‘The Business case for Diversity and Inclusion’ panel at Digital DNA

This week Diversity Mark hosted a panel “The business case for Diversity & Inclusion” at Northern Irelands largest tech event Digital DNA. Thanks to the fantastic panelists Gareth Quinn, Ritu Bhatt and Fergal McFerran for joining and imparting their advice, experience and practical tips to our audience. Our Interim Head of Business Nuala Murphy led the conversation. See her wrap up below.  

Nuala Murphy, Fergal McFerran, Ritu Bhatt and Gareth Quinn speaking at Digital DNA Event, Belfast.

Gareth Quinn shared the need for a diverse team to represent his diverse customers for KairosTech Solutions, a scheduling platform for elite athletes. He shared his challenges of being in tech, sports tech and how recruitment has been tough. I mentioned networks like Women of Wearables (WoW)® and connecting up with individuals such as Marija Butkovic.

We all know Gareth Quinn as founder of Digital DNA. Indeed it’s how we first met when he asked me to be on panel for marketing while I was Head of Marketing at Totalmobile Ltd. Back then Gareth understood the need to have more representation at conferences and ensured focus was placed on that each year. As someone who walks the walk when it comes to the business of Diversity and Inclusion, he shared just how tough it is and how he continually tries to do better.

Ritu Bhatt MD of iEngageIT a tech company that is diverse by nature with teams in Belfast, London, India and soon to be Belgium, shared her motivation to start brownscafe to celebrate the successes of brown and non white people in Northern Ireland and the need to inspire the younger generation. She also shared the reality that smaller businesses see D&I as an overhead but if you are thinking of building a global company you need to have D&I embedded in your culture right across the board.

Businesses need to create safe spaces for all staff to feel a sense of belonging. The business benefits are clear; better performance, higher returns, more product teams, more innovation, staff retention….the list goes on. So why is it so tough?

Fergal McFerran from Stonewall a non profit that stands for lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer, questioning and ace (LGBTQ+) people everywhere, shared how organisations are afraid to get things wrong. He suggests they listen to their staff and understand them and what they need. He also shared the importance of commitment right across the board and true collaboration with organisations and groups. What does that look like? Accepting getting things wrong is part of the process but listening and basing action on insights will see change.

As an independent assessor with Diversity Mark he talked about the importance to start on a structured journey, to focus on one or two things and do them well. Spreading yourself too thinly doesn’t bring success. Personally, as interim head at Diversity Mark I have seen a shift from “good thing to do” to “business need” when it comes to company’s trying to build more diverse teams, boards and organisations. It’s a no brainer for sure and I’m encouraged to see commitment in this area.

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 kick off Autumn Series of Events

Last week saw the launch of key events for Diversity Mark as we kicked off our autumn series of events for signatories existing and new.

Nuala Murphy, Interim Head of Business and Emma Lyttle Engagement Manager at Diversity Mark at Glandore offices Fitzwilliam Hall, Dublin.

First event was the Meet the Team hosted by Nuala Murphy Interim Head of Business and Emma Lyttle, Engagement Manager.

Thank you to everyone that attended. The purpose of the session was to give our signatories the opportunity to meet with the team and for us to understand how we can support you each on your diversity and inclusion journeys. Noting each organisation is starting from a different place but understanding the power of learning and sharing together.

Through the breakout rooms we learned the top challenges for businesses right now and discussed active ways to navigate challenges in recruitment, flexible working and aspirations for building more diverse teams, organisations and businesses.

The event covered the Diversity Mark accreditation process and laid out the numerous steps to achieving the different stages. It also provided the opportunity for signatories to break out into small groups to discuss their industry and organisational challenges as well as a safe space to ask for help of other organisations further down their journey. Key suggestions were around language used in recruitment adds to ensure inclusion and attraction of more females in tech, and the use of the Gender bias decoder and Finding subtle bias in job ads

Discussion around the gender pay gap as well as bias and awareness training for all managers in an organisation wanted to build a more equal workplace. Do check out the Women In the Workplace 2021 report launched with Lean In and McKinsey on Monday past for more on this.

