COMPANIES and charities were honoured nationwide at Thursday’s ceremony at The breathtaking Midland Hotel, Manchester, rewarding the best of British diversity across all UK industries.
J.P. Morgan, Thomson Reuters and Action for Children were just a few of the brands supporting a skyfall of diverse talent – Diverse Companies, Employees of the Year, Best Diversity Resources, Head’s of Diversity, Outstanding Networks, Diversity Champions, Marketing Campaigns and Lifetime Achievers.
Hundreds of endorsements were received paying tribute to those from under-represented backgrounds who have dedicated their lives to enhancing the equality agenda.
The one-of-a-kind ceremony kicked off with an inspirational speech from Activist and Campaigner, Peter Tatchell, to let the audience know why the awards were special to him. Tatchell said “It is a huge honour to be here at the Excellence in Diversity Awards, which does such outstanding work to promote, empower, profile and acknowledge organisations that are pioneering amazing initiatives on surrounding inclusion.” He added that “Diversity is the motor of creativity, and a force for social progress”. With that positive message, to spread equality to people of all diverse backgrounds, the awards started flowing.
Founder Paul Sesay welcomed guests to the exciting ceremony and discussed the importance of inclusion, and what inspired him to create the ceremony. As passionately as ever, Sesay said “Our aim is to have innovative and truly diverse award ceremonies, celebrating employers and diversity champions that excel in the field of inclusion. It is through people like you, that change can happen.” The ceremony, without a doubt, delivered on that aspiration.
After decades of supporting BME and disabled people through her organisation the Equalities National Council, Julie Charles was awarded the Lifetime Achiever Award by 5×Paralympic gold medallist Jody Cundy.
A list of tremendous achievements were recognised by judges, including Julie’s incredible feat of pioneering the only advocacy and mentoring enterprise specifically targeting BME disabled people.
Another highlight of the evening came when Reverend Fred Annin was honoured for his charitable efforts with the Diversity Champion Award. Guests were informed of Fred’s courageous efforts campaigning against HIV stigma in UK and African churches.
Evenbreak founder, Jane Hatton was awarded the Diversity Champion Award in the Private Sector for changing the way disability is viewed in the workplace, whilst Cam Kinsella from Merlin Housing Society was recognised in the housing category.
Groundbreaking Network HSBC Balance scooped the Outstanding Diversity Network Award, and cutting edge organisation special iApps, took home the Best Diversity Resource Award for supplying innovative apps to disabled children.
Named 2015’s Employee of the Year, Damian Kitson from Asda was hailed a perfect example of its namesake, whilst, Sarah Churchman took the gong for Head of Diversity and Inclusion, for her remarkable work at PwC.
With support from numerous cheerleaders, Youth Media Agencies National Campaign #PressChange4Youth was honoured for calling for fair press of children & young people across the UK.
Asda, Gentoo, The Open University, St Giles Trust and Centro, were all awarded the Diverse Company of the Year Award in their respective sectors.
The prestigious black-tie event has attracted a growing list of top employers including ITV, PwC and The Co-operative Group. The night was wrapped up with a brilliant performance from The Voice UK winner 2014, Jermain Jackman who performed the pick of an impressive catalogue of songs. The Excellence in Diversity Awards was a real feel good event, where each nominee had earned their right to be in attendance for their fantastic work in their specific sector.
The full list of winners are as follows:
Diverse Company Charity: St Giles Trust
Highly Commended: Creative Support
Diverse Company Education: The Open University
Highly Commended: The University of Sheffield
Diverse Company Housing: Gentoo
Highly Commended: Great Places Housing Group
Diverse Company Private: Asda
Highly Commended: Microlink PC
Diverse Company Public: Centro
Highly Commended: Transport for London
Diversity Champion Charity: Rev. Fred Annin – ActionPlus Foundation,
Highly Commended: Angela Murphy – Tomorrow’s Women Wirral
Diversity Champion Education: Jiten Patel – The Open University
Highly Commended: Shaun Dellenty – Inclusion for All
Diversity Champion Housing: Cam Kinsella – Merlin Housing Society
Highly Commended: Bob Green – Stonewall Housing
Diversity Champion Private: Jane Hatton – Evenbreak
Highly Commended: Heather Melville – RBS
Diversity Champion Public: Lindsey Ambrose – St Andrew’s Healthcare
Highly Commended: Jacqui Gavin – a:gender
Head of Diversity & Inclusion: Sarah Churchman – PwC
Highly Commended: Ricky Somal – Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust
Employee of the Year: Damian Kitson – Asda
Highly Commended: Jeanette Gagg – UK HM Prison Service
Diverse Marketing Campaign of the Year: Youth Media Agency #PressChange4Youth
Highly Commended: BBC Local Apprenticeship Scheme
Best Diversity Resource: Special iApps
Highly Commended: English Federation of Disability Sport
Outstanding Diversity Network: HSBC – Balance Network
Highly Commended: The Cooperative Group – Respect Network
Lifetime Achiever: Julie Charles
Highly Commended: John Campbell