Driving Diversity in a COVID-19 World – ‘Employee Led Networks’ Webinar

We want to thank everyone that joined us at our first ‘Driving Diversity in a Covid-19 World’ event. The theme for the inaugural virtual event was ‘Employee Led Networks’ and we were delighted to have Sandra Wright, HR Business Partner at Ulster Bank authentically share the Bank’s journey with this effective diversity initiative.

Sandra shared that Ulster Bank aligned the goals of their Employee Led Networks with the goals of their company diversity strategy. They continually seek feedback from their networks to help with changing mindsets, behaviours and also to influence policy change.

Please click here to view a recording of the Webinar

Some of the key learnings from this session:

  • Employee Networks/Resource Groups help to attract and retain talent

  • Organisations should initially establish if there is an appetite for a network (Survey Monkey or Focus Groups)

  • Founding network members should be enthusiastic and energetic

  • Networks can help everyone understand what it is like to be an underrepresented group

  • Network events should be open to everyone in the organisation

  • They help bring colleagues together as allies and enable networking

  • Each network should have an Executive sponsor/champion visibly supporting activities

  • Networks should have budget and time allocated for events and activities

  • Partnerships with outside agencies and charities can help to provide an outside perspective, such as Women in Business NI, Diversity Mark NI, Stonewall, Parenting NI

  • Emerging leaders can often be identified and developed through networks

Employee Led Networks/Resource Groups are a valuable resource for company diversity plans as minority groups can provide valuable insights on company products, missions, policies, and methods.  They can be involved in tackling company wide challenges and help to improve working conditions, and the physical environment for everyone in the organisation.  Innovation can only flourish if people can bring their best selves to work.

Many thanks that was really helpful and insightful, some great work being done and we have picked up some points to take forward

Allstate NI – The First in NI to be awarded the Silver Diversity Mark

Diversity Mark NI are thrilled to announce that Allstate NI are the first company in Northern Ireland to be awarded the Silver Diversity Mark Award. Allstate started their D&I journey with us three years ago and have shown passion, accountability, and proactive progression in reaching this milestone.

Our Independent Assessors commended Allstate’s comprehensive nature of their Silver application which evidenced challenging diversity targets. The assessment panel were particularly impressed with their ability to show an evidence basis approach which gathers data and feedback first before developing strategies and putting in place new challenging targets.

John Healy OBE, Vice President and Managing Director, Allstate NI said:

“Now more than ever, inclusive diversity needs to be at the core of everything we do. As such, I am delighted that we are the first company in Northern Ireland to receive the Silver Diversity Award.

“As this is Pride Month it is particularly special to be recognised for our focus on LGBTQ+ inclusion and diversity. However, as a society we all have to work to improve all aspects of this and I am looking forward to Allstate NI continuing to set the bar high for others.”

“This award is a credit to all the hard work that is done here at Allstate NI to make it a workplace where our employees can be themselves and where the strengths and talents of each individual are recognised. I’m especially proud of all of our employees who actively promote diversity and inclusion through our company values and range of Employee Resource Group’s.”

John Healy OBE, Vice President and Managing Director

We can not wait to continue Allstate’s D&I journey with them to pursue their drive and determination to become a leading example of a dynamic, successful and diverse workforce.

Energia Group & Encirc are awarded the Mark of Progress

We were delighted and proud to have presented energy company Energia Group and glass manufacturer Encirc Ltd. with the Bronze Diversity Mark this month.

This robust award is independently assessed by our passionate and highly regarded voluntary independent assessors. The assessment panel acknowledged the passion, dedication, and commitment by the organisations to improve Gender Diversity at all levels and build inclusive working environments to benefit everyone.

Energia Group and Encirc Ltd. can now use the ‘Mark of Progress’ as a public declaration of their commitment to Diversity & Inclusion.

Energia Group


Organisations holding the Bronze Award commit to submitting annual reports signed by the Chair or Chief Executive of their organisation.  Annual reports are independently reviewed each year by the assessment panel to maintain the Bronze Award and strive for the Silver Diversity Mark with all signatories receiving expert, detailed independent feedback annually.

We also want to congratulate Liberty IT & Slice for maintaining the Bronze Diversity Mark for a second year.  The assessment panel were particularly impressed with the progress that the organisations have made over the last 12 months with both submitting new targets and challenges moving into their second year holding the ‘Mark of Progress’.

Liberty IT


Contact emma@diversity-mark-ni.co.uk to talk about how your organisation could benefit from becoming a Diversity Mark signatory – working towards achieving the ‘Mark of Progress’

Diversity Mark Bronze Charter Mark Celebrations

We were delighted and proud to have presented another five very progressive organisations with the Bronze Diversity Charter Mark.

