The independent assessment panel

Our independent assessors bring a highly robust standard to the accreditation process. The panel of business experts are all incredibly passionate about being involved in making a positive impact on our economy and society through diversity.

The experience to guide your business

The panel is made up of vastly experienced independent assessors who each have an array of sector knowledge and real world experience across diversity and inclusion, implementing best practices and seeing the positive results first hand, time and time again.

Once your companies has successfully achieved a Bronze level accreditation mark, you will be permitted to nominate candidates to sit on the review panel.

Judith Gillespie CBE

Former Deputy Chief Constable, PSNI

Judith served as a police officer in Northern Ireland for 32 years, making history by becoming the first woman in RUC/PSNI to become an Assistant Chief Constable in 2004. As a Chief Officer for 11 years, she helped steer the organisation through significant change, including leading on the PSNI’s Gender Action Plan. On leaving PSNI in 2014 she became an independent leadership advisor. She served for four years on the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, for five years on the Garda Policing Authority, and for six years on Probation Board for Northern Ireland.

Deborah Lange

Board Member Invest NI & Belfast Harbour Commission

Deborah is a Certified Public Accountant with a lengthy career in international business and tax.  She was Senior Vice President of Tax at Oracle Corporation in California for 20 years and before that worked in public accounting in London, Hong Kong and the U.S.  Deborah is passionate about maximising every person’s potential through promoting diversity, equality and inclusion.

Kieran Harding

Managing Director at Business in the Community

Kieran has been with Business in the Community since 1990 taking on the role of Managing Director in January 2011 and has since played a leading role in the organisation’s growth, and been instrumental in championing the responsible business agenda in Northern Ireland.

Fergal McFerran

Policy and Public Affairs Manager

Fergal is the Policy and Public Affairs Manager for the Children’s Law Centre; Northern Ireland’s leading children’s human rights centre. Prior to this he worked for Stonewall – the leading LGBTQ+ rights organisation – where he was responsible for supporting a wide range of employers to shape truly LGBTQ+ inclusive workplaces.

As Chair of the People and Culture Committee at the National Children’s Bureau, an advisory reference group member for the public policy Think Tank, Pivotal and former President of Northern Ireland’s National Union of Students, Fergal has extensive experience in driving change in a variety of settings.

Joanne Kelly

Executive Coach & Leadership Consultant

Joanne is a highly experienced executive coach & leadership consultant, who specialises in impactful women’s leadership development. She has over twenty years’ experience, which includes successful delivery of executive education programmes for the William J. Clinton Leadership Institute at Queen’s University Belfast. Joanne is a passionate advocate for advancing diversity and inclusion, through coaching and facilitation of strategic gender diversity programmes to catalyse cultural change.

Furthermore, Joanne has significant proven experience as an assessor with various awarding bodies, supporting the achievement of robust quality standards. She is currently working part-time for Emergenetics International and developing her women centred coaching consultancy.

Jill Michael

HR Director at


Talent Manager at A&L Goodbody is an experienced Talent Manager with over 15 years’ experience within the fields of Law, Financial Services, Oil and Gas, and Engineering. Currently at A&L Goodbody she leads the Talent Strategy in NI working closely with the partnership. At A&L Goodbody, Diversity and Inclusion is about respecting, valuing, and fostering the differences that exist in our people, and the domestic and international markets in which we do business. Culture is based on collaboration and creating an environment where all can belong. Our D&I guiding principles are, Be Kind, Be Curious, Be Brave and Be Accountable, and through these we are committed to ensuring that everyone is treated with respect, fairness and integrity.

Jonathan Patel

Consultant at Aspiring Solicitors

Jonathan is a consultant for Aspiring Solicitors, the UK’s largest legal diversity platform. Having previously worked as a solicitor, Jonathan works with students and law firms to increase diversity in the legal profession through events, mentoring schemes and work experience opportunities. Jonathan was the first in his family to attend university and completed a history degree at Trinity College Dublin, before completing the GDL and LPC. 

Throughout his training contract and on qualification as a BAME solicitor, Jonathan witnessed the relatively small number of other BAME solicitors working in the City and joined Aspiring Solicitors to help address this and inspire other underrepresented groups to join the legal profession.

