East Midlands Chamber has secured one of the most significant accolades in business after being named the UK Chamber of the Year.
The chamber of commerce for Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire was recognised for supporting businesses to engage with the environmental, social and governance (ESG) agenda as it took the top prize at the British of Chamber of Commerce’s (BCC) annual Chamber Business Awards, sponsored by Quest. There are 53 accredited chambers of commerce in the UK.
Judges said East Midlands Chamber succeeded in striking a good geographical balance across its membership base, serving more than 4,000 businesses across the three counties. Its strength in the areas of diversity and environmental sustainability also stood out as particularly impressive.
East Midlands Chamber chief executive Scott Knowles said: “We are delighted to receive such recognition and this award is testament to the hard work of the whole Chamber team over the past few years in supporting businesses through one of the most challenging periods in memory.
“We have always sought to provide a comprehensive offer in supporting our members through whatever the world throws at us. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we pivoted our service online with a focus on business resilience and took advantage of opportunities such as the Kickstart Scheme to become the UK’s biggest gateway provider.
“This approach has continued to evolve within a hybrid delivery model as we seek to help guide members through the important business issues of today and tomorrow – including the rapidly-growing ESG agenda, which comprises a commitment to net zero, a diverse and inclusive workforce, and building relationships with communities.
“As new opportunities come forward, we will continue to be at the forefront in ensuring our members are at the leading edge of new business trends, while flying the flag for the East Midlands in order to help attract new investment and grow our region’s economy.”
How East Midlands Chamber has led the way in business support
The Chamber’s achievements in recent years have included:
- Providing a £100,000 membership relief fund during the pandemic and helping 982 businesses to access Covid-19 funds valued at £1.4m
- Supporting 902 businesses to fill 2,093 placements in the Kickstart Scheme, which created work placements for 16 to 24-year-olds, with 81% of participants securing a job, or returning to further or higher education
- Leading a Digital High Street project supporting 322 retailers to improve their digital offering
- Supporting 700 exporters and 200 importers annually via the international trade service
- Establishing a Sustainable East Midlands initiative to collate practical advice that supports members on their net zero journey, holding 26 events that attracted more than 1,000 delegates in 2021/22
- Launching a free ESG toolkit in partnership with RSM UK for members
- Being an exemplar to businesses in developing a diverse and inclusive workforce by achieving Disability Confident Leader status, leading a prison employment advisory board, signing a menopause workplace pledge and “Time to Change” pledge, and supporting the Midlands Mental Health Productivity Pilot.
The Chamber Business Awards, now in its 19th year, is one of the showpieces of the business calendar, highlighting the role that chambers of commerce play in assisting firms to deliver growth and prosperity for the UK and local communities.
The awards provide an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the achievements of the Chamber Network, and the vital support chambers provide to businesses.
Commitment to net zero ambitions and Kickstart Scheme success recognised by BCC
Sarah Howard, chair of the BCC, said: “The East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) is an extremely worthy winner of this award.
“The Chamber’s commitment to sustainability and net zero ambitions is paving the way for other chambers to follow in the fight against the climate crisis.
“Running a successful and vibrant chamber of commerce, with its members’ interests at the core, is no easy task and I want to congratulate all members of the East Midlands Chamber team for their hard work and dedication.”
Steve Charles, head of business partnerships at Quest added: “Congratulations to East Midlands Chamber, a worthy winner of the Chamber of the Year award.
“A strong financial performance enabled it to offer a wide range of support to members including Kickstart, in particular during the pandemic.
“It has led the way on helping members build a diverse and inclusive workforce, as well as meeting their net zero targets. It also has an exciting investment strategy to help it offer even more support to members in the future. Well done.”
To find out about how East Midlands Chamber can support businesses, visit our support and advice pages or call 0333 320 0333.