Difference campaign to encourage businesses to pledge their social responsibility targets.

These include activities to benefit the community, environment, economy, employees and education and are achievable regardless of restrictions.

Chamber Chief Executive Sandy Needham said: “Despite the enormous challenges of Covid, we saw many members working hard to support their communities, their staff and understanding more about how their working practices could protect the environment.

“Although formal social responsibility programmes may have been paused, we’re seeing many inspiring examples of businesses going above and beyond in the most testing of times.

“We knew our Raising the Bar programme had a role in recognising these efforts and so launched the Make a Pledge to Make a Difference campaign to encourage businesses to say their commitments out loud and share their experiences to gently ease people back into formalising and celebrating great work.”

Sponsors HSBC UK York & Harrogate Local Market have pledged to deliver free financially-focussed educational support to local pupils.

Richard Ellis, local director, said: “York and Harrogate Local Market of HSBC have been proud to deliver financial education lessons to schools that are local to our branches across the area.

“We have contacted a number of local schools during the pandemic to offer their pupils lessons on the value of money, budgeting, different types of financial products and the impact of fraud.

“We have now completed 17 lessons to over 680 pupils over Zoom and the feedback has been quite simply fantastic. This will now be part of our business as usual in 2022, as we look to educate and support the adults of the future.”

York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce president Laurence Beardmore said: “The pledges campaign is helping to get social responsibility back into York business conversations and we are delighted that many local businesses, like HSBC, have already made a pledge.

“While we won’t be announcing winners on November 10, we will be rewarding our Raising the Bar stars, those businesses which show effort, creativity, clear process and a commitment to making positive change happen.”

Raising the Bar is in its sixth year and has historically helped businesses accrue more than 20,000 hours in donated time and more than £150K in funds raised.

Raising the Bar and Make a Pledge are available to all businesses, irrespective of Chamber membership.

The campaign includes a downloadable tool kit from the Raising the Bar website. All pledges submitted on the website will be considered for formal recognition by a panel of judges who will conduct telephone interviews with the businesses involved.

Questions will focus on the size of the business, its pledge processes, progress made and evidence of wider company and team support.

The Chamber will recognise those with clear benchmarks in place to ensure their pledges prompt change.

Visit www.raising-the-bar.org.uk or email info@raising-the-bar.org.uk.for details.