Transparent Thinking – Breaking The Mould in Diversity and Inclusion

Making progress in manufacturing can’t be focused purely around improving technology, it must also be grounded in creating progressive cultures that breed opportunities for everyone, regardless of their demographic or background.

As many businesses around the world recognise the benefits that come with incorporating inclusive and diverse working processes, a large proportion are unsure where to even begin. How can they enact widespread changes in long-standing behaviour throughout their organisation, in a way which is both enduring and effective?

Christine White, Head of Diversity Mark

Christine White, our Head of Business talks with Encirc for Transparent Thinking – their new insight-led content series, which will uncover and confront the biggest issues facing the global manufacturing and beverages sectors. Christine shares her expert insight around the important first steps which those responsible must take to instil futureproofed values.

One of the biggest dangers facing the world of employment today is that companies and senior leaders see diversity as being only a tick-box exercise. This isn’t what embracing diversity and inclusion is all about. It must be about creating a positive and more meaningful culture. This takes a lot of hard work and commitment, but doing it properly also brings with it real rewards and will pay dividends if it goes beyond just lip service.

A compelling business case

There is a huge difference between organisations with senior level buy in and those that do not really understand the true value of diversity and inclusion. For example:

Organisation A treats Diversity and Inclusion as a single initiative owned exclusively by HR, they think it is the right thing to do but it’s seen as more of a tick box exercise that they sometimes pay lip service to every now and then. Employees, therefore, also see it as a tick-box exercise with no authenticity.

Organisation B however, sees it as a growth enabler and the key to every decision within the organisation.  Every individual leader is bought into the value of belonging, both intellectually and emotionally. Leaders are authentic and visible champions for Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion and they are equipped to be able to explain why they care, why it matters, and why it should matter to their direct reports and colleagues.

The business case for inclusivity and diversity has been clearly made over time and is backed up by numerous academic studies which have shown that companies with greater diversity perform much better and have significantly lower staff turnover rates as well as increased innovation. McKinsey & Company found that companies in the top quartile for Gender Diversity on executive teams are 25% more likely to have above average profitability. Harvard Business Review reported in 2020 if we act now to advance gender equality this could add $13 trillion to the global GDP by 2030.

Understanding the barriers

Analysis of data is key because you can not change what you can’t see, feel, hear, understand or quantify. Auditing the system and achieving systemic change requires quantitative and qualitative data and this should be measured regularly. At Diversity Mark we  provide a framework for organisations which assists with this important step. This data should be reviewed with a key team of stakeholders. The most important stakeholder is the wider workforce, especially underrepresented groups. This vital exercise should assist in identifying any potential barriers to women or underrepresented groups, which can then be acted on accordingly.

Creating an Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Strategy

The aim of this activity would be to have a living document which outlines the values, principles, and goals of the business when it comes to Diversity and Inclusion.

An effective Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategy should include how Diversity and Inclusion links to the company’s values, core operating model and growth strategy and it should be easy to communicate.

Companies are becoming increasingly aware of how important it is to create an inclusive employer brand. Glassdoor found that 67% of candidates said that diversity in an organisation is an important factor when considering a job offer, so it is imperative to make a statement and make your diversity goals and strategy visible both internally and externally.

Working Groups can also be invaluable when planning or implementing change, starting or reviewing your diversity journey, or enabling you to really hear staff views in relation to a particular issue.

Being involved in a diversity working group can be an excellent development opportunity for individuals, as they can take ownership of tasks whilst spreading the workload – rather than a couple of individuals in HR trying to drive change.

Encirc, for example, were able to establish their first internal Women’s Network, which now supports and champions gender equality across the business. Three projects were developed by the original committee; the first of which focused on championing gender diversity in the workplace.

Developing a positive culture for employees

If you attract the best people into your organisation – will they stay?  Do team members feel they will score extra points if they work excessive hours, answer emails at weekends and evenings and wear their burnout badge with honour?  If the answer is yes, then you are unlikely to retain top talent, especially women and working families.