The robust award is independently assessed by our wonderfully passionate and highly regarded assessors. They acknowledged the continued passion, dedication and persistent striving by the organisations enhancing within Diversity & Inclusion not only their own working environments but also reaching out into and beyond their sectors & communities.

The following organisations were awarded The Diversity Bronze Award and can use the Mark of Progress as a public declaration to their commitment to Diversity & Inclusion:

Northern Ireland Housing Executive

Holy Evangelists’ Primary School



Vox FP

Once you have been awarded the Bronze Charter Mark Award each member will then go on to submit an annual review for the assessment panel to assess and provide feedback on the your continued D&I journey.

Enormous congratulations to the following organisations who have worked continuously to maintain the Diversity Bronze Award:

Queen’s University Belfast

Northern Ireland Water

Business in the Community


Baker McKenzie

Contact emma@diversity-mark-ni.co.uk to find out more information on becoming a DMNI Member and working towards achieving the Bronze Charter Mark Award.

Remote Working – Best Practice Tips and Strategies

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep the globe and with further social-distancing measures being imposed many of us are now working from home. This massive unprecedented shift to distance working may have long-term benefits as we learn new habits and introduce apps and software to enable effective remote working.

Developing remote teams might be the key to a truly inclusive workforce allowing organisations to diversify by hiring outside of the typical employee profile.  Remote working opens the workforce to talented people who are unable to commute or be in the office during normal business hours, possibly due to caring commitments or a disability. Jobs advertised with the possibility of home working will result in a wider talent pool inclusive of more groups who are generally underrepresented in the workforce.

We have listed below some useful strategies and tips for individuals and companies to assist in managing remote working.


1.   Working from home can be a big transition. You might feel any combination of lonely, isolated, stressed, frustrated, anxious, unmotivated, or — on the other hand — relieved, relaxed, energized, or productive. It’s all OK and normal. Any transition takes time to get used to, so try to be easy on yourself.

2.   Take scheduled breaks. Try setting an alarm to get up and stretch every hour or so. (Standing desks, which at home may mean perching your laptop on top of a bookshelf, also pay large dividends for overall health.) Walk around your home while chatting on the phone with a friend. Move to a separate area — away from your email — to eat lunch for 30 minutes.

3.   Protect your workspace. Talk to family members about the hours you are working from home and the ground rules during those hours.

4.    Turn on a white noise machine or app. This really helps to reduce noise distractions around your work area.

5.    Pay attention to ergonomics. Use the most comfortable chair you can with back support. Also consider investing in a hands-free headset. At the very least, pop in your earphones for long phone calls.


1.   Over communicate. This is even more important when you are working remotely.

2.   Know your remote work policies. Your HR department probably has a handbook or some guidelines on working during a crisis, including remote work policies, procedures, and expectations. Now would be a really good time to read this.

3.   Managers – tell your team how they can reach you. If you manage people, be clear with them about any new or different communication and productivity expectations you have now that your team is working remotely. Most important is telling your team specifically how you want them to communicate with you now that they can’t pop into your office or run into you in the halls. Should they call, email, text, IM, Skype, Slack, Zoom, WebEx? Don’t assume they know.

4.   Tell your team when they can reach you. Do you want people to check in with you first thing in the morning? Send a daily or weekly update on what they’ve been working on? The more guidance and boundaries you provide, the fewer misunderstandings will occur and the more smoothly work can stay on track.

5.   Make sure to clarify expectations for your team. Connect with key colleagues around communication, work priorities, and success metrics. Will everyone be expected to work the same hours? Will all of the same projects and plans be moving forward? Don’t let people make assumptions about anything that’s unclear — answer those questions.

6.   Note your project progress. Remote workers need to be especially proactive and alert colleagues to progress on longer-term goals. For instance, you might send a daily email with a list of projects that have advanced that day.

7.   Resolve issues quickly with a phone call. Be quick to pick up the phone to resolve issues.

8.    Promptly return emails, calls, and voice mails. Keep in mind that people tend to be more aware of time when working remotely. Fair or not, a colleague might find a four-hour response time to an email much too delayed when he or she is picturing you sitting at your desk at home all day.

9.   Keep up more casual communication habits. If you normally catch up with colleagues in person before a big meeting, do the same before dialing in to a group conference call when everyone is remote. Even when at home, you should confirm receipt of messages and check in with people when you start your day and end your day. Try to follow the same rituals and habits to maintain relationships and a sense of normality.

10.  Create your video studio. Video conferences are commonplace for remote workers. Make sure to have a professional or plain background behind you and dress and groom professionally (at least the parts of you that others will see onscreen). Check that you have adequate lighting and a decent microphone (most earphones work well).

11.   Create a system for sharing documents. If you don’t already, now would be a good time to consider Google Docs, Box, or Dropbox to share files. Don’t scatter team files across email, Google Docs, and your personal hard drive. Consolidate.


