A new initiative to promote Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to businesses in Birmingham has been launched with the city becoming the first in the UK to launch CSR City.

In its first year it will focus on co-ordinating business support for under-performing schools. An outline of the proposed activities was delivered to patron companies of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce at a lunch hosted by lawyers Pinsent Masons.

Among the speakers was Sir Mike Tomlinson, a former chief inspector of schools who has been appointed education commissioner for Birmingham, a role created after a probe into the anonymous "Trojan Horse" letter.

He is working with the city council to oversee improvements in standards. The post was created in response to Peter Clarke's report which found evidence of an "aggressive Islamist ethos" in some city schools.

Sir Mike, a former government adviser who first entered the education profession in 1965, has assumed the role for 12 months.  He is keen to see more school governors recruited from business, and this is a key priority for CSR City, which is working with the City Council and the National Governors Association, to achieve this. 

Greg Lowson, president of Birmingham Chamber and head of Pinsent Masons in Birmingham who has led the creation of CSR City, explained that initiative was a partnership between Birmingham City Council, Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local enterprise Partnership and Greater Birmingham Chambers of commerce.

He said CSR City would be launched formally in September and a new partnership was being formed with the Ahead Partnership, founded in Leeds by chief executive Stephanie Burras, a former Pinsent Masons employee.

Mr Lowson added: “The initial focus will be on education and improving the delivery of CSR to Birmingham's most challenged schools.   The CSR City programme will then focus on the other principal areas of social need - employment, crime and safety, health and wellbeing and housing.

“We believe Birmingham’s schools, employers and employees will benefit from their needs being co-ordinated. 

Providers of CSR should see high levels of employee engagement as well as increased employee satisfaction and retention rates.”

Ms Burras said: “The 'Ahead Partnership' acts as a catalyst to improve society and the economy.

Our innovative solutions include our programme Make the Grade which seeks to improve educational outcomes through partnerships with business. Make the Grade is expanding and is now supported by the Big Lottery Fund.”