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.

Silver Diversity Mark for Liberty IT

Cathy Donnelly, Senior Director of Talent at Liberty IT and Willie Hamilton Managing Director of Liberty IT – awarded Silver Diversity Mark

Belfast-based Liberty IT has been ranked third in the ‘Best Workplaces for Women 2021’ listing by Great Place to Work UK and has been awarded a Silver Diversity Mark.

The digital innovation firm is one of only seven organisations in Northern Ireland to achieve the Silver Diversity Mark accreditation, for its commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Diversity Mark awarded this accolade to Liberty IT following the company’s work across a number of programmes, resulting in an increased number of females at entry and executive level; and enhanced awareness and learning through the roll out of their Pride Allyship sessions and company-wide Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Programme.

Willie Hamilton, Managing Director of Liberty IT said: “At Liberty IT our employees are at the heart of everything we do. We aspire to be a company where everyone feels included and that they belong, one that values diversity, not only in our words but in our actions, bringing our values to life every day.

“We are incredibly proud to have been awarded a Silver Diversity Mark and it’s testament to the work we have been carrying out for a number of years to ensure we lead the way in diversity and inclusion in the workplace. It’s recognition for our people, our Employee Resource Groups and leaders for all the great work they have completed, and continue to carry out, in our journey for the promotion of equitable opportunities for all.”

Cathy Donnelly, Senior Director of Talent added: “DEI is core within Liberty IT’s culture and we’re delighted to be recognised with two award wins in this area. As we are well aware, Northern Ireland has an under-representation of women working in STEM. However, at Liberty IT we are working hard to address this issue and to encourage female applications from entry level roles and above, as well as developing our highly-talented female engineers.

“We have introduced a number of initiatives including a female only scholarship, female representation on all interview panels and recruitment centres and have launched Mentoring Circles to help give female engineers at all levels the tools to realise and achieve their goals and aspirations,” she continued.

“We have lots of exciting things to come in the weeks and months ahead which will further reinforce our dedication to gender equality. This includes launching a Family Toolkit, which offers individual coaching for team members returning from extended leave, transitioning back to work.”

Huge congratulations to all the team at Liberty IT!

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.

NI Water awarded Bronze Diversity Mark for the third year running

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

Sara Venning, CEO at NI Water, commented:

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

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

Christine White, Head of Diversity Mark, added:

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

Ms Venning concluded:

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

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

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

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

Find out more about the Diversity Mark Acreditation Programme.

Encirc Champion Equality Diversity and Inclusion in Manufacturing

Bottle manufacturer Encirc Champion Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the Manufacturing sector.

Launched in Northern Ireland in 1998, Encirc manufacture over four billion glass containers each year for some of the world’s leading food and beverage brands. In addition to their NI operation in Derrylin, Fermanagh, they have two other sites in England and Italy, and employ over 1,500 people across the business. The company is owned by world-leading glass manufacturer, The Vidrala Group.

Encirc is renowned for leading the way in responsible operations, with sustainability at the heart of the business. The company endeavours to protect natural resources and the environment, minimise wastage and emissions, while promoting safe and ethical working practices. Supporting employees’ learning and development, their health and wellbeing, and instilling the key pillars of honesty, transparency, and equality in team members are core values of the organisation.

Getting Started on the Diversity Mark Accreditation Programme

Fiacre O'Donnell,  Director of Sustainability at Vidrala explains why Encirc joined the Diversity Mark accreditation programme and shares some insights on the first steps they’ve taken in their journey
Fiacre O’Donnell

Fiacre O’Donnell, Director of Sustainability at Vidrala explains why Encirc joined the Diversity Mark accreditation programme and shares some insights on the first steps they’ve taken in their journey.

“Encirc needs to be a great place to work for everyone, regardless of their background or demographic. By joining the Diversity Mark accreditation programme in January 2020, we were able to get some valuable guidance on how best to integrate equality, diversity, and inclusive practices into our business.