1.   Do whatever you can to keep things aligned with your existing company culture. Even though working remotely does drastically change interactions since you’re no longer together in person, you can still make sure that the little things you did in the office continue. This might include sending funny, work-appropriate GIFs over Slack, text, or email; chatting about sports or your family or anything else you would normally do by the water cooler; and volunteering together through an online charity project instead of an in-person event. These little things help reduce feelings of isolation and anxiety.

2.   Take time for “water cooler” chat. Working from home, since you won’t be bumping into your colleagues you won’t have the same opportunity for chitchat and human connection, but it is so important to retain. Make time every day to text with colleagues, check in personally, share stories, ask how people are doing. If your company is using an instant messaging system, consider adding a “water cooler” channel to help encourage this element of communication across the team.

3.  Dress and groom professionally. Your morning prep routine plays a large role in determining your mindset for the day.  You’ll find you’re more productive when you dress for the day and brush your teeth.

4.   Use video, even if it’s uncomfortable for you. To avoid feeling isolated, use video technology to connect with your team and colleagues in a more intentional, human way. When you’re speaking, look up at the camera on your computer — not at the screen — so people can see your eyes.

5.  Emphasize one-on-one check-ins. Don’t cancel your one-on-ones just because they can’t be held in person. Even a two-minute IM chat, video call, or text message chain can make employees feel more connected.

6.   Ask for feedback on your remote situation. Finally, and especially if you are new to working remotely, ask your colleagues for regular feedback on how the situation is working out.

Diversity Mark NI Covid-19 Update

As the Covid 19 pandemic evolves the Diversity Mark NI team will be working from home to ensure the safety of our people.  As always, we are here for our members and we encourage you to keep in touch. We have Zoom and Skype accounts set up and will be able to host virtual face to face meetings and we are working on creating new ways and ideas of keeping in touch and engaging with our members.

Please get in touch with us if you would like to arrange an e-meeting on info@diversity-mark-ni.co.uk

Working from home can be hard if you are not sure how to keep yourself organised and on task.  Identify what habits lead to the most productive work from home experience, and what tactics you can adopt to keep on task, managing your time, meeting deadlines, and also enjoying a good work/life balance – no easy task when your home life and workplace are one and the same.  See our latest news for Remote Working – Best Practice Tips and Strategies.

Northern Ireland’s Inaugural Diversity & Inclusion Summit

Diversity Mark NI recently hosted the Inaugural Diversity & Inclusion Summit at Titanic Belfast, the first of its kind to take place in Northern Ireland.

The Inaugural Diversity & Inclusion Summit 2020

Highlights of our wonderful Diversity & Inclusion Summit 2020 sponsored by Danske Bank UK Allstate Northern Ireland Gilbert-Ash & Denroy Plastics

Posted by Diversity Mark NI on Wednesday, March 4, 2020

The Summit examined the crucial issue of Diversity and Inclusion going ‘Beyond the Tick Box’ and the event was formally opened by David Sterling, Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service.

David Sterling spoke passionately about the jouney that the Northern Ireland Civil Service has been on and that he wanted the organisation’s Diversity to be reflective of society by creating a truly inclusive workplace culture.

The event kicked off with Laura Bates Founder of the The Everyday Sexism Project speaking to the 200 attendees that attitudes are very much ingrained and we have to recognize that diversity and inclusion should be embedded into the culture of our organisations if we want to see real change.

It can not just be ticking a box, mentioning it once now and then, it has to be turning up and walking the walk

Laura Bates, Founder of The Everyday Sexism Project

The first informative and thought provoking panel discussion examined the theme ‘What a tick box culture looks like’ and included David Sterling, Head of the NICS, Evelyn Collins CBE, Chief Executive of the Equality Commission NI and David Johnston, Head of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion at the PSNI. The theme strongly shining through was that for Diversity to be effective organisations need active and authentic visible leaders.

Dr Wendy Austin with Evelyn Collins CBE, Chief Executive of the Equality Commission NI, David Sterling, Head of the NICS, and David Johnston, Head of Equality, Diversity & inclusion PSNI

Professor Ruth Sealy, University of Exeter then spoke about the importance of Diversity and Inclusion starting with data, and that we shouldn’t make assumptions. We should strive for a clear understanding of our data and then work towards a focused evidence based plan.

A clarity of focus and the importance of bringing your full self to work through deepening your own understanding of peoples lived experience was a key discussion on the ‘How to avoid a tick box culture’ panel with Fergal McFerran, NI Account Manager at Stonewall, Jill Minne Strategic HR Director, NICS and Professor Ruth Sealy.

Our keynote speaker Lord Davies of Abersoch gave a very insightful speech on how to be futuristic leaders and that we should embrace Diversity if we want to attract and retain top talent and protect our brands moving into the coming years.