Culture comes from the top, and managers should lead by example here. If you can make kindness, compassion, and trust central features of your culture you will attract the best people and retain your top talent. Culture audits, anonymous surveys and exit interviews can be helpful and will give you benchmarks to improve on. If you are in constant listening mode with your employees, employee satisfaction will increase, and turnover will reduce.

Building a diverse pipeline for the future.

Many of the STEM and manufacturing organisations on board with Diversity Mark, such as Encirc, are trying to attract more females and have initiatives around reaching out into the community.  For example, outreach to girls’ schools could include offering work experience opportunities, offering work related project opportunities, providing a sponsored prize for a manufacturing or STEM related project, and engagement with local primary schools using female role models to emphasise at an early stage that manufacturing, and STEM careers are for girls and boys.

Talent mapping is a vital process in identifying the capabilities, experience and potential of current employees and aligning this with your growth strategy to reveal talent gaps and development needs. It helps to identify the stars within your organisation, and you can work on their personal development to get them ready to participate at senior levels when the time comes, whilst retaining them.

Job seekers and young people want to know what you are doing to increase diversity and inclusion in your company, which is a big reason to improve your recruitment practices.  Editing job description language thoughtfully and use of gender-neutral language, along with blind shortlisting and diverse interview panels, can help in reducing the risk of unconscious bias. In the case of Encirc, the company launched a Diversity Charter in 2019, which outlined its commitments in line with the above, to ensure a fair and balanced recruitment process. Find out more here.

If you want to find out more about the Diversity Mark accreditation programme visit www.diversity-mark-ni.co.uk or email info@diversity-mark-ni.co.uk

Prestige Insurance Holdings awarded Bronze Diversity Mark Accreditation for championing gender diversity

Huge congratulations to Diversity Mark signatory Prestige Insurance Holdings, a Group of insurance businesses delivering specialist products and services in Broking, Underwriting and Insurtech – on being awarded the Bronze Diversity Mark Accreditation for their commitment to championing gender diversity and inclusion.

The Diversity Mark is awarded to companies following an independent assessment process which ensures they have reached the required standard of commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion.  It is a ‘Mark of Progress’ that publicly declares that a company is committed to building a more diverse and inclusive workplace to benefit all employees.

The award has been granted to all businesses within the Group including AbbeyAutolinePrestige Underwriting Services, Prestige Underwriting Services (Ireland), Covernet, Stroll, Customer Claims Assist Limited, Octane Underwriting Services and Reliable Vehicle Solutions.

Trevor Shaw, Group CEO shared his pride in all the businesses for the key role they have played in helping the Group receive the Bronze Diversity Mark.

At Prestige Insurance Holdings we have always been fully committed to achieving gender diversity and inclusion in our workplace and we are delighted as a Group of businesses to achieve this recognition. 

“As well as gender diversity, we also aspire to enhance diversity and inclusion in other areas of organisational policy and practice including disability, race and ethnicity, LGBTQ+, age diversity and social mobility, so we regard this Bronze Diversity Mark as a first step on our journey.

“Throughout all businesses within the Group we are proud to have both male and female professionals in senior positions, playing a key role in the growth of each respective company and the Group as a whole.  Developing and maintaining a diverse workforce is championed at all levels throughout Prestige Insurance Holdings.

“Our Values define what Prestige Insurance Holdings believes in and how, as a core part of our strategic foundation, our people strive to deliver. Our pledge to “Respect and Integrity” highlights our commitment to treating people with kindness, dignity and professionalism, building trust through responsible actions and honest relationships.  

“Achieving the Bronze Accreditation reaffirms this ethos and we look forward to working together as a Group of businesses to achieve more in the future, including development of a Group-wide Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and Policy.”

The Diversity Mark accreditation process and application framework enables organisations to identify and take action on any institutional barriers facing minorities and underrepresented groups that can impact on their career progression. 

The Diversity Mark Assessment Panel provide expert annual independent feedback to assist organisations in building workplace environments in which all individuals feel valued, are treated fairly and respectfully and have equal access to opportunities.

