The Herald & GenAnalytics Diversity Award 2023 winners

There were plaudits last night for inspiring individuals and organisations as the winners were announced of the Herald & GenAnalytics Diversity Awards 2023.

The annual event celebrates outstanding progress towards the goal of breaking down barriers and amongst those stepping up to the stage in DoubleTree by Hilton in Glasgow to receive recognition for their achievements, were the University of Stirling’s Stand By Me inclusive research team, whose work on the impact of dementia on couples with learning difficulties earned them the Diversity Through Education Award.

The judges were impressed by the way in which the team, which included members with learning difficulties, explored lived experiences and dispelled long-held misconceptions about what happens if dementia becomes an issue.

During the evening, host Eilidh Barbour welcomed representatives from commercial firms, educational institutions, charities, and the public sector as they joined together to hear the winners announced.

What became clear as the event unfolded was that there are impactful efforts underway across Scottish society to redress the balance and ensure that the needs and ambitions of everyone can be met.

This was made very clear in the Diversity in the Public Sector Award category, which was won by Lothian Buses for their partnership with the Royal National Institute for the Blind, which has provided drivers with a greater understanding into the challenges of using public transport that people with sight loss face on a daily basis.

And it was equally apparent in the Diversity in Sport category, sponsored by sportscotland, which was shared between the University of Strathclyde for its pioneering Trans and Non-Binary Swim Sessions, which are open not just to staff and students but also to people in the wider community, and the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships, which set out to be a catalyst for change.

Through measures, such as integrated para cycling and making the women’s race the event finale – a first for any world championship – they were striving to make cycling accessible and appealing to everyone.

The 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships were also named winners of the Design for Diversity Award, sponsored by BAE Systems, thanks to an approach that included producing Planning for Inclusion Guidelines for each of the event’s partners, creating a fund to target people who have been traditional marginalised from cycling, and working with local community groups including the deaf cycling community at Glentress.

For its Together Against Racism Campaign, which was aimed at preventing all forms of racism from happening on campus, the University of Glasgow won the Diversity Campaign of the Year, sponsored by Arnold Clark.

The campaign was driven and developed in partnership with students and colleagues and it was used as a teaching concept in the Adam Smith Business School, an innovative approach to a real-time social marketing campaign that ensured students on the course were able to take a theoretical approach to a current issue at the University.

The Diversity in Net-Zero Leadership Award, sponsored by Crown Estate Scotland, was a new award for 2023 and the winner was HVS, creators of a ground-breaking hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle.

Their new approach to creating a hydrogen-powered vehicle has transformed the way in which the industry views sustainable transportation, with a level of forward thinking that will not only reduce environmental impact but will create long-term job opportunities.

The company has also doubled the number of women within its organisation to 18%, helping to create an environment that thrives on different backgrounds, faiths, ages and experience.

It wasn’t just companies, but individuals too who were recognised last night and the winner of the Diversity Hero of the Year Award, sponsored by Diageo, was Gillian Higgin, a specialist in neurodiversity coaching, whose work with many organisations, including the Royal Society of Chemistry, is leading to better support and understanding in the workplace for neurodiverse employees.

Meanwhile Stripe Communications were named Diversity and Inclusion Champion (1-250 employees) for their research into the PR industry which revealed that nine out of 10 practitioners are white and that senior positions are dominated by men.

Through a data-driven approach, Stripe has aimed to transform its own workforce and it has instigated a number of successful recruitment programmes as well as supporting the next generation of LGBT+ communicators through its Rainbow Mentoring programme.

The Diversity and Inclusion Champion (250+ employees) was named as Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP who have taken great strides in promoting social mobility, achieving greater gender diversity, supporting LGBTQ colleagues, younger employees and creating greater awareness on disability and racial inclusion.

And finally, the first ever winner of the Lynne Connolly Achievement in Diversity Award, created in memory of the late abrdn Global Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, who died earlier this year, went to The Glasgow Barons, the Govan-based initiative that uses music to break down socio economic barriers and give a voice to residents, community groups, school children and asylum-seekers in the local area.

Afterwards, Lynne McBurney, Arnold Clark Group Head of People said: ‘It was a wonderful evening and fantastic to see so many companies showing a commitment to creating more diverse and inclusive workplaces. Listening to the accomplishments of everyone shortlisted has been inspiring, and I’d like to congratulate the winners – especially those in our ‘Diversity Campaign of the Year’ category. By highlighting the achievements of others across the country, the awards will hopefully inspire other organisations to follow.’

And Esther Black, Crown Estate Scotland’s Director of Corporate Operations said: “I’ve been hugely excited about the first year of this new category and pleased that we’ve been able to support this celebration of excellence. Our heartfelt congratulations from all at Crown Estate Scotland to HVS and indeed to all the finalists in the Diversity in Net-Zero Leadership Award for their commitment to diversity & inclusion as we work towards net zero. We can only create meaningful and lasting change to our economy and society if that change is truly inclusive and fair.”