We ended the week with the first Diversity Mark round table at our Dublin office Glandore 25-27, Fitzwilliam Hall, Dublin, D2.

A Coffee Power Hour it sure was as we welcomed industry peers for an introduction to Diversity Mark as well as an opportunity to hear what is pressing for their organisations, community groups and business practices. Connecting people and educating on all areas of diversity created a wonderful safe environment to understand the key concerns and opportunities that we as the awarding body of the Diversity Mark Accreditation can instigate change. We look forward to hosting monthly meetings and would love to see you there and have some exciting partnerships to announce very soon. Sign up to our newsletter and be the first to know. Click here to sign up

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.

AMS named winner of 2021 ‘Diversity & Inclusion’ Awards Northern Ireland

AMS who hold the Silver Diversity Mark Accreditation has been awarded the ‘Diversity & Inclusion’ Award at the 2021 Responsible Business Awards in Northern Ireland. The Award is one of 11 Awards categories that form part of Business in the Community’s annual recognition event that recognises and rewards firms in Northern Ireland that are embracing the journey to build better workforces, create a sustainable economy and healthy communities.

Winners in all eleven responsible business categories were announced at a hybrid Awards event, hosted in-studio by TV and weather presenter Barra Best and broadcast live across Business in the Community’s digital platforms.

The Awards take place every year and in 2021 the event was run in partnership with JP Corry, SPAR and Department for Communities, and in association with Ulster Business and U105.

Kieran Harding, Managing Director of Business in the Community Northern Ireland pictured with Marcella McKeever, Head of Centre Belfast, AMS, winners of the Diversity & Inclusion Award at the 2021 Responsible Business Awards in Northern Ireland.

Marcella McKeever, Head of Centre, AMS Belfast commented on the news of this award, “We are delighted to have won this award and be recognised as an organisation that is committed to the diversity, inclusivity and wellbeing of our people.  We strive to enable our people to succeed in a truly diverse and inclusive environment. Our employee led working groups work tirelessly to initiate change internally and are visibly engaged in supporting our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) ambitions across all areas including social mobility, ethnicity, disability, cognitive diversity, LGBT+ and wellbeing. Our DE&I framework embeds our company culture promoting the value of difference and conscious inclusion, empowering our people who are passionate about equality and mutual respect for others.”

Kieran Harding, Managing Director, Business in the Community remarked: “Congratulations to each of the winning organisations for leading the way in responsible business. This year has been really challenging for a lot of businesses and people in Northern Ireland, so I want to thank our winning, and highly commended and shortlisted organisations for continuing to make responsible business action a priority. The judging process of the Awards is robust, and the standard of entries was phenomenally high this year. All winners demonstrated true leadership in the area of responsible business and their entries are sure to inspire others in their own responsible business journey.”

Huge congratulations to all the team at AMS on this fantastic achievement.

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.

Cleaver Fulton Rankin awarded Bronze Diversity Mark in recognition of its commitment to Diversity & Inclusion

In recognition of Cleaver Fulton Rankin’s commitment to diversity and Inclusion, the firm has been awarded the Bronze Diversity Charter Mark by Diversity Mark.

Diversity Mark is the awarding body in the UK and Ireland for the Diversity Mark Accreditation. The Bronze Award is awarded to organisations following an independent assessment to demonstrate the required standard of commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion. The bronze journey begins with setting three gender diversity targets which reflect the organisation’s aspirations, demonstrates commitment to focusing on gender diversity, drives growth and continuous improvement, and promotes a diverse and inclusive environment.  

Upon receiving the award, a process of annual review takes place with a full assessment each year, where an independent panel reviews progress made and provides feedback on an organisation’s diversity and inclusion journey. Organisations can progress through their journey by demonstrating evidence of significant measurable progress against all targets.

Cleaver Fulton Rankin is currently working towards three key targets, with a Diversity and Inclusion Committee in place to drive forward the firm’s targets, to identify further growth opportunities, innovate and impact positively on business performance.