Emma Patterson Bennett

Portfolio Manager, Inclusion at BBC Northern Ireland

Emma is the Portfolio Manager, Inclusion at BBC Northern Ireland. Emma works to ensure Diversity & Inclusion best practice is embedded across the organisation and supports the leadership team to deliver effective cultural change. Previously Equality & Diversity Manager at the Education Authority providing advice and guidance on all aspects of equality, diversity and inclusion. Emma developed the first Gender Action Plan for the organisation including designing and leading on the award-winning EA Menopause Workplace Policy.

Emma has worked for CAJ where her focus was strategically working to effect change on critical equality and social justice issues through the use of the statutory equality duty. Also part of the BrexitLawNI Project identifying the human rights and equality aspects of the EU exit for Northern Ireland. Emma has also been involved in promoting and delivering gender equality through the use of human rights and equality mechanisms for the last 10 years.

Emma McIlveen

Barrister specialising in Employment Law

Emma is a first-generation barrister who primarily specialises in employment law. She has a special interest in pregnancy discrimination and vulnerable claimants. Prior to qualifying as a barrister, she was a Kennedy scholar at Harvard University. She now publishes a monthly employment law newsletter known as McIlveen on Employment and was a co-founder of an Advanced Employment Course at the Institute for Professional Legal Studies. In 2021, she was shortlisted for a Next100Years Inspirational Women in Law award and recently completed a global leadership programme delivered by Cambridge University.

Alongside her employment practice, she serves as an independent assessor for the Commissioner of Public Appointments and serves as a Non-Executive Lay member on NI Practice & Education Council for Nursing & Midwifery. Outside of the Bar, she is a mother of three and is passionate about social mobility and advocating on behalf of working mothers.

Sorcha Diver

Risk & Compliance at Allstate NI

Sorcha led technology and security teams at Allstate before heading up Risk & Compliance and Administrative Services, including responsibility for business conduct and ethics. She is involved in a number of diversity and inclusion initiatives across the business and is a member of the IDE steering group. She is Chair of the Board of Governors of Lough View Integrated PS and is a board member of the Integrated Education Fund. Sorcha is passionate about all areas of diversity and inclusion.

Dr Nazia Latif

Human Rights and Equality Specialist at Right Practice

Nazia has extensive experience of working on human rights, equality and diversity in NI and internationally. A highly experienced trainer and researcher, she believes in empowering communities through genuine engagement and collaboration.  She worked for the NI Human Rights Commission for 13 years where she led a number of systemic investigations of international significance, including In Defence of Dignity, an investigation into the human rights of older people in nursing homes. 

Nazia currently runs Right Practice and specialises in providing practical assistance to organisations in the public, private and voluntary sector to initiate and manage change in order to improve service delivery and internal management. Her focus is on helping organisations meet their human rights and equality obligations. Nazia is a Non-Executive Director on the Health and Social Care Board and a member of the NI Committee of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust.

Photo: Steve Langan

Dr Dale Whelehan

Chief Executive Officer of 4 Day Week Global

Dale is a Behaviour Scientist and Chief Executive Officer graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a diverse range of experience comprising human capital, change management, culture, workforce experience, performance consulting, higher education policy, representation and rights, healthcare systems and quality assurance.

He is Chief Executive Officer of 4 Day Week Global. This is a not-for-profit community established to provide a platform for like-minded people who are interested in supporting the idea of the 4 day week as a part of the future of work. The company to date has been involved in supporting international pilot studies exploring the feasibility of reduced working hours across different sectors and jurisdictions. The campaign has been hugely successful, and identified by leading trends, such as Forbes, as one of the most promising changes for 2023. 

Photo: Steve Langan

Dermot Devlin

My Way Access & Disability Strategy for Northern Ireland Co-Design Group

Dermot is employed at Omagh Enterprise, with a lengthy career is business and ICT mentoring. He is Chairperson of Omagh Access Forum and Vice-Chairperson of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council’s Disability Advisory Group. Dermot is the Equality and Inclusion Trainer for CRAICNI and is the Convenor of People, Streets and Places Working Group for IMTAC.