Lord Davies of Abersoch, CBE

We are overwhelmed with the feedback from the Inaugural Summit and we are look forward to planning the next one which will be held on Friday 12th February 2021 at Titanic Belfast.

“The Summit was one of my top ever events

“I found this event inspirational and authentic”

“The speakers provided a very balanced view on diversity in the workplace”

“Linking very well back to company performance and bottom line”

SPONSOR IMAGE Nichola Robinson, Chair of Diversity Mark NI with Ray Hutchinson, Gilbert-Ash, Donna-Marie Gill, Danske Bank, Keith Lippert, Allstate, Philip Steele, Denroy and Christine White, Head of Business at Diversity Mark NI
The Diversity Mark NI Team with the Summit speakers

Contact Christine White, Head of Business on christine@diversity-mark-ni.co.uk to find out how your business could benefit from achieving and maintaining the Mark of Progress.

Charter Mark Award Celebration at Ulster Bank

Charter Mark award winners, IQ & Co, MJM Marine, NIE Networks, fscom, Exploristics

We were delighted and proud to have presented five very progressive organisations with the Bronze Diversity Charter Mark at our Awards Lunch this month hosted by Ulster Bank.

The Diversity Mark independent assessors were particularly impressed with the challenges that these organisations have set themselves, with some very creative and innovative initiatives to build an inclusive and positive culture to retain and attract top talent needed to compete in the coming years.

The following organisations were awarded at the event and can use the Mark of Progress as a public declaration to their commitment to Diversity & Inclusion:

Northern Ireland Electricity Networks

IQ & Co



MJM Marine

Diversity Mark NI independent assessor Judith Gillespie, former Deputy Chief Constable at the PSNI spoke passionately regarding her role and the importance of embracing the Charter Mark.

Organisations can’t afford not to do this because it is vital that we are all committing to being in a better position and adding value to not only to business, but also society

Judith Gillespie, Former Deputy Chief Constable, PSNI

Dr Bryan Keating, Diversity Mark NI vice-chair also spoke at the event highlighting his personal reasons for being involved and his passion for championing Diversity due to the vast business benefits to companies of all sizes in attaining the Charter Mark.

Thank you to Ulster Bank for hosting the celebrations, every detail was executed to perfection and all award winners thoroughly enjoyed the occasion.

Charter Mark Award presented to Exploristics
Charter Mark Award presented to fscom
Charter Mark Award presented to IQ & Co
Charter Mark Award presented to MJM Marine
Charter Mark Award presented to Northern Ireland Electricity Networks
Hosts Ulster Bank with Diversity Mark NI

To find out how your business could benefit from Northern Ireland’s only independent, not-for-profit Charter Mark for Diversity and Inclusion contact christine@diversity-mark-ni.co.uk

Diversity Mark Breakfast hosted by FinTrU

Katrien Roppe, Darragh McCarthy, Christine White, David Gavaghan and Emma Lyttle

Thank you to Darragh McCarthy, Katrien Roppe and the wonderful team at FinTrU for hosting a Diversity Mark breakfast at their offices today.

At the event our Head of Business Christine White along with the support of David Gavaghan, Diversity Mark NI Board Member spoke to a wide range of invited guests from diverse sectors including, Law, Financial Services, Technology and Farming.

We were thrilled to have Darragh McCarthy, CEO and Founder of FinTrU, passionately speak on FinTrU’s journey with Diversity and Inclusion. Darragh shared how he believes that Diversity Mark NI plays an essential role within his organisation. He went on to further explain that Diversity Mark helps create a clarity of focus on diversity efforts. He highlighted that the Charter Mark is a great pathway to progression.

“The Diversity Charter Mark is the pathway to progress and focuses the mind on doing the right stuff. It is no longer optional, it has to happen!”

Darragh McCarthy, CEO and Founder of FinTrU

FinTrU have shown real commitment and dedication to diversity and culture and are at a very exiting stage on their journey. 

FinTrU has experienced significant growth over the last number of years and is showing no signs of slowing down. In 2019 they secured back to back Belfast Business Award wins for ‘Business Growth’ and ‘Best Company to Work For’ to add to their eight business awards in 2018

Emma Lyttle appointed Membership Engagement Manager

Emma Lyttle joined Diversity Mark NI in a new role as Membership Engagement Manager. 

Emma’s role will be to deliver regular engagement for Diversity Mark NI members via events, roundtables, communications, Ezines, and sharing of research reports to grow a learning community focussed on creating diverse and inclusive workplace cultures. 

Emma is passionate about people and she looks forward to meeting and working with Diversity Mark members and enabling the sharing of best practice in the growing learning community.  With a very successful background in Sales and Hospitality, exceeding expectations is the goal for Emma. 

She feels energised to be joining Diversity Mark NI at such an exciting time and believes that the opportunities and potential is endless.