Deadline Looms For Equality & Diversity Awards

Employers across Northern Ireland are being encouraged to showcase their commitment to diversity and enter the Northern Ireland Equality and Diversity Awards 2020 before the application deadline of Friday 06 December.

Now in their fourth year, the awards give employers a chance to recognise those who advocate for and drive diversity within their organisations.

All organisations and individuals across the public, private and third sectors are eligible.

The awards are organised by Antrim-based Legal Island, an award-winning, workplace compliance company which helps HR professionals understand employment law and how it applies to their workplace.

The evening, scheduled for April 2020, will showcase the advantages of equality and diversity to employers and the wider community, celebrating success stories of individuals, groups and employers. The event is sponsored by Jones Cassidy Brett Solicitors and AIB (NI) and supported by Diversity NI.

Award categories include Best Employer for Equality & Diversity in NI; Best Gender Initiative; Best LGBT Initiative; Best Disability Initiative; Best Race Initiative; Individual Diversity Champion and two new categories for 2020, Best First Initiative; and Best Age Initiative.

Barry Phillips, Chair of Legal Island, believes it's important for companies to share best practice relating to diversity. He explained: "We are delighted to see the number of award entries growing significantly year on year. It has been truly inspiring to find out about the programmes and initiatives that individuals and organisations are delivering to promote diversity. The awards not only provide a channel for recognising the fantastic work that companies across Northern Ireland are doing in the area of diversity, equality and inclusion, but they also showcase it and help to share best practice and inspire others."

Last year's winning organisations, including Action For Children, Sensata, Gilbert-Ash, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast Health & Social Care Trust and Community Restorative Justice Ireland, Newry/Armagh were recognised for pioneering new standards of equality and diversity practices and driving the diversity agenda in Northern Ireland.

Explaining why organisations should apply, Mr Phillips continued: "There are of course basic legal requirements associated with diversity, but by really embracing and valuing diversity, businesses and organisations can thrive. Advocating for diversity in the workplace helps to promote it in the wider community and this can only be good for Northern Ireland."
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Award sponsor, Adrian Moynihan, AIB (NI), encourages employers to apply before the 06 December deadline and demonstrate their active support for equality and diversity: "By applying for these awards organisations can formally thank employees for their outstanding work. They can also demonstrate the impact equality and diversity has had on their business and reinforce their commitment to equality and diversity best practice. Participating in the awards can also help businesses to attract employees who want to work for an organisation that is a driver of diversity.

"At AIB we recognise and value diversity and it shapes all of our thinking and decisions making processes and ultimately enhances outcomes for our customers and the communities we serve. We are very proud to be sponsoring the Northern Ireland Equality & Diversity Gala awards, which showcase individuals and organisations who are truly committed to inclusion."

Fellow sponsor, Ciara Fulton, Senior Partner at Jones Cassidy Brett added: "At a time when equality and diversity issues are the focus of so much media attention, it is more important than ever to champion the good work that many employers in Northern Ireland are doing to demonstrate their commitment to equality and diversity in the workplace. These awards serve not only as a vehicle for celebrating the achievements of these employers and individuals but also as a mechanism for promoting and encouraging diversity in the workplace."

Diversity NI, a Belfast-based accredited Chartered Institute of Linguists Exam Centre, providing professional interpreting and translation services for a wide range of private and public sector clients, is also supporting this year's awards.

Paolina Hawthorne, Founder at Diversity NI, said: "I am particularly passionate about diversity in opinion, background and outlook, as it's crucially important in order for companies to achieve their best potential. I am privileged to support this year's Northern Ireland Equality and Diversity Awards. It provides a fantastic platform for organisations to celebrate and encourage the vast opportunities that cultural differences bring to the workplace."

The deadline for entries is 12 noon on Friday 6 December 2019. Entries can be made online.

Applications will be read, scored, shortlisted and applicants will be notified of the results by 13 January 2020. Each shortlisted entry will be invited to meet with the judging panel for an interview on 31 January 2020.

Winners will be announced at the Northern Ireland Equality and Diversity Gala & Awards 2020 on Friday 03 April 2020 at Titanic Belfast. Entertainment on the night will include the winner of Britain's Got Talent 2018, Lee Ridley, aka Lost Voice Guy.

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