Christine White, Head of Business at Diversity Mark added: 

“We are delighted to recognise Prestige Insurance Holdings Limited by awarding them the Bronze Diversity Mark Accreditation. Our independent assessment panel welcomed their well-constructed and carefully thought through submission showing an interconnectedness between each of their targets representing a high level of ambition to enhance gender diversity across the group. We congratulate everyone at Prestige on this achievement and we look forward to working with them as they develop their diversity initiatives over the coming years.”

If you have not yet joined Diversity Mark on your company’s Diversity and Inclusion journey please reach out to emma@diversity-mark-ni.co.uk to discuss the benefits and process.

You can CLICK HERE to join Diversity Mark and work towards achieving the Diversity Mark accreditation.

Diversity Mark Accreditation for Belfast City Council marks public sector first

Belfast City Council has become the first NI public sector organisation to be awarded a Silver Diversity Mark Accreditation in recognition of its commitment to promoting equality and diversity within its workforce. 

Launched in 2017, Diversity Mark is the leading authority in diversity in the UK and Ireland. The accreditation recognises an organisation’s commitment to embracing diversity and creating an inclusive culture for all staff. 

Councillor Áine Groogan, Chair of Belfast City Council’s Women’s Steering Group, said:

“Council is committed to increasing diversity within our own workforce to ensure it is reflective of all the communities we serve, so that we are best placed to deliver for all of our citizens.   

“We’re delighted to be awarded the Silver Diversity Mark as recognition of the work that has taken place to date, and our commitments for the future.” 

Councillor Groogan added: 

“A key focus for us is working towards a positive gender balance at all levels within Council.  Since achieving the Bronze level Diversity Mark in 2018, Council has achieved an equal gender balance at our most senior officer level. In the autumn we will be launching a recruitment academy, encouraging applications from women, people with disabilities and other under-represented groups for roles within our frontline teams, working to keep our local communities clean and green.” 

Belfast City Council’s Gender Action Plan for 2021-2024 was ratified at June’s Council meeting. The plan sets out how, over the next three years, Council will continue to focus on promoting gender equality in the council, and also within the community, in the economy and in the city. 

The Silver Diversity Mark accreditation also recognises Council’s commitment to developing and implementing a Minority and Ethnic Inclusion Plan by February 2022.  The action plan will address how Belfast City Council can better communicate and engage with and support existing minority ethnic staff, as well as identify what it can do to attract a more diverse applicant pool. 

Council has also approved a three-year LGBT+ Action Plan, for 2021-2024.  The plan focuses on supporting LGBT+ staff, as well raising awareness of LGBT+ issues amongst the wider workforce and increased community activity. 

Christine White, Head of Diversity Mark added

“We congratulate everyone at Belfast City Council on this very significant achievement, being the first public sector organisation to have reached the standard for this highly robust accreditation. Our independent assessment panel commended the Council for its strong commitment to diversity and inclusion and clear measurable progress made since joining Diversity Mark in 2018.  We look forward to continuing to work with Belfast City Council as they progress their Equality and Diversity plans with significant ambition across a range of equality dimensions which will positively impact the lives of many people within their organisation and the wider community.” 

Huge congratulations once again to all the team at Belfast City Council.

If you have not yet joined Diversity Mark on your company’s Diversity and Inclusion journey please reach out to emma@diversity-mark-ni.co.uk to discuss the benefits and process.

You can CLICK HERE to join Diversity Mark and work towards achieving the Diversity Mark accreditation.

Belfast entrepreneur Nuala Murphy named interim Head of Business at Diversity Mark

Nuala Murphy, who joins Diversity Mark as interim Head of Business

Diversity Mark NI are delighted to announce that Belfast entrepreneur Nuala Murphy has been confirmed as interim Head of Business.

Nuala founded Lean in Belfast in 2013, the volunteer-run chapter of the non-profit group created by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. The group, which began as a small network of peers from all walks of professional life, now boasts 3,000 members across Ireland.

During lockdown last year, Nuala also set up the Women’s Investor Ready Project, a community interest group dedicated to changing the stat of investment in women entrepreneurs regionally.

She will join Diversity Mark on a 14-month basis while the firm’s current head of business Christine White, is on maternity leave.

