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Archbishop's Fairness Call to Business Leaders

John Lister, Denise Howard, the Archbishop of York, Fairness Commission Chair Ruth Redfern and Stephen Kennedy at Ethics Event

Tuesday 24th July 2012

The Archbishop of York and sponsor of the York Fairness Commission, Dr John Sentamu, called on York’s business leaders to have fairness at the heart of their business planning and practice last night at Bishopthorpe Palace.

At the Ethics in Business reception, Dr Sentamu told a group of York’s business leaders that he recognises the difficult choices they are facing: ‘Balancing the success or survival of a company with the welfare of the people involved can be a painful business. There are no simple answers.  In the current economic and financial crisis these decisions are critical to the whole community. We judge the health of a society by how it treats the poor and vulnerable. Businesses have a duty to engage with their communities and play their part in tackling inequality by having truly fair recruitment and reward policies.’


Yorkshire businesswoman and entrepreneur, Denise Howard OBE, Director Welcometraining Ltd, speaking on Ethics in Business said: ‘I am passionate about helping businesses succeed and communities thrive by helping them to provide a system of work in which ordinary people can fly. Bonuses and commissions in businesses large and small distort the work system and undermine the motivation to serve customers. Optimise the system and everyone benefits.’


John Lister Financial Director at aviva plc and a member of the York Fairness Commission challenged the York business community to adopt the Commission’s 10 Fairness Principles as part of their ambitions for business excellence.


Businesses present responded positively to the Fairness Commission’s principles and welcomed particularly the move to make York a Living Wage city.


Peter Kay, Chair of the York Economic Partnership said: “Businesses in York have coped incredibly well during the recession and have been using imaginative approaches to retain capacity including job sharing, reduced hours and acceptance of reduced profit by business owners. However, I do not believe that this is at the expense of the principles that the Fairness Commission is promoting. Clearly it is “Adopting a long term view considering long term impacts as well as short term savings” and “Making budget decisions based on evidence, values and needs, not by applying flat rate percentage cuts or favouring services that have always been provided”. But I believe York’s business community have also been supporting and will continue to support the wider principles which the Fairness Commission are promoting.”


York Fairness Commission is due to publish its final report at an event at Bishopthorpe Palace on 27th September.  The report is expected to include hard-hitting demands of the council and other public sector bodies as well as the voluntary and community sector and the business community.


‘Whilst York is the fairest city in the region we still live in a country that is profoundly unfair and where poverty and great wealth sit side by side’ said Ruth Redfern Chair of the commission. ‘I am delighted that the business community inn York is ready to sign up to our Fairness Principles and play their part.’ 


The Commission’s principles are based on the concept that a more equal society is better for everyone and its previous budget recommendations to the council attempted to share the burden by protecting the most vulnerable whilst asking a little more of the better off.


A copy of the independent York Fairness Commission’s interim report and details of all their previous recommendations to City of York Council are available on




The York Fairness Commission


The ten fairness principles are:


  1. Make reducing inequalities a prime focus in policy and decision making
  2. Support and empower the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups
  3. Adopt a long term view considering long term impacts as well as short term savings
  4. Listen and Engage so as to make budget decisions in a way that is open, transparent and informed by York’s people
  5. Generate new income to reduce the scale and depth of the cuts needed to balance the budget
  6. Make budget decisions based on evidence, values and needs, not by applying flat rate percentage cuts or favouring services that have always been provided
  7. Take into account wider factors that affect inequalities in York
  8. Target investments and services geographically where necessary to reduce inequalities and improve life chances in the most disadvantaged areas
  9. Promote/ prioritise economic growth that maximises benefits to people
  10. Ensure a ‘best in class’ Council that delivers services efficiently and effectively and acts as an influential role model in tackling inequalities


The latest studies show that the City of York has higher than average levels of employment and relatively high income levels. Crime rates and levels of deprivation are also shown to be reducing and there is a good general level of health.


Eight areas of the city are among the 20% most deprived areas in the UK.  There are still individuals, groups and neighbourhoods where people are excluded from a good quality of life and are disadvantaged for reasons such as low income, poor health and crime.

The York Fairness Commission is an independent body set up by the City of York Council to advise the authority on how to address these issues of deprivation, exclusion and inequality in the city.


The members of the Fairness Commission include:

The Sponsor:            Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York

The Chair:                 Ruth Redfern, Assistant Chief Executive of Yorkshire Forward

The Commissioners:

• John Lister, Finance Director, Aviva Life UK 

• John Kennedy, Director of Care services,

 Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust

• Richard Wilkinson, Professor Emeritus of Social Epidemiology,

 University of Nottingham Medical School 

• Dr Kate Pickett, Professor of Epidemiology, University of York

 Dept of Health Sciences 

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