A Time to Celebrate Diversity

Diversity and inclusion is what drives innovation and change within many companies; and one award ceremony that rewards companies for this is The Excellence in Diversity Awards.


Nominations are open once again after the roaring success of this year’s ceremony, highlighting diverse employers that have an ethos of inclusion, significantly at senior and board room level.

Throughout the year, there are individuals who work relentlessly, often without thanks and on small budgets, to put diversity at the heart of everything they do. From raising awareness of Mental health issues, developing BME community driven strategies, and addressing gender imbalances in today’s workplace, EiDA shortlisted nominees really are in a league of their own.

With a melting pot of flavours, Britain is home to countless individuals who have shown strength in the face of adversity, determination against all odds, and have come out fighting for those in society who need our help and support.

Shortlisted nominees and winners ranged from Educational institutes and Housing organisations, right through to Police Forces and Charities. HSBC Balance Network, The Open University, Gentoo and Centro were amongst those who accepted accolades this year for their phenomenal accomplishments in the diversity arena. 

IMG_2186Asda’s very own Damian Kitson, recipient of the 2015 Employee of the Year Award, recently reflected on his achievements. “I have been open about suffering from Mental Illness earlier in my career and to be able to share the evening with those colleagues, friends and my wife who supported me in getting back to my best, was truly special. It will be an evening I will never forget”.

An emotional Damian was applauded at the ceremony for helping to remove the public stigma of mental health. “This award has done two things. It has given me the confidence to know what we are doing is right. It has also been a positive momentum within Asda and will be a real spring board to further drive the difference we are making in the space of Disability, both visible and invisible.”

Sarah Churchman was honoured with the Head of Diversity and Inclusion Award for her remarkable work at PwC. 14 years ago, Sarah, recognising the need for PwC to focus on diversity and inclusion, established the first D&I team from scratch and has developed it into its current format of a team of  6 covering the UK. Hailed for tirelessly driving and shaping the diversity and inclusion agenda at PwC, Sarah has fundamentally shifted the firms focus from equality to diversity to inclusion.

Under Sarah’s leadership, PwC has implemented a series of activities, including sponsorship of Breakthrough – their organisational development programme supporting talented women, establishing PwC’s Diversity Council of senior partners, and the introduction of diversity and bias awareness training.

HSBC’s Balance Network accepted the diversity honour for the Outstanding Diversity Network Award, commended for driving HSBC’s diversity & inclusion aim to increase senior female representation.

Their vision to support the recruitment, development, advancement and engagement of a gender-balanced workforce within HSBC has been exemplary. The impact and rapid growth of Balance lead to a network boasting 2,073 members in the UK, and 30 branches worldwide.

Balance was applauded at the ceremony for being ‘different’. When defining and designing Balance and how it was intended to make a difference, it was strongly felt that traditional “women’s networks” were not necessarily the right approach to impact gender diversity, and that to make a difference, both men and women had to be included from the start.

Balance’s pioneering approach set out to impact gender diversity, appealing to and including both men and women equally. This has had the effect of generating interest and support from key groups of stakeholders that are often disenfranchised with a traditional women’s network.

Layla Mullins, Co-Chair of HSBC Balance UK, said “Having gone from one small branch in 2010 to over 30 worldwide, we have made a huge advancement, making a difference to the gender diversity agenda across our global business.

This award is one of our top achievements and I think it’s a great help to emphasise the importance of the work our committee of volunteers does. It has given us some genuine leverage to be at the table for some really important conversations. It has definitely lifted up our profile”.

In a fractured society, during troubled times and with austerity biting us from behind, the need for diverse practice becomes ever more important. The law defines a host of so called protected characteristics. But, ultimately, inclusion affects us all. By excluding people because of their identity or background we lose skills. We lose talent. And we lose productivity and profit.

Mark Shrimpton, Equality Advisor for Disability Rights UK and Disability Member of the First-tier Tribunal at UK Ministry of Justice, added “Significant numbers of firms are practising inclusion as a routine event and are reaping the rewards. They are leaders in their field – not the diversity pitch, but the business stadia in which they play, and win. They are capturing the diverse talents of the wonderful population of Great Britain and becoming more competitive as a result. The EiDA’s are a supreme opportunity to celebrate and market this work. I urge you nominate your EiDA champions and promote your excellence.”

Judges also include equality activists such as Andy Woodfield, Partner at PwC, and Dianah Worman, CIPD’s Diversity Champion.

Nominations have re-opened for the 2016 ceremony, due to be held on 12th May, at The Queens Hotel, Leeds. Award categories include Diverse Company, Diversity Champion, Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Employee of the Year, Outstanding Diversity Network, Best Diversity Resource, Marketing Campaign of the Year, and Lifetime Achiever.

To nominate please click here