Catalyst Champion Diversity and Inclusion within the STEM sector

Catalyst is an independent, not-for-profit organisation which supports the growth of the knowledge economy in Northern Ireland through innovation, research, training, and development activity. The entrepreneurial eco-system created by the team is home to many STEM sector businesses.

Catalyst started their Diversity and Inclusion journey in 2018 and hold the Bronze Diversity Mark which has positively impacted upon their 2700 strong workforce.

Director of HR Shauna Collins gives us an insight to their Diversity and Inclusion journey thus far:

At Catalyst we are aware of the positive outcomes that can be achieved by bringing together diverse groups of people.  We not only want to foster and empower a culture of innovation, but also an environment where people can be their true, authentic self and thrive. Recognising the need to ensure that the principles of equality and diversity are practiced for the benefit of our staff and community alike was a key driver for joining the Diversity Mark accreditation programme.

After the highs of achieving our Bronze status in February 2020, we were very quickly thrust into the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been our biggest challenge, as like many others, we had to navigate our business through the crisis. However, as we embraced online collaboration and work practices, we were able to make progress on our Diversity and Inclusion targets in a more virtual world.  Our targets included objectives to better understand our gender makeup and assess whether any gender barriers existed within our recruitment processes.”

Creating a Diverse and Inclusive Organisational Culture

Catalyst recruited an Executive Team member to champion the Diversity and Inclusion agenda and ensure it is heard and addressed at the most senior levels within the organisation. Diversity and Inclusion is a regular topic of discussion at monthly board meetings. Relevant information and statistics are collated and presented to the board and used to inform strategic decisions including recruitment strategies.

In order to attract a more diverse pool of talent Catalyst needed to understand their recruitment trends. Analysis of application information from previous recruitment campaigns enabled the team to create a baseline, and critically review recruitment campaigns to ensure that they were gender neutral, with no barriers to application. Gender-neutral panels were put in place and staff members completed recruitment and selection training with a wider employee pool.

A review of Non-Executive recruitment was also completed, leading to the creation of a briefing document explicitly stating that the organisation welcomes applications from female applicants, who were underrepresented at Board level. Catalyst is delighted to have welcomed their first ever female Chair, hired based on merit, and fit for the role, regardless of gender.

Following improvements to Catalyst’s recruitment processes, the team continue to monitor processes to ensure that the increase of female applications continues. Using the learnings from recruitment research, the team plan to conduct further research into programme applications to ensure any learnings are shared.

In addition, members of the Catalyst team have attended events hosted by Diversity Mark, and participated in Unconscious Bias Training, and Diversity and Inclusion e-learning programmes. This has helped employees to enhance their knowledge of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion and implement best practice solutions within the work environment.

Catalyst CEO Steve Orr commented

“We are proud to be recognised by the Diversity Mark and it stands as a testament to our workplace philosophy where diversity is acknowledged and celebrated as a fundamental component of our culture.”

The team at Diversity Mark are excited about continuing to support Catalyst on their journey and sharing in their continued progress over the coming years.

Find out more about joining the Diversity Mark Accreditation programme.

Alchemy Technology Services reach no. 29 On UK’s Best Workplaces List

Alchemy Technology Services announced on Thursday that they had reached the top 30 on the UK’s Best Workplaces list.

Based on confidential employee surveys, Alchemy achieved some of the highest scores among the 183 companies listed with 97% of Alchemy employees saying that Alchemy was a “Great Place to Work”.

Alchemy Founder and CEO, John Harkin said, “We are delighted to have achieved a place on this year’s Best Workplaces List. We have worked hard to create a workplace where our people feel supported and valued, have the best opportunities for progression and can become the best versions of themselves. We have grown the company from 2 employees in 2018 to over 100 at the end of 2020 and we’re just getting started. We have two separate recruitment campaigns running at the moment due to client demand.

Our staff have progressed at an extraordinary rate, some doubling their salaries in 2 years through promotions and progressions and the majority seeing anywhere between a 25-50% pay rise at the end of their first year with us. We have proved we have industry leading opportunities and salaries for people locally.”

100% of Alchemy employees surveyed said “When you join the organisation, you are made to feel welcome.” While 98% said “I’m proud to tell others I work here.”

Head of Human Resources, Anne O’Neill said, “We are very proud of this achievement. We have a very unique working culture at Alchemy and I think that has driven our success, both in achieving a place on the Best Workplaces list and as a business. We are progressive and quite different in how we do things. As we have a flat structure, we have developed a coaching and mentoring culture to support and develop our employees.  We have also developed a system of progression which is open and transparent.