With a commitment to building a more diverse and inclusive workplace, Diversity Mark enables organisations to identify and take action on any institutional barriers facing underrepresented groups. Founded in 2016 by Women in Business, Diversity Mark now represents 80,000 employees in Northern Ireland.

In her new role, Nuala will bring her skills and global experience in diversity and inclusion and will be focused on expanding Diversity Mark’s reach to include the rest of Ireland and the UK, helping the organisation achieve its objectives in 2021 and beyond. She will channel her passion and commitment to building a more equal society, working with companies from all sectors as they commit to advancing diversity and inclusion to benefit all employees.

Nuala said: “It is a real honour to carry on Christine’s mantle as Head of Business at Diversity Mark, an organisation that has become such a vital proponent of workplace inclusivity across Northern Ireland.

“For years I’ve been an impassioned advocate for women’s equality and have a deep commitment to creating workplaces where every person has a seat at the table and a chance to be heard. Never has there been a better time to have organisations sign up to commit to diverse and inclusive strategies and practice and I am very much looking forward to building on the momentum and success that the Diversity Mark team has achieved to date.

“I am calling on companies and those I have worked with in the past to get in touch with Diversity Mark NI to begin their diversity journey.”

In her first month in post, Nuala will be involved in a fireside chat “Emerging Stronger” with Danske Bank’s Gender Diversity Network. The event will be an honest conversation of how challenges of lockdown were overcome and how to thrive in the new normal, with Nuala talking about her experience during the past year and how it led to her taking up her new role with Diversity Mark.

If you have not yet joined Diversity Mark on your company’s Diversity and Inclusion journey please reach out to emma@diversity-mark-ni.co.uk to discuss the benefits and process.

You can CLICK HERE to join Diversity Mark and work towards achieving the Diversity Mark accreditation.

FinTrU introduces Pregnancy Loss Policy for all employees

Diversity Mark Signatory FinTrU has officially introduced a comprehensive Pregnancy Loss Policy which will be available to all employees across the company.

The FinTrU Pregnancy Loss Policy caters for both the pregnant individual and their partner in the event of a pregnancy loss. Statistics show that one in eight pregnancies can end in miscarriage, and this policy aims to support FinTrU employees in ensuring that they have the time and care they need after such a tragic event.

Sinead Carville, FinTrU Chief HR Officer

FinTrU Chief Human Resources Officer, Sinead Carville, said of the new policy “As FinTrU continues to grow, we are always looking at our employee demographic to support them in whatever way we can. Traditionally when a pregnancy loss occurs, people can feel uncomfortable speaking about it and tend to use other reasons for compassionate leave. We want to completely remove that barrier and ensure that our employees and managers are fully equipped with the knowledge, training and support they require should they encounter this devastating situation in life. Our organisation is evolving and we are always looking at ways for us to evolve as a provider for our people. FinTrU will continue to monitor and implement employee centric policies to support them in their careers as well as their personal lives.”

Should a loss of child occur, this policy will entitle the pregnant employee to two weeks of paid leave. The policy also extends to employees who are the partner of a pregnant individual who has lost a child to entitle them to one week of paid leave. This leave can be flexible to suit to needs of the individual’s recovery following a pregnancy loss event.

As the FinTrU employee demographic continues to evolve, training has been designed and will be delivered to all Line Managers. This training will focus on those who manage pregnant people and their partners, those who have lost a child, and the appropriate and careful management of the employee’s return to work.

Founded in December 2013, FinTrU is a multi‐award winning RegTech company in the Financial Services sector that is committed to giving local talent the opportunity to work on the global stage with the largest International Investment Banks. FinTrU works with clients to design solutions to help them meet their regulatory obligations in areas such as Legal, Risk, Compliance, KYC, Operations, Consultancy and Technology. FinTrU’s clients are all global Investment Banks, based in North America, Europe and Asia and the company’s business model is to provide technology enabled solutions to clients to augment and support their existing internal functions. Headquartered in Northern Ireland, FinTrU employs over 750 people across Belfast, Derry/Londonderry, London and New York. Read more about FinTrU at www.fintru.com

FinTrU recently received the Silver Diversity Mark for leading commitment to diversity and inclusion. Going forward, the aim for FinTrU is to continue to support employees to ensure that their place of work is as welcoming, supportive and open as possible.