With the company executive promoting the EDI programme, we were able to push on with our plans to build a progressive workplace. Initially, one of the challenges was to get individuals to put themselves forward for roles in our new Network Committee. We knew early on that we needed to work on our messaging so that everyone fully understands that equality, diversity, and inclusion policies and activities benefit the business, and all employees.  Everyone has an important part to play in making Encirc a great place to work.”

Project 1: Encirc Women’s Network

To progress the plans to develop an internal women’s network which would support and champion gender equality across Encirc, the company advertised the roles and were delighted to see five women in the business step up to form a committee. 

Kate Lynch, Operations Manager at Encirc and Chair of the company’s Women’s Network champions gender equality within the workplace.
Kate Lynch

Kate Lynch, Operations Manager at Encirc and Chair of the company’s Women’s Network explained that three projects had been identified by the original committee.  The first of these focused on establishing an internal network to champion gender diversity in the workplace.

“Manufacturing has an obvious and visible issue with gender diversity, but also a skills shortage.  We’re passionate about seeing more women in manufacturing and developed a series of interviews with female members of our team known as Women with Bottle.” 



The plans included hosting a launch event in December 2020, followed by a cultural survey to explore perceptions, and a series of workshops. The cultural survey has now been completed with employees and the next step is to roll out the workshops to address the issues identified and develop action plans. These sessions will be guided by Stephanie Reid from Business in the Community (BITC) and will be attended by both males and females from across the group. 

The team also organised a virtual conference at the start of March to coincide with International Womens’ Day celebrations, with well-known gender diversity advocate, Michelle King, author of ‘The Fix’ joining as the guest speaker. 

Going forward, the Women’s Network will work closely with the project leads of the additional two schemes in the pipeline to bring those to life.

Project 2: HOCAM

The Encirc HOCAM (Helping Our Communities Achieve More) programme is next on the agenda.  This is an outreach programme to the communities around the business and has been developed in partnership with BITC.

Project 3: More Women in Manufacturing

The third project will focus on Women in Manufacturing, exploring opportunities to attract more females to apply for positions within the company.

Encirc is working closely with Business in the Community (BITC) and Diversity Mark in all of these areas, and although only at the start of their journey, it is going well so far.

Building The Structures for Success

Fiacre and the team feel that to really embed equality, diversity and inclusion principles and activities at every level and location within the organisation, a good structure is required, along with motivated individuals to bring it to life. He adds that those individuals need to receive support from senior members of the company’s management team.  It’s vital to be available to offer support and keep everyone motivated, especially when any negativity is noted.

Fiacre and the newly developed Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion teams recognise that the journey will not be without obstacles and some adversity will be experienced because this programme can be seen as challenging the norm. One of the early learnings has been recognising the need to be careful with the wording used to convey the organisations messages around equality, diversity, and inclusion, to enable employees to recognise that it is not a female only programme.  Gender diversity is just one aspect of a much wider set of values that the organisation subscribes to which make up their overall Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Charter.

Making a Difference

Helen Rose, Integrated Business Planning Manager at Encirc, and Vice Chair of the Women’s Network is excited about the future positive impact of their equality, diversity, and inclusion projects on Encirc’s people, and the company as a whole.
Helen Rose

Discussing the value of the programme to the organisation, Helen Rose, Integrated Business Planning Manager at Encirc, and Vice Chair of the Women’s Network is excited about the future positive impact of their equality, diversity, and inclusion projects on Encirc’s people, and the company as a whole.

“Already, I see a real sense of purpose, not only amongst the main network committee but with others close to it.  I see great levels of participation in activities and a shared ambition to create a more inclusive workplace.  These activities are outside of the ‘normal’ duties of everyone’s role and are about self (not just business) development.  It’s very encouraging to see people step up and support the process, and challenge more traditional perceptions and opinions. “

The team at Diversity Mark are excited about continuing to support Encirc on their journey and sharing the progress of the team in the coming months.

Find out more about joining the Diversity Mark Accreditation programme.