What makes it different from traditional promotion processes is that there is no limit on the number of people who can be promoted at any time. Very simply if you make the grade, you get the reward, creating an environment that is collaborative and supportive as there is no competition for roles. It puts the individual firmly in control of their own career path.”

Alchemy launched in Derry/Londonderry in September 2018 and have since held 6 Assured Skills Academies. They are currently recruiting experienced insurance software professionals for senior roles as well as graduates for their 7th Academy. More information can be found at

Congratulations to all the team at Alchemy from Diversity Mark.

Does Your Business Welcome and Support Autistic Employees?

In Northern Ireland there is a 21.7% employment rate for autistic adults. This is one of the lowest rates of employment across disabilities, despite many autistic individuals being able and motivated to gain and maintain employment.  

April marks Autism Awareness Month, which serves as a reminder to employers and those working alongside individuals with autism of the need to #BeKindToDifferentMinds.

One key reason for the low numbers of autistic individuals employed in Northern Ireland is a lack of understanding about the condition and how to support autistic employees.

What is Autism?

Autism is a lifelong condition that affects how a person communicates and interacts with others, and how they experience the wider environment. Autism affects people in different ways, with most people experiencing differences (to a greater or lesser extent) in the areas of social communication, social skills and routines, and sensory processing.

Whilst some additional provisions need to be made for autistic individuals in the workplace, help is available to support and guide employers in this area.

Autism Training and Support for Employers

Autism NI provides training and support to employers to help them build confidence and understanding of reasonable adjustments they need to put in place, thus enabling them to become diverse and inclusive employers and benefit from the skills that these individuals bring to the workplace.

Christine Kearney, Director of Development at Autism NI highlights below the key message regarding improving employment opportunities for autistic individuals.

“Employing a diverse workforce makes great business sense. Autistic individuals will have a range of fantastic skills and attributes that they can contribute to the workplace and can be excellent members of the team or workplace. By not understanding autism or by excluding autistic individuals from your workplace, you could be missing out on the best candidate and employee.”

“The Autism Act (NI) 2011 recognises that as a social communication disability, there is a legal obligation to provide reasonable adjustments for autistic individuals within employment, to ensure equal access to opportunities and to avoid disability discrimination. Employers should feel confident to provide reasonable adjustments to autistic individuals at recruitment and selection, induction and through ongoing employee support.”

Autism NI has released a series of short webinars to raise awareness and understanding of autism with the wider public. This one focuses on autism and employment.

Take some time to consider what your company can do to improve employment opportunities for autistic individuals. Perhaps this time next year when Autism Awareness Month comes round, we will see positive increases in the number of autistic individuals employed in Northern Ireland businesses!

Check out our Global Resource Centre and in particular Autism NI – Autism and Employment for further support and guidance on Autism in the workplace.

Sandvik Mobile Crushers & Screens Reach Major Safety Milestone

Sandvik Mobile Crushers & Screens have reached a major safety milestone with 1,000 days without a lost time incident. Their employees have worked 2 years, 8 months, and 27 days without any lost time injury, which is a measure of monitoring incidents that result in an employee missing work due to an injury or accident in the workplace.

Manufacturing engineering is traditionally a hazardous environment where heavy equipment and machinery parts are part of daily operations. This milestone covers our global operations, which include offices, fabrication sites, warehouses and workshops in the UK, USA and India.

Careful consideration of hazards is given throughout their business, and a commitment to embed a health and safety culture throughout – from the Centre of Excellence, Ballygawley, Northern Ireland to those who work on customer sites and everyone in-between. There are multiple schemes in place to ensure safety remains at the heart of their business, including observation systems, regular training, toolbox talks and health and safety focus campaigns.

Safety is #1 priority at Sandvik and their EHS vision is “Zero Harm.” Throughout this challenging year, they are committed to continuously driving safety improvements and have made significant efforts towards proactive measures based on recognizing and understanding risks, reinforcing safety culture and most importantly – preventing accidents from happening.

President Mobile Crushing & Screening, Andy McCullock notes, ‘I would like to express my thanks to each and every member of the team, without whose individual contributions it would not have been possible to achieve this milestone.  We will continue to work together for “Zero Harm”.’ At a time where our health and wellbeing are top priority, it is fantastic to know that our own teams have achieved such a positive milestone. Congratulations to all our colleagues for keeping each other, our customers, and the machinery we support safe. What a great milestone to accomplish in 2021!’