If you have not yet joined Diversity Mark on your company’s Diversity and Inclusion journey please reach out to emma@diversity-mark-ni.co.uk to discuss the benefits and process.

You can CLICK HERE to join Diversity Mark and work towards achieving the Diversity Mark accreditation.

Diversity Mark Signatory Roundtable Event ‘Gender Balance in STEM’

Thank you to everyone that attended our recent roundtable event ‘Gender Balance in STEM’. This event gave attendees the opportunity to connect with peers from other organisations and sectors, and share ideas, challenges and good practice around achieving gender balance in the STEM sector.

Diversity Mark signatories attending ‘Gender Balance in STEM’

During the session, signatories completed a poll advising the main challenges for them to achieving gender balance within their organisation. The top three barriers were listed as:

  • Talent Pipeline -so few women interested in applying

  • Girls not studying the relevant subjects/degree not suitable

  • Male dominated environment

The great news is that we are moving the dial within STEM. Looking collectively at four IT companies that joined us in the early days, Liberty IT, Allstate NI, Learning Pool and Outsource Solutions they have jointly increased their female workforce by 27% overall and by 30% specifically in senior management positions. All four companies have grown collectively by 401 employees since they joined Diversity Mark with 47% of all new hires being female, tipping the overall gender balance collectively in favour of women by 3%.

Thank you to Frank Fleming from the Equality Commission NI for his offer to help with policies, culture audits and training. Please CLICK HERE to find out more.

Attendees came away from the session with a list of over twenty practical tips, strategies and initiatives to review and implement where possible within their organisations.

If you have not yet joined Diversity Mark on your company’s Diversity and Inclusion journey please reach out to emma@diversity-mark-ni.co.uk to discuss the benefits and process.

You can CLICK HERE to join Diversity Mark and work towards achieving the Diversity Mark accreditation.

Greiner Packaging Partner with Equality Commission to Improve Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Diversity in the workplace is high on the agenda for Greiner Packaging.  In recent months, their Northern Ireland team have taken proactive steps to champion equality, diversity, and inclusion in the manufacturing sector.

Greiner Packaging, part of the Greiner Group operates a global network of production facilities and employs 290 staff at their Northern Ireland plant in Dungannon.  The thriving business is passionate about making a positive impact in the world, from their sustainable approach to making plastic packaging recyclable, reusable, or compostable, to adopting ethical and inclusive processes to recruit, train, and manage the wellbeing of employees.

In 2019, Greiner signed up to Diversity Mark and has since achieved the robust Bronze Diversity Mark accreditation. The company’s management team identified a number of diversity and inclusion goals including updating company policies and educating and training staff on diversity and inclusion.  This process has been made easier with support from the Equality Commission in Northern Ireland.

The Equality Commission provide advice to employers to help them establish equality related policies and train staff on equality, diversity, and inclusion.  Greiner Packaging availed of this support, receiving expert advice and recommendations that enabled the manufacturing company to update their policies.  The Equality Commission also participated in training events to educate staff on the main aspects of equality legislation, definitions of discrimination, positive work environments, and other relevant diversity and inclusion issues. During the sessions, employees were briefed on their responsibilities, and the company’s action plan to meet its equality, diversity, and inclusion goals.

Diversity and Inclusion lead within Greiner Packaging, Maeve Turbitt, was grateful for the contribution made by The Equality Commission:

“The Equality Commission have been very helpful in supporting us to get everyone in our business trained on Diversity and Inclusion.  This is a target we set ourselves in the first year of gaining our Bronze Diversity Mark Award.

The Equality Commission worked with me to devise the training content and co-presented this for two sessions to approximately 90 colleagues via Teams.  They also reviewed our Equal Opportunities Policy and Positive Work Environment Policy and made recommendations accordingly so we could relaunch these in line with the training.”

During the training, the Greiner team took the opportunity to remind everyone of the Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code the company signed up to and is audited on, as well as the Greiner Code of Conduct and the Whistle Blowing Policy and phone number. Employees completed a short quiz after the training to ensure they understood the content.  Ongoing training on equality, diversity and inclusion is being rolled out in-house by Greiner’s People and Culture Team.

