Queen’s University Belfast Diversity Award

Congratulations to Queen’s University Belfast on achieving the Gender Diversity Charter Mark.  The award was presented to Professor Ian Greer, President & Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s at a recent Business Leaders Diversity Breakfast he hosted at the iconic Lanyon Building earlier this month.

Queen’s have been on the diversity journey for many years having won their first Athena SWAN Diversity Award in May 2007 and they have had an exemplary record of submissions since then.

We are excited to be with Queen’s on their diversity journey and look forward to working with them over the coming years.

Diversity Mark NI Vice Chair awarded CBE

Dr. Bryan Keating has been awarded a CBE in the 2019 New Year’s Honours list for services to economic development in Northern Ireland.  Dr Keating has been a director of and an investor in a number of Northern Ireland technology businesses over the last four decades and is the former chairman of MATRIX, Northern Ireland’s science & industry panel.  He is the managing partner of the CIP partnership, visiting professor at the University of Ulster, chairman of the advisory board of the Northern Ireland Centre for Entrepreneurship in Belfast and more recently Diversity Mark NI vice chairman.

The CBE is the highest possible award of the Order of the British Empire, given for prominent national or regional roles and to those making distinguished or notable contributions in their own specific areas of activity. Only six were awarded in the Northern Ireland 2019 New Years Honours list.

The Diversity Mark NI board are delighted that Dr Keating’s continued contribution to Northern Ireland’s economic development has been recognised in this way and extend their warmest congratulations to Bryan and his family on this well-deserved honour.

Dr Bryan Keating CBE

Guardian Public Service Diversity Award for NIFRS

At a very special evening in London on Tuesday the winners of this year’s Guardian Public Service Awards were revealed.  We are very proud of our members at the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service for being awarded the Diversity & Inclusion Award.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service serves a population of 1.8 million people. It has 68 stations and approximately 2,230 employees, including 917 full-time firefighters. There are also 994 retained (part-time) firefighters, who have other jobs but who live and work no more than five minutes away from a fire station. The 2018 firefighter intake was 11% female, 11% were BME and 7% were LGBT.  In 1991, Heather Smart became Northern Ireland’s first female firefighter – and she stayed for 27 years, retiring this year. Thanks to her efforts, more and more women are finding their vocation in the fire service.

Today, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) employs 60 female firefighters.  Even so, it remains – as in the rest of the UK – a service dominated by men. In 2017, 3.6% of the service’s firefighters were women, an increase from 2% in 2009. NIFRS has already acted to address the under-representation of firefighters from the Catholic community, but wanted to do more to improve its record on recruiting women.

It was important, says David Moore, director of human resources, to have a workforce representative of the community, but another driver was that organisations that are diverse are more successful.  The organisation set a target of having at least 10% of applications from women. This involved an active approach – reaching out to women and showing them the attractions of a career in the fire service – rather than passively waiting for them to apply, but also identifying elements of the recruitment process that indirectly discriminated against women.


Heather Smart, the first female firefighter in the NIFRS

Diversity Success for Deloitte at Danske Bank Breakfast

Danske Bank Chief Executive Kevin Kingston hosted our November Diversity breakfast in the Danske Bank Board Room earlier this month.  Kevin welcomed other Diversity Mark NI members and business leaders and used the opportunity as a chance to discuss the positive cultural changes required to address gender diversity in the workplace.

Our head of business Christine White chaired the breakfast meeting and everyone enjoyed the discussions with input from board member Roseann Kelly, CEO of Women in Business NI and independent assessor Dianne Foster, IT director at Baker McKenzie.

Kevin encouraged other organisations to sign up for a ‘Gender Diversity Charter Mark’ and the meeting ended with Jackie Henry, head of Deloitte NI being presented with the ‘Gender Diversity Charter Mark’ Award.

Thank you to Kevin for hosting such a wonderful event and congratulations to Deloitte on achieving the ‘Gender Diversity Charter Mark’!



Women in Business Awards for Diversity Mark NI Members

WIBNI 2018 Awards

The Women in Business Awards celebrate, reward and acknowledge the hard work and achievements of some of the most successful, entrepreneurial and inspiring business women throughout Northern Ireland. Now in their 8th year, the Women in Business Awards allow all sectors and industries to come together for an evening of celebration to recognise the best of home grown talent and the valuable contribution that women make to the economic life of Northern Ireland.

We were delighted to attend the Awards night at the Crowne Plaza earlier this month and were thrilled to see many of our members reach the final stage of the process.  We want to congratulate Elaine Birchall of The SHS Group, Allstate, Vicky Davies of Danske Bank & Katie Matthews of Excel in Education Tutoring School on receiving awards.

Diversity Mark NI ‘Award Winning’ Members


Elaine Birchall, CEO SHS Group

Award for Advancing Diversity in the Workplace sponsored by Queen’s University Belfast

Corporate Winner – Allstate Northern Ireland
Individual Winner – Vicky Davies, Danske Bank UK

Award for Best New Start Up sponsored by Go For It

Katie Matthews – Excel In Education Tutoring School Ltd









October Diversity breakfast at the SHS Group

Belfast-based SHS Group, distributors of many well-known consumer brands such as Shloer and WKD, is the latest company to be presented with a gender diversity award at an intimate diversity breakfast attended by a selection of guests from the Northern Ireland business community.

Elaine Birchall, chief executive of SHS Group was delighted to receive the gender diversity award after their application was assessed by the independent assessment panel.

