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 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

Bronze Accredited 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.

Allstate NI recognised for Corporate Responsibility Leadership

Allstate NI has earned Business in the Community’s CORE Silver Status accreditation for excellence in corporate responsibility. The recognition is Northern Ireland’s only standard for honoring a company’s community engagement, responsible leadership and commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.

With 2,400 employees in Belfast, Strabane and Londonderry, Allstate NI is the biggest tech company in Northern Ireland and is a leader in its communities, promoting diversity and fostering an inclusive culture.

CORE is an independent accreditation designed to verify best practices in corporate responsibility and sustainability. It benchmarks Allstate NI against other leading business and public sector organisations in Northern Ireland.

Allstate NI performed best in the Responsible Leadership category, a practice highlighted as clearly embedded within the company’s culture. Business in the Community commended Allstate NI’s employee-led culture and its commitment to promoting diversity.

With a long-standing reputation for giving back to local communities, the company was praised for its structured approach to identifying areas of engagement that link both business need and employee concern.

Last year saw Allstate become the first company in Northern Ireland to be awarded the Silver Diversity Mark by Diversity Mark for fostering inclusivity through its hiring and workplace policies, with a focus on supporting the LGBTQ+ community.

Managing Director of Allstate NI John Healy said:

“We integrate social and environmental concerns into our operations and take our responsibility towards supporting our local communities seriously. These practices are reflected across every area of our business model, and we are pleased to see them highlighted with Business in the Community’s CORE Silver Status accreditation.”

Deputy Managing Director at Business in the Community Lisa McIlvenna said:

“It is fantastic to see Northern Ireland’s largest tech firm awarded our Silver Status accreditation. The CORE framework recognises companies with a clear commitment to integrating corporate responsibility into the way they do business, and we are encouraged to see Allstate NI embedding our key practices into company policy.”

Congratulations to all the team at Allstate NI from Diversity Mark.

Sandvik Mobile Crushers & Screens Reach Major Safety Milestone

Diversity Mark signatory 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.

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.

AMS awarded Silver Diversity Mark

We are delighted to announce that AMS have been awarded the Silver Diversity Mark. The award recognizes AMS’s commitment to Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace. Following a number of initiatives launched by the business to achieve silver status, including a maternity paternity programme to support working parents back into employment, a mentoring programme and a number of awareness initiatives such as Pride events and diversity inclusion days.

Marcella McKeever, Head of the Belfast Global Client Service Centre said:

“Having previously been awarded the Bronze Diversity Charter Mark for our gender diversity and inclusivity actions, AMS took action to drive new diversity targets across the business, which included addressing disability and social mobility in the workplace.  In addition to continuing to champion our initiatives across our gender diversity objectives, our aim is to become a Disability Confident Employer and provide an impact on our communities by accessing and progressing talent from all socio-economic backgrounds with the aim of improving social equality in our workplace.  We believe that a diverse, equity and inclusive workforce is not only the right ethos to have but crucial to the development and success of our people.”

Christine White, Head of Diversity Mark added:

“We are thrilled that AMS have been awarded the Silver Diversity Mark in recognition of their progress and ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Our independent assessment panel congratulated AMS on their proactive and positive approach with excellent progress demonstrated against their Gender Diversity targets.  They were also commended on their new focus and commitment to addressing Inclusion for people with Disabilities and their worthwhile work around Social Mobility in the workplace. 

We congratulate everyone at AMS on their innovative and progressive approach and we look forward to supporting them on their Diversity and Inclusion journey over the coming years whilst they maintain the highly robust Silver Accreditation and strive towards the Gold Diversity Mark.”

AMS Silver Diversity Mark

AMS is committed to continuing its journey to becoming a top diversity employer. It continues to dedicate resources to becoming a Disability Confident Employer and improve social mobility through a number of campaigns to create new career opportunities for local communities.

Congratulations once again to all the team at AMS. We are excited to continue your Diversity and Inclusion journey with you, striving for the Gold Diversity Mark in the future!

Find out more about the Diversity Mark Acreditation Programme.

NI Water awarded Bronze Diversity Mark for the third year running

Diversity Mark are delighted to announce NI Water is celebrating having been awarded the Bronze Diversity Charter Mark for the third year running. The prestigious award recognises the company’s ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion and creating an environment where everyone matters.

Sara Venning, CEO at NI Water, commented:

“Being awarded the Diversity Charter Mark is a proud moment for NI Water. The Charter is recognition of how we have worked to create a culture at NI Water where everyone can fulfil their full potential.

“We were particularly delighted with the independent panels recognition of our recent apprenticeship recruitment campaign.  This resulted in the recruitment of four female water apprentices (13% of this year’s cohort) which helps increase female representation within our frontline workforce.”

Christine White, Head of Diversity Mark, added:

“We congratulate Northern Ireland Water on retaining the Bronze Diversity Mark for a third year which is a testament to their progress and commitment to gender diversity. Our assessment panel were so encouraged by the progress achieved over the last year through the clear focus on improving gender diversity in a very challenging context. We look forward to further progress in 2022 and we are delighted to work with them as they continue this exciting journey.”

Ms Venning concluded:

“It is fantastic to pause and reflect on the hard work completed by the team at NI Water to retain this challenging standard of best practice. We have an exciting time ahead building on the success we have enjoyed to date.”  

Hear from NI Water apprentice, Erin Tennyson. Erin grew up and still lives in Lurgan, County Armagh.

“I was motivated to apply for this apprenticeship in the water industry while doing my dissertation at uni on the water quality of Lough Neagh. When I saw this apprenticeship advertised I knew it would be perfect to help me gain more knowledge and hands on experience.”

“I love this industry and find it really interesting so gaining new skills within it will be great. I also hope this course will lead me to a career for life, I am enjoying working for NI Water so much already.”

Find out more about the Diversity Mark Acreditation Programme.

Signifyd awarded Bronze Diversity Mark

We are delighted to announce that Signifyd have been awarded the Bronze Diversity Mark. The accreditation recognises Signifyd’s commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Signifyd started their Diversity Mark journey in June 2020.

“We congratulate Signifyd on achieving the Bronze Diversity Mark for their commitment and dedication to gender diversity. Our independent assessment panel were thoroughly impressed with their measurable, tangible metrics and visible action plans which will ultimately benefit all employees, and they welcomed the clarity of their application and their energetic approach. We are excited to work with Signifyd on their diversity and inclusion journey as it unfolds over the coming years.”

Christine White, Head of Business at Diversity Mark

Matthew Hamilton is Signifyd’s senior HR manager based in the UK. Matthew is responsible for People Operations across our EMEA region and has interests in employee engagement, diversity, equity and inclusion and mental health.

Matthew posted about what it means for Signifyd to be recognised for their commitment, you can read his blog by clicking here.

Congratulations once again to all the team at Signifyd.

Find out more about the Diversity Mark Acreditation Programme.