If your company has decided to commit to embedding equality, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace, please get in touch with our team at Diversity Mark.

The Equality Commission would also be keen to talk to you about the support they can provide.  Contact Frank Fleming at ffleming@equalityni.org for more information.

80,000 Employees To Gain Greater Inclusivity

We are delighted to announce that we recently reached a significant milestone with organisations signed up, working towards achieving and maintaining the Diversity Mark representing over 80,000 employees, with almost 40% of those companies based within the STEM sector.

Four of NI’s leading IT firms – Allstate, Learning Pool, Liberty IT and Outsource – have been accredited through Diversity Mark for over 2 years, and in that time have jointly increased their female workforce by 27% overall and by 30% specifically in senior management positions. All four companies have grown collectively by 401 employees since they joined Diversity Mark with 47% of all new hires being female, tipping the overall gender balance collectively in favour of women by 3%.

Launched in 2017 by Women in Business, Diversity Mark are now the leading authority in Diversity in the UK & Ireland and the accreditation recognises an organisation’s commitment to embracing diversity and creating an inclusive culture for all staff.

A McKinsey report published last year found that companies in the top quartile of gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to experience above-average profitability than peer companies.

Terry Moore – CEO of Outsource, Nichola Robinson – Director of Strategic Sourcing at Spirit AeroSystems and Diversity Mark Chair, Paul McElvaney – Group CEO of Learning Pool, John Healy OBE- Vice President and Managing Director of Allstate NI, Christine White – Head of Business at Diversity Mark and Willie Hamilton – Managing Director of Liberty IT.

Christine White, Head of Business at Diversity Mark, said: “We are delighted to have reached this landmark milestone representing 80,000 employees. At Diversity Mark it is our mission to platform issues around inclusivity in the workplace and create equal opportunities for all. It is well known that having a diverse workforce can unlock greater innovation within a company, driving its performance and success. We look forward to further progressing in 2022 and are delighted to work with organisations new and old throughout the UK & Ireland as they continue their exciting journeys towards greater diversity.”

John Healy OBE, Vice President and Managing Director at Allstate NI, said: “Diversity is central to everything we do, and it’s needed now more than ever in the IT sector. As the first company in Northern Ireland to receive the Silver Diversity Mark, Allstate are committed to be the catalyst for change.

“In a sector where females are underrepresented, I am delighted to see the progress Allstate and the other companies have made to address this. The frameworks and resources provided by the Diversity Mark team have been invaluable in helping us to set goals, track performance and benchmark against other organisations. Allstate’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion will help drive change and attract more females to join the IT sector.”

Paul McElvaney, Group CEO of Learning Pool, said: “Our strong commitment to diversity benefits our entire company. We recently ranked as the top indigenous company in Northern Ireland to work for, and part of this success can be attributed to our dedication to inclusion.

“Diversity Mark’s accreditation programme has helped build on this ongoing commitment to maintain an inclusive culture. We’ve made significant investments in building a flexible workplace and nurturing a culture where everyone has equal opportunity to achieve their potential in terms of career growth, pay fairness, and skill building. In the current climate, it’s more important than ever to foster this kind of experience, where people feel valued and have a voice in what they do.”

Willie Hamilton, Managing Director at Liberty IT, said: “Partnering with Diversity Mark NI to achieve our accreditation has played a key role in pushing us even further in our DEI journey. We’re growing our teams and continuing to bring diversity of talent into our organisation is critical to this.

“We’re seeing improvements in gender balance across all job families including the Executive Team, and our Women in Tech Employee Resource Group have launched mentoring circles and a buddy programme, and our Talent team have introduced coaching and toolkits to support parents and those returning from a period of leave. Our DEI Council has just been established and I am excited to partner with this group to evolve DEI even further across Liberty IT.

Terry Moore, Founder and CEO of Outsource, said: “At Outsource we have always prided ourselves on our commitment to diversity, inclusion and the general wellbeing of our staff, our participation in the Diversity Mark accreditation journey has undoubtedly accelerated and placed more structure on the senior management team’s implementation efforts.