“I became aware of the NI Gender Diversity Charter Mark through Women in Business NI and from discussions with other business leaders.  The framework enables businesses to identify and reflect on the career progression of women in their organisation and in doing so supports the overall diversity agenda, and therefore the working environment of all employees. This ethos fits well with that of the SHS Group

 We recently refreshed our HR Strategy, placing a strong focus on building performance and capability. Our goal is to support our employees to be the best that they can be and diversity &  inclusion are fundamental aspects of this.  To ensure we get our approach right we have established a working group across our Divisions to progress diversity and inclusion.  All employee levels are represented and we regularly monitor our progress on Gender Diversity.

 The NI Gender Diversity Charter Mark is a way of showing commitment to gender diversity and suitable plans to address any diversity gaps that may exist. We are delighted to be awarded the bronze level and we recognise the importance of the journey that we are on. I personally would like to encourage other organisations to sign up to the Charter and make a firm commitment to addressing areas of inequitable gender representation and work on putting in place a strategy and action plan to effect change.”



Homecare Independant Living celebrate Diversity success

We are proud to have HCIL on board as Bronze Gender Diversity Award Winners.  

“At HCIL, we celebrate the diverse team we have and the wide range of careers and opportunities within our businesses.  A diverse workforce makes our business stronger, more empathetic, more dynamic, more innovative and more adaptable to the changes our industry will continue to face. We are extremely proud to receive the Bronze Gender Diversity Charter Mark and to continue in our promotion and celebration of HCIL as a diverse and inclusive place to work.”  Mairead Mackle, CEO Homecare Independent Living

Homecare Independent Living recently announced 200 new jobs in major recruitment drive with up to €5 million investment across its suite of businesses of the next 12 months.  Click here to read more.

Christine White Appointed Head of Business

Christine White was recently appointed as Head of Business of Diversity Mark NI and she is delighted with the success of the organisation over its first 12 months. She is keen to continue to make a difference to the NI Economy through the promotion of Diversity Mark NI to all companies throughout NI. As she explained, “diversity accreditation will set businesses and organisations apart.  Focus on diversity is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.  Many studies from McKinsey & Credit Suisse have shown that companies with a more diverse workforce have improved performance and better bottom line results.  Companies with Diversity clearly on their agenda, who hold our Charter Mark, are much more attractive to future talent as people are more in tune with gender issues than ever before.

We are proud to have presented awards to organisations from a wide range of sectors and sizes.  Our smallest accredited company to date currently have 45 employees right up to our largest organisation – the Northern Ireland Civil Service with over 23,000 employees.

We were delighted too that organisations from typically male dominated sectors, the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service and Gilbert Ash, have not only engaged but been awarded the Bronze Charter Mark. Target setting is unique to each business depending on their own individual circumstances, there are no barriers to starting your Diversity journey with us.”

Top Local Businesses Recognised

Eleven local businesses have today been acknowledged for their commitment to advancing gender diversity in the work place, receiving Bronze Gender Diversity Charter Marks.

Diversity Mark NI Ltd, was set up by Women in Business to deliver the Charter Mark, it is the first of its kind and awards organisations for their commitment to progress on gender diversity. Business who have been recognised today have committed to steps to address areas of unequal gender representation at all levels: removing obstacles faced by women at key points of career development; implementing structural and cultural changes that will help advance gender diversity; and putting in place a strategy and action plan to affect change.

Nichola Robinson, Chair of Diversity Mark NI, Director at Bombardier commented, “We are delighted to award 11 organisations with a Bronze Gender Diversity Charter Mark today. These organisations within their applications have shown a real commitment to implementing inclusive growth and cultural shifts within the workplace.

“The Charter has enabled organisations to identify and reflect on institutional barriers facing women which impact progression on the career ladder. Through this, organisations have also taken steps to progress the overall diversity and equality agenda and improve the working environment for all employees.”


Roseann Kelly, Chief Executive at Women in Business commented, “In 2016 Women in Business launched its first manifesto and one of the four main pillars was Diversity. We appointed Male gender diversity champions who, together with Women in Business, have delivered the Diversity Mark NI. We are inspired and reassured that such impressive progress has been made over the past year. I would encourage other innovative and progressive organisations to sign up, not only will they be doing the right thing, there is a correlation between gender diverse companies and better bottom line results”

Organisations who have been awarded a Bronze Charter Mark have been selected by the very distinguished Diversity Mark NI Independent Assessors panel which included: Judith Gillespie, former Deputy Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Kieran Harding, Business in the Community Director, Deborah Lange, Board Member at Invest NI and Belfast Harbour Commission and Dianne Foster, Baker Mc Kenzie.

Businesses who received the Bronze Charter mark include:

Allstate NI
Alexander Mann Solutions
Belfast City Council
Danske Bank
Gilbert- Ash Ltd
Homecare Independent Living
Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service
Progressive Building Society
Police Service of Northern Ireland
Ulster Bank
Sensata Technologies Inc.

Organisations can sign up to the Charter at www.diversity-mark-ni.co.uk

For more information contact Louise Carson or Alicia Clarke at AIKEN
T; 028 9066 3000
E: louise@aikenpr.com or alicia@aikenpr.com

The Charter

  • Commits organisations to support the progression of women into senior roles by focusing on the executive pipeline and the mid-tier level;
  • Recognises that organisations are diverse and the starting points for each may differ, and thus each organisation will set its own targets, strategy and implementation plan;
  • Requires organisations to report publicly on an annual basis on the activities and initiatives designed to deliver progress against these internal targets and to support the transparency and accountability needed to drive change.
  • My organisation pledges to promote gender diversity by:
  • Having one member of our senior executive team, at Board level, who is responsible and accountable for gender diversity and inclusion including the strategy to advance women into senior roles;
  • Incorporating responsibility for gender diversity and inclusion at all management levels in the organisation;
  • Setting internal targets for reaching gender diversity in our senior and middle management.