Kerri Bradley, HR Director at Cleaver Fulton Rankin commented, “Achieving the Bronze Charter Mark has been an important milestone in our diversity and inclusion journey. At Cleaver Fulton Rankin, we are committed to encouraging a positive working environment and in identifying opportunities for continuous progression. This award will help guide us on our journey towards maximising a diverse and inclusive workplace.

We have set three important targets and look forward to progressing with these and achieving our goals as a team, to become the most welcoming and inclusive company we can be.”

Nuala Murphy, Interim Head of Business at Diversity Mark added: “We are delighted to recognise Cleaver Fulton Rankin for their commitment to Diversity by awarding them the Bronze Diversity Mark accreditation. Our independent assessment panel commended Cleaver Fulton Rankin on a very impressive application which evidenced a maturity of thinking and a comprehensive list of actions to take forward with each target. The submission contained an engaging vision statement and clear ambition to progress diversity and inclusion in the organisation, linking this to service provision, internal morale and feelings of dignity in the workplace. 

We congratulate everyone at Cleaver Fulton Rankin on this achievement and look forward to working with them on their Diversity journey over the next number of 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.

FinTrU awarded the Silver Diversity Mark for their commitment to diversity and inclusion

FinTrU is delighted to announce that the company has been awarded the Silver Diversity Mark for its continued commitment to 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. FinTrU is one of seven organisations in Northern Ireland to have been awarded the Silver Diversity Mark out of 90 organisations.

Darragh McCarthy, Founder & CEO

Speaking of the achievement, FinTrU Founder & CEO, Darragh McCarthy said “FinTrU’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is unwavering as we continue to grow as a company. We want all employees to have a sense of belonging at FinTrU and to be their true selves at work. I am very proud of the teams, committees and leaders at FinTrU who have brought our diversity and inclusion commitment to life with their dedication to events, education and engagement. Our goal is to continue to be a leading employer in Northern Ireland and we are steadfastly focused on ensuring our company provides everyone with the opportunity to be comfortable at their workplace and excel in their careers.”

Diversity Mark’s independent panel commended FinTrU for succeeding the target for Gender diversity at entry level, commitment to female development at all levels, employee centric response to BAME related matters, and the continued efforts in educating employees on issues affecting those within both BAME and LQBTQ+ communities. They have recognised FinTrU’s diversity and inclusion efforts as exemplary and noted that as a leading organisation in Northern Ireland, they can be at the forefront of influencing others to follow their lead.

Christine White, Head of Business at Diversity Mark addedWe congratulate everyone at FinTrU on their innovative and progressive approach and we look forward to supporting them on their Diversity and Inclusion journey over the coming years.”

Sinead Carville, Chief Human Resources Officer

FinTrU Chief Human Resources Officer, Sinead Carville, added “We are very proud of this recognition and we want to acknowledge the fantastic work that our employees have put in to create a welcoming environment for all people. We strongly believe that giving our people a voice to drive employee engagement in this area has led to this recognition. FinTrU is extremely committed to diversity and inclusion as a means to support our employees. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it also plays an imperative role in the successes achieved by our people at FinTrU.”

With the Silver Diversity Mark achieved, FinTrU’s target moves towards Gold recognition. There are currently no organisations in Northern Ireland with the Gold Diversity Mark and FinTrU will continue to strive to demonstrate this standard.

Once again huge congratulations to all the team at FinTrU on being awarded the Silver Diversity Mark.

You can read more about Diversity Mark Accreditations here.

You can learn more about FinTrU’s commitment to diversity here.

Danske Bank announces CEO transition

UK Chief Executive, Kevin Kingston and Current Deputy CEO, Vicky Davies at Diversity Mark signatory Danske Bank.

Diversity Mark Silver accredited Danske Bank UK Chief Executive, Kevin Kingston, has decided to retire later this year. Current Deputy CEO, Vicky Davies, will then take up the position, subject to regulatory approval.

Chair of the Bank’s Board, Gerald Gregory, said:

“As CEO Kevin has made a huge contribution to the strategic and cultural development of the Bank. His personal commitment and strong leadership has further strengthened Danske Bank’s leading position in Northern Ireland. His decision to announce his planned retirement now allows for a period of transition. The Board looks forward to working with Vicky in her new capacity over the years ahead.”