“With the support of the Diversity Mark team, Outsource are proud to be the only Managed Service and Security Provider in NI to have been awarded the Bronze Diversity Mark but as importantly we genuinely believe that this commitment to diversity and inclusion is and will continue to be a major advantage to us as we progress with our plans for Outsource and our ground-breaking OSG Cloud solution to grow nationally and internationally. For any company that genuinely wants to grow or attract the best candidates the Diversity Mark is a fantastic way to show you are a genuinely inclusive and welcoming place to work, where skills and talents from all sections of the workforce are actively encouraged and welcome.”

To learn more about Diversity Mark Accreditations please click here.

To sign up to become a Diversity Mark Signatory please click here.

Farrans Construction Wins National Award For Stem Education Programme On South Lake Leisure Centre Project

Farrans win Diversity and Inclusion in STEM award for South Lake Leisure Centre Project

Diversity Mark signatory, Farrans Construction has been awarded a STEM Inspiration Award for Outstanding Contribution to Widening Participation, Diversity and Inclusion in STEM for its educational work carried out while on site at South Lake Leisure Centre in Craigavon.

Sponsored by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the Awards celebrate the extraordinary individuals and organisations who support learning, raise aspirations, and illuminate careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

The judges praised Farrans saying:

“While building the South Lake Leisure Centre in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, Farrans also incorporated a first-class education programme, looking to strengthen the local community and use STEM to boost children’s education and future career prospects. Lots of the activity centred on widening participation, from site visits and work experience, to engineering challenges and careers skills session. The judges praised the project as an exemplary case of building community engagement.”

Farrans Construction, a CRH company, is a leading building and civil engineering contractor with over 75 years’ experience of delivering world-class projects across the UK and Ireland. The company, which employs more than 500 people, has offices in London, Cambridge, Edinburgh, and Belfast with further site offices connecting its regional network.

Sarah Fearon, community business partner at Farrans, said: “We are extremely proud of South Lake Leisure Centre, a modern leisure facility which we delivered for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council. As a responsible business, we always look for ways to have a positive impact on the communities we are working in. Our in-house Community Business Partner team look after stakeholder management, employment and skills development, community engagement and education outreach. We always engage with our clients and supply chain to create bespoke programmes which address the needs in the local area, and we were delighted with the level of interest that our STEM programme attracted on this project.”

The winners were announced by STEM Learning at an online awards celebration hosted by Tara Shine (presenter of the 2020 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures and director of Change By Degrees) at 4pm on 20 May 2021.  The video on STEM Learning’s YouTube channel can be viewed below.

Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, Chief Executive Officer at UKRI, said: “We are delighted to be supporting these Awards that celebrate the role organisations and individuals across the economy play in showcasing the variety of STEM careers and pathways to the next generation.”

“We have seen the power that STEM has demonstrated in being able to address the huge problems that we have faced in our society and across the world in recent times.  Bringing together the necessary skills and expertise has been crucial and that is why it is so important that the STEM community is as diverse, creative, and dynamic as possible. Our personal thanks to the organisations and individuals who play an important role to support this.”

Yvonne Baker, Chief Executive of STEM Learning, added: “Despite the challenges we have all experienced this year, I am delighted that we are recognising the achievements of individuals, organisations and clubs that have continued to inspire young people virtually – and face to face when they have been able to.” 

“I am particularly pleased to celebrate the Award presented to Farrans for their outstanding contribution to widening participation, diversity and inclusion in STEM – a topic particularly close to my heart.”

A full profile of each of the winners can be found at: https://www.stem.org.uk/stem-inspiration-awards.

For more information on how individuals and employers can engage with the STEM Ambassador programme, please visit www.stem.org.uk/stem-ambassadors

You can also follow on social media at @STEMAmbassadors

Danske Bank Embed Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging into Organisational Culture

Christine White, Head of Business at Diversity Mark NI, Kevin Kingston, CEO at Danske Bank UK and Caroline van der Feltz, HR Director at Danske Bank UK
Christine White, Head of Business at Diversity Mark, Kevin Kingston, CEO at Danske Bank UK and Caroline van der Feltz, HR Director at Danske Bank UK

Caroline van der Feltz, HR Director at Danske Bank outlines the approach to embed diversity, inclusion and belonging within the organisation. Their commitment has resulted in Danske Bank being awarded the Diversity Mark Silver accreditation.

