Damian Kitson: Employee of the Year

Damian KitsonWe caught up with Damian Kitson, Head of Record to Report at ASDA to catch his thoughts on winning The Employee of The Year Award at The Excellence in Diversity Awards 2015. Here’s what Damian had to say:

When my name was read out on the evening I was shocked and a little scared to have to go up on stage in front of so many fantastic ambassadors. It was a huge honour to win the award, particularly in Mental Health awareness week. 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.

How did you feel about the other shortlisted nominees within your category?

The nominees have achieved some remarkable things. To be considered alongside individuals who have been leading on this subject for over 25 years is very special.

The passion for fairness and equality shines through in all the nominations. Work in the private, public and community sectors just shows that this subject is now far reaching and creating real momentum.

I would like to congratulate all the nominees and thank them for their continued efforts on treating difference fairly. Together we can make a real difference.

Where are you going to go from here with your work?

IMG_2119This 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.

2015 will see our Mental Wellbeing campaign alongside charity SANE, extend across our organisation. We will continue to reach out to build our support for colleagues who suffer in silence due to the stigma of Mental Illness. This is not a specific issue to Asda, but one which is a challenge for society. If as an organisation we lead on this agenda and work to break down the stigma, it will make a huge difference.

What does Diversity & Inclusion mean to you?

I like to look at this very simply. If we all appreciate our individual uniqueness and at the same time allow and appreciate the difference of others, we will create an environment for people to be at their best.

The core value of fairness, if consistently applied, results in inclusion.

Where does this rank within your Diversity & Inclusion achievements?

In the words of Tina Turner, “Simply the Best”. Seriously, I have been lucky to work with people who give up their time to make a huge difference for others. I can honestly say that I haven’t achieved anything by myself, ever. As such, I accepted this award on behalf of the great work the Disability Steering group has delivered in Asda. I am just privileged to be able to chair this forum and guide a fantastic group of colleagues.

What were yours and your colleague’s thoughts on the awards?

IMG_2186The awards were a great opportunity to celebrate the work being done by organisations and individuals across the diversity spectrum. My colleagues who attended were buzzing to be part of the evening and I know have continued to share the experience back in the office.

What has been amazing is the number of people who have congratulated me and Asda. Colleagues that I worked with many years ago have seen the media feeds and contacted me to congratulate and celebrate the award.