ORGANISATIONS and individuals across the region have been recognised for efforts and initiatives to promote equality and diversity in the workplace through the 2008 North East Equality Awards.
The awards, which this year saw yet another record number of entries across all categories, reward and champion businesses which have led the way in eradicating the discrimination and unfair practices experienced by minority and excluded groups.
The fifth awards ceremony, held recently at the Newcastle Marriott, Gosforth Park, saw 10 organisations and individuals applauded for their work in promoting equal opportunities and removing barriers people may face in employment and entry into employment.
The construction sector was extremely well represented with The Gentoo Group, Frank Haslam Milan, The Gateshead Housing Company and AH Property Services Limited all being listed as finalists.
The Gentoo Group, the Sunderland-based people and property business, was recognised for its commitment to social investment by winning the One NorthEast sponsored award for larger organisations that have made an outstanding contribution in promoting equality and diversity in the community.
Gentoo’s winning entry provided a host of evidence to back up their claim that they are firmly committed to the equality and diversity agenda and specifically to embedding it, not only within their own organisation but also within the wider communities in which Gentoo work.
With programmes such as Construction Challenge, Construction Challenge Adults and Positive Action Days, Gentoo positively influences the people who live in its neighbourhoods, young people in the education system, its employees and their families and, using their purchasing power, suppliers and contractors.
Liz Reay, chief executive of Equality North East, said: “2008 has been another outstanding year for the awards. They are in their fifth year and yet again we have had a record-breaking number of applications.
“Increased applications from the private sector are encouraging as are increased applications from the construction sector. Both clearly indicate a growing trend and demonstrate that equality and diversity is permeating all sectors of the market. Employers in the region are recognising that implementing good practice is not just about legislative compliance - it is also about business benefits. The finalists and winners are beginning to reap those business benefits.
“In March, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that by 2013, 30% of public sector contracts will be awarded to SMEs. Equality and diversity will become extremely influential in that procurement process.
“As we already look forward to the 2009 awards we would hope that these encouraging growth trends continue.”
The category sponsors of the 2008 North East Equality Awards were the North East Assembly, the North East Employer Coalition, LSC North East, One NorthEast, TUC – unionlearn, Cummins Limited, WorkWise North East and The Equality and Human Rights Commission. Other valued sponsors included Dickinson Dees LLP, ConstructionSkills, Nexus and Ufi.