Danske Bank signed up as a Diversity Mark Signatory in January 2018 and have proved to be an organisation with a laser focus on measurement, using data and employee feedback to drive strategy and to set clear and ambitious targets around diversity, inclusion and belonging.

Caroline herself is an experienced HR Director, having spent over 25 years’ within the Financial Services, FMCG, Travel and Retail sectors. At Danske Bank UK Caroline leads the People Strategy as part of the Banks Executive Committee with Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging being a significant element of their strategy. Caroline also gives her time to be a Diversity Mark Buddy, providing guidance and expertise to new signatories.

Caroline van der Feltz, HR Director at Danske Bank discussing diversity inclusion and belonging policies.
Caroline van der Feltz, HR Director at Danske Bank

What prompted Danske Bank to join the Diversity Mark Accreditation Programme?

The Diversity Mark underpins our commitment to drive diversity, inclusion and belonging and be a force for good in Northern Ireland. The application framework enables us (and other organisations) to identify and take action on any institutional barriers facing minorities and underrepresented groups that can impact on their career progression and sense of belonging. 

How knowledgeable was Danske Bank about Diversity and Inclusion at the start?

We were knowledgeable, but are always seeking to grow and expand our knowledge base across all facets of our business to help us embed diversity, inclusion and belonging right in the heart of our culture at Danske Bank.

What have been the main benefits of participating in the Diversity Mark accreditation programme to date?

Collaborating with the fantastic Diversity Mark team to host an event as part of the Diversity and Inclusion series – ‘Disabilities, Mental Health & Belonging’, growing external diversity and inclusion networks, giving back through the Diversity Buddies Programme and participating in some fantastic webinars and diversity and inclusion events has been hugely beneficial for our team.

What have you learned on your journey so far and how has it impacted the organisation?

At Danske Bank people are at the heart of everything we do and we want to ensure that every colleague and customer feels supported, accepted and included. As part of our Danske Belong strategy we have very strong employee networks which are driven by passionate volunteers with the focus and ambition to make Danske Bank a place of work where people feel they can be their true selves. The networks have been instrumental in opening up debate, introducing new initiatives and challenging for change, and they have the full support of our senior management team. Of course, working life has transformed since the pandemic and we will continue to listen to colleague feedback, collaborate to introduce new policies or initiatives where necessary, and also step up our focus on wellbeing.

What are the next steps in the Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging journey to help you to retain the Diversity Mark accreditation?

We are continuously working on progressing our diversity, inclusion and belonging initiatives. Below are a few highlighted areas:

  • Launching our Origins Affinity Network
  • Further embedding our Belong strategy into the organisation’s culture.
  • Launching our Domestic Abuse: Support for Colleagues Policy and tangible support offerings.
  • Finalising our Suicide Awareness programme of work for colleagues and people leaders.
  • Roll out of our Belong Journal (an empowerment tool to help colleagues remove the first barrier to belonging which, in many cases, can be a conversation with their line manager on a personal, sensitive, or emotive subject to them).
  • Data collation, analysis and implementation of data informed action points.
  • The Belong Mission Statement publication and communicating to our colleagues through our Belong Hub and Belong e-booklet.

What support have you received from Diversity Mark to help you on your journey so far?

Excellent support. Diversity Mark have always been on hand to provide market analysis, best practice learnings, collaboration opportunities and networking introductions.

Would you recommend the Diversity Mark accreditation programme to other organisations?

Absolutely, and we have done so publicly in our external marketing communications, and through conversations with other businesses in the Northern Ireland market – both private and public sector.

Can you briefly summarise your experience to date on the accreditation programme?

Diversity Mark has been instrumental in enabling us to grow and expand our knowledge base across all facets of our business, to help us embed diversity, inclusion and belonging right in the heart of our culture at Danske Bank.


Find out more about the Diversity Mark Acreditation Programme.