Over 40 Belfast Organisations Back 'Inclusive City' Initiative

More than forty organisations from across Belfast have backed an initiative designed to help create a 'better, more inclusive city'.

The organisations have signed up to the Belfast Business Promise, embarking on their journey to become accredited and share good practice.

The initiative was launched today, Thursday April 11 at Belfast City Hall, where participating organisations met to review progress made to date, and hear firsthand experience from Belfast Business Promise organisations including the Lighthouse Charity; and Belfast Harbour and the Department for the Economy, who both celebrated achieving membership accreditation.

The Belfast Business Promise is designed to cultivate an ethos of responsible and inclusive business practices: fair pay, good jobs, and secure contracts. It also aims to create a community of businesses and organisations who want to hold themselves to high standards by adopting business practices which deliver added value to society through employment, procurement and working in partnership with communities.

There are three membership tiers: Supporters, Members and Ambassadors.

Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Ryan Murphy explains: "The Belfast Business Promise is a key part of Belfast City Council's commitment to inclusive and sustainable economic growth which is at the core of the Belfast Agenda, the city's community plan. Organisationally, we're well on our journey to achieve Member status and Ambassador status by autumn 2024.

"We know that there's undeniable potential to deliver lasting positive social impact through a procurement policy which supports social enterprises, co-operatives and suppliers who have sound ethical practices.

"Belfast City Council became the first Real Living Wage council employer in February 2023. Our Social Value Procurement Policy also requires our contractors to pay the Real Living Wage to employees working on council contracts. We work with multiple contractors, delivering major investment projects across the city, so this initiative will have a meaningful impact on Belfast's workforce while so many navigate the cost-of-living crisis.
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"We've made substantial progress, but so much more remains to be done. The Business Promise provides a strong platform for us to continue to work together, to deliver the city's ambitions of becoming a truly inclusive and sustainable city."

Department for the Economy Permanent Secretary Ian Snowden said: "The Belfast Business Promise aligns extremely well with the Economy Minister's Economic Vision, which includes the goal of delivering good jobs for everyone.  By focusing on issues like the Real Living Wage, ending the use of zero-hour contracts, flexible working arrangements and reducing exploitative employment arrangements, the Promise can help achieve that goal.

"The Minister's Economic Vision also includes decarbonising the economy. Encouraging organisations to think about low or zero emissions technology, supporting the circular economy and creating climate action plans are just some of the areas where the Belfast Business Promise delivers forward thinking alignment with the Economic Vision.

"I would encourage businesses and other public sector bodies within the Belfast region to strongly consider this initiative."

Jenni Barkley, Communications and Community Engagement Manager, Belfast Harbour, added: "We've found the Belfast Business Promise accreditation process very beneficial in giving us a roadmap and advice on how we as employers can support a more inclusive and sustainable Belfast.

"We're committed to playing our part – and now we look forward to seeing many other businesses joining us so that together, we can help make Belfast a better place to live and work for all our citizens."

Belfast City Council engaged with over 130 individuals and 30 businesses to co-design the Belfast Business Promise, which consists of eight key pledges. The pilot programme launched last April, working with 2 28 organisations to test and refine the model.

Key city partners Diversity Mark, Equality Commission NI, Labour Relations Agency, Social Enterprise NI and NOW Group provided specialist technical support and refined the accreditation process. Translink NI has recently joined and will help shape the approach to the core pledge to 'Protect our environment'.

For more information and to register your interest, go to www.belfastcity.gov.uk/businesspromise

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