Dermot is passionate about rights and inclusion for disabled people across all sections of the community, and maximising every person’s potential through promoting diversity, equality and inclusion.

Photo: Steve Langan

Andy George 

President of the National Black Police Association (NBPA)

Andy George is the current President of the National Black Police Association (NBPA) in the United Kingdom and a serving police officer in the Police Service of Northern Ireland. The NBPA aims to create a police service that represents, engages and delivers its services to all communities in a fair and equitable manner. In his role, Andy represents around 5000 members in just under 50 local associations across the UK. As President, Andy works to ensure members receive the best possible support, liaises with senior leaders and wider national stakeholders and engages with community groups from ethnically diverse backgrounds. 

Andy advises the National Police Chiefs Council, College of Policing, Independent Office of Police Complaints and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire Service on racial equality, system change and police accountability. He also meets regularly with government officials such as the Home Secretary and other key figures who are responsible for policing. Andy spent the first 8 years of his policing career in a local policing team before moving to the Armed Response Unit, for 10 years, where he was an Operational Firearms Commander. He is now a Chief Inspector spending the majority of his time completing NBPA duties.

Photo: Steve Langan

Will Young 

Director of HR in the Northern Ireland Civil Service

Will is an experienced HR/OD Executive Director and Senior Leader, having worked in the public, private, community and voluntary sectors for over 30 years. He is a passionate people, leadership, organisation, workforce development consultant and a professional executive and team coach.  

He has a successful track record of leading and implementing senior leadership and OD initiatives at a systems level across the public, community and voluntary sectors, focusing on enhanced personal, team and organisational effectiveness to affect cultural change and transformation. A strategic thinker, visionary and compassionate leader and is currently the Director of HR in the Northern Ireland Civil Service, with responsibility for Employee Relations, Occupational Health, Wellbeing & Welfare Services and Learning & Development. He is an enthusiastic voluntary Board Director/Trustee in a number of local charities and an active member of the CIPD Branch Committee in Northern Ireland.

Photo: Steve Langan

Michele Larmour

 International Strategic Advisor, Leadership & Change Coach

Michele is a change and leadership consultant, with international police advisory expertise. She excels in strategic consulting on critical leadership challenges and transformational change, leveraging her extensive leadership experience to help others shape change agendas, manage risk and work collaboratively. With 31 years in UK policing, including a role as Assistant Chief Constable, she successfully led business change in West Midlands Police, achieving efficiencies despite resource challenges. As an adept coach, mentor and facilitator, she actively contributes to leadership development and advocates for diversity. She is an Associate Coach with Queens University and a Diversity Mark Assessor. Michele is also Chair of the NI Ambulance Service and Police Rehabilitation and Retraining Trust, Vice Chair of the NI Public Sector Forum and Ireland Vice Chair of Washington Ireland Program, fostering positive change and impact in these organisations.

Photo: Steve Langan

Don Leeson

Labour Relations Agency’s Chief Executive

Don Leeson has been the Labour Relations Agency’s Chief Executive since 2020, having previously been its Director of Corporate Services.  He earlier worked as a senior manager at the Agency between 2011 and 2013, managing the Agency’s arbitration services and facilitating collective conciliations and mediations.

Outside of the Agency, Don has had a varied career. He was the Consumer Council’s Director of Operations (2013-17); Head of Corporate Services for the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (2004-11); and the Equality Commission’s Head of Disability Policy (2002-04).

Prior to moving to Belfast, Don was Investors in People UK’s Quality Manager, with responsibility for quality assurance and development of the IiP standard.  It was while in this role he developed a passion for organisational development and good employment practice.  

Don has also been a Civil Servant working in Westminster on employment-related issues.He has an MSc in Managing Change and is a Chartered Fellow of CIPD.

Don is the Chair of the boards of two charities: ESC Films, an award winning film therapy organisation working with highly marginalised people; and the Imagine Festival of Ideas and Politics. He is a keen traveller and an avid follower of football, well Grimsby Town at least!

Ignoring or dismissing D&I will have a negative impact on your business as the world continues to commit to progress

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“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”

Paul McElvaney, Group CEO of Learning Pool

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