Kevin Kingston said:

“It is of course with mixed emotions that I announce my intention to step down as Chief Executive by the end of the year. Now that we are hopefully through the worst of the pandemic, and looking toward a brighter future, the timing feels right. It has been a privilege and an honour to lead the Bank over the past six years and to work with so many inspirational colleagues. When I do leave, I know that Vicky and our strong local management team will continue to prioritise customer experience, while retaining a strategic focus on growing the business for the future.”  

Vicky Davies (45) will become the first female chief executive in the Bank’s 200-year history.

A Cambridge graduate, she started her career as a management consultant at Accenture in London. After gaining her MBA at the renowned INSEAD business school in France, Vicky joined Ulster Bank in 2005.

She moved on to become part of Danske Bank’s senior management team in 2012, initially as Head of Business Development, then becoming Managing Director of Strategy & Corporate Development. She joined the Board of Danske Bank UK in 2016, becoming its first ever female executive director. In 2019 she was appointed Deputy CEO. Vicky is also a Board member at the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Proud of her Welsh roots, Vicky has lived in Northern Ireland for sixteen years, is married to a Northern Irishman and has four young sons.

Vicky Davies said:

“Under Kevin’s leadership Danske Bank UK has undergone a significant transformation, and as part of his leadership team I am extremely proud of all we have accomplished. I would like to thank him for the support he has given me over the past six years.

“I am both humbled and delighted be CEO designate. As we look ahead with optimism, I firmly believe Northern Ireland will grow again and that Danske Bank will have a central role to play in the recovery. As the biggest bank in Northern Ireland we are well positioned to continue to support our customers, to be there when they need us and to help them realise their ambitions.”

Congratulations to Vicky from the Diversity Mark team.

Click here to find out more about the Diversity Mark accreditation programme.

Does Your Business Welcome and Support Autistic Employees?

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

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

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

What is Autism?

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

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

Autism Training and Support for Employers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learning Pool awarded ‘World Class’ accreditation for exemplary employee engagement

Best Companies, the leading specialists in team engagement, has awarded Learning Pool a 3-star accreditation for employee engagement. As the highest accreditation achievable, this signifies that the company ranks as having ‘world class’ levels of workplace engagement. 

Accreditations from Best Companies are the recognized standard in employee engagement. Working with some of the world’s best-known brands, Best Companies measures, improves and recognizes great employee engagement and compiles annual ‘Best Companies to Work For’ lists for organizations such as The Sunday Times and Business Insider. 

Signifying ‘world class’ levels of employee engagement, the Best Companies 3-star accreditation is the highest standard achievable and is awarded to organizations that truly excel. 

Following a year of continued growth, including the recent acquisition of Colorado-based LMS specialists, Remote Learner, the 3-star accreditation for 2021 is an improvement on Learning Pool’s previous 2-star rating. 

The accreditation is a welcome triumph in light of the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic which saw Learning Pool staff adjust to a remote working environment, almost overnight. Louise McElvaney, Director of People and Performance said: “Obtaining the top accreditation from Best Companies during a particularly challenging time is a tremendous achievement. Our team, which has grown to over 260 colleagues over the last 12 months, is the engine behind our sustained success and continued growth.” She added, “we’re blown away by the positive feedback we received during this year’s employee engagement survey.”

Throughout 2020, Learning Pool hired 50 new employees across its six office locations and has outlined plans to recruit a further 100 people in the next 12 months to fulfil the company’s plans of expansion. 

Learning Pool’s CEO, Ben Betts also commented: “We’re thrilled with the results of this year’s Best Companies survey. Accreditations like these reaffirm our commitment to ensuring a positive and open working environment and provides colleagues with an open channel to offer suggestions on how we can improve.” He continued, “our colleagues throughout the business have astonished us all year with their continued focus and enthusiasm, despite the obvious challenges they’ve been living through. It’ll be great to see what developments come in the next 12 months off the back of the feedback received. We’re already a great place to work. But we can be even better.” 

Congratulations to all the team at Learning Pool from Diversity Mark.