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.

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.

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.

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:

christine@diversity-mark-ni.co.uk 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.

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.