Congratulations to all at Sandvik from Diversity Mark.

Diversity and Inclusion, From Talk to Action

Diversity Mark Head of Business, Christine White delivered a practical session yesterday on taking the first steps to Diversity and Inclusion at a Derry and Strabane Enterprise Week event.  The week-long programme of events powered by Startacus entitled ‘Level Up 2021’ inspired post pandemic ideas and spark creativity by exploring how people, both locally and internationally have innovated, created economic growth, and initiated real change. 

CLICK HERE to watch a recording of Christine’s presentation:

Diversity and Inclusion, From Talk to Action

‘8 Steps to Building a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace’

Find out more about the Diversity Mark Accreditation Programme.

We are hiring a Head of Business (14 month secondment or temporary contract)

We have an exciting opportunity for an individual to develop their skills whilst gaining new perspective in a purposeful role as Head of Diversity Mark. 

The right person will be able to think strategically, seeing the bigger picture and delivering objectives to develop and grow the business throughout the UK and Ireland. They will lead the organisation for a period of 14 months at an exciting stage of growth and an important, and crucial time for Diversity and Inclusion. 

Key tasks:

  • In agreement with the Chief Executive, create and implement sales plans to grow revenue and expand the signatory market and sector growth within the UK and Ireland.
  • Work closely with the Engagement Manager to achieve monthly business revenue targets to grow the DMNI business.
  • Monitor and direct the sales and marketing activities of the organisation.
  • Propose and co-ordinate agreed strategies for the development of the company, to ensure that DMNI is positioned as a trusted authority in Diversity.
  • Along with the Engagement Manager, ensure that existing relationships are nurtured and developed ensuring on-target retention of existing signatories.
  • Represent and promote the interests of the company via external conferences, events, and meetings.
  • To have in-depth knowledge of the DMNI signatory and assessment process along with employer and global diversity initiatives.
  • Attend board meetings and provide monthly financial results, forecasts and update relevant KPIs.

This is a part time role over 3 days weekly, or 21 hours worked flexibly.  Longer hours / full time will be considered. The contract can be either a 14-month temporary contract or a 14-month secondment.

How to apply:

If you consider that you meet the selection criteria for this role/secondment, please submit your application via email to: by Friday 30th April at 6pm.

Applications must consist of the following:

• a curriculum vitae

• a covering letter explaining how the candidate meets the eligibility and selection criteria (no more than 1 page)

CLICK HERE to download the job description.

The Consumer Council sign up to new initiative to help physical and mental health of its employees.

Diversity Mark signatory The Consumer Council in Belfast has signed up to a new initiative to help deal with the impact that the pandemic has had on the physical and mental health of its employees.

Determined to make a positive change and to put staff health first, The Consumer Council signed up to Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke’s Work Well Live Well programme.

Work Well Live Well, a Public Health initiative, is a free health and wellbeing support service run by Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke. NICHS health professionals help to identify health risks in the workplace and work with you to create and deliver a bespoke action plan to help improve employee wellbeing. Changes made through the plan can be as simple as greater access to healthy snacks or incentivised exercise, but the programme also concentrates on improving mental health and sleep, managing stress and reducing risk factors associated with heart disease.

Fidelma Carter, director of public health at NICHS, says:

‘There’s never been a more crucial time to check on your employee’s health – the pandemic will have affected people, both mentally and physically, in ways you may not have considered. The average worker will spend almost 85,000 hours at work over the course of their career. It is vital that those hours are safe, happy and healthy.’

Noleen Charnley, health champion at The Consumer Council, is a strong advocate for the employee health programme says:

“The Consumer Council has really benefitted from participating in the Work Well Live Well Programme,” she says. “The programme is bespoke to your organisation as they use the information from the staff survey to identify the specific areas of health and wellbeing that your staff want to improve and develop.

“The programme has really helped motivate and guide us in setting both short-term and long-term goals to improve the overall health and wellbeing of our staff. We have set up a range of initiatives and fun activities that our staff can get involved in, as well as free webinars and online learning to help educate staff on a range of topics from healthy eating to coping with stress and building resilience.

“It has been particularly beneficial throughout the pandemic, especially as our staff have been working remotely. As a result of the programme, we have agreed an action plan to improve the health and wellbeing of our staff. The programme has been fun and interactive and comes highly recommended.”

Noleen Charnley, senior consumer protection officer, The Consumer Council, Jenny Hutchinson, workplace health and wellbeing co-ordinator, Belfast HSCT area, Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke and Tara Faulkner, communications officer, The Consumer Council  

The Utility Regulator Join Diversity Mark Accreditation Programme

We are delighted to welcome on board the Utility Regulator as Diversity Mark’s newest signatory. The Utility Regulator is responsible for regulating the electricity, gas, water and sewerage industries in Northern Ireland and promoting the short- and long-term interests of consumers. The team are eager to continue their Diversity and Inclusion journey by working towards achieving the Bronze Diversity Mark Accreditation. The accreditation is based around three gender based targets that provide a framework for measurable and progressive success moving forward.

Their recently appointed CEO, John French has taken the time to explain how important it was for the organisation to sign up to Diversity Mark.

John French CEO at Utility Regulator is delighted to champion the organisations diversity and inclusion programme
John French, CEO at Utility Regulator

What prompted you as Chief Executive of the Utility Regulator to join the Diversity Mark Accreditation Programme?

Previously as Chief Executive of The Consumer Council, I and the team there, had been successful in gaining the Bronze Diversity Mark. I felt that within The Consumer Council the Diversity Mark Accreditation Programme had been an important step in the organisation’s development. The Diversity Mark process actively and positively changed many internal conversations. The Programme showed that there was a genuine commitment throughout the organisation to be inclusive, and that commitment in turn increased trust, and developed a unified sense of purpose. Therefore, in my new role as Chief Executive of the Utility Regulator, I thought that committing to the Diversity Mark Accreditation Programme was an important step in recognising the importance of diversity and inclusion within organisations, and that it could be used as a driver for generating an more inclusive culture.

What do you see as the main benefits in working towards achieving and maintaining the Diversity Mark accreditation?

Working towards the Diversity Mark accreditation provides staff and external stakeholders a visible sign of an organisation’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. It shows that everyone within the organisation is valued.    

Would you recommend the accreditation programme to others?

I would absolutely recommend the Diversity Mark accreditation programme to other organisations. The programme provides a helpful approach that enables structured and meaningful discussions around diversity and inclusion to take place in the workplace. 

Thank you to John French, we are thrilled to have the Utility Regulator on board as a Diversity Mark Signatory.

Utility Regulator for electricity water and gas in Northern Ireland join Diversity Mark accreditation programme.

Find out more about the Diversity Mark Accreditation Programme.

Texthelp awarded Bronze Diversity Mark for commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion

We are thrilled to announce that Texthelp have been awarded the Bronze Diversity Mark, in recognition of their work in diversity, equity and inclusion. It marks an important step in their journey towards growing a more inclusive workplace where all employees can thrive. 

As part of the assessment process Texthelp submitted a detailed 3-year plan to advance gender diversity in the workforce. Their Diversity Mark application was assessed by an independent panel of experts, who commended Texthelp’s progress and ambitions. The panel also suggested a number of  targets to action as they work towards the Silver Diversity Mark. 

Among Texthelp’s agreed objectives, they plan to institute a company-wide D&I policy with input from employees and external resources. Alongside this, they will continue to engage in industry partnerships and initiatives aimed at widening female participation in technology. They will also take conscious action to widen their pool of female applicants for developer roles. 

Texthelp CEO and founder Martin McKay said:

“The products and services we provide at Texthelp are forward-thinking and inclusive at their core. As we set out our company vision for the future, we want to ensure our workplace culture and structure better reflect the diverse audiences we serve. This award marks an important step in achieving that.”  

HR Officer Andrew McDermott added:

“We believe that having a diverse and well-balanced workforce should no longer be an aspiration, but a necessity. We are confident that by improving diversity within our organisation, we will benefit from different perspectives, improved relations, and more creative ideas, positioning us to offer better solutions to our customers.”

Christine White, Head of Diversity Mark added:

“We are delighted to recognise Texthelp for their commitment to Gender Diversity by awarding them the Bronze Diversity Mark. Our independent assessment panel welcomed their enthusiastic approach to building a more diverse company and making the clear connection between diversity and inclusion and business growth. We congratulate everyone at Texthelp on this achievement and we look forward to working with them as they develop their diversity initiatives over the coming years.”

Huge congratulations once again to all the team at Texthelp.

Find out more about the Diversity Mark accreditation scheme and how you can get involved here.