EXCEPTIONAL efforts to stamp out discrimination and promote fairness at work have been highlighted at the annual North-East Equality Awards.
The awards, which this year attracted a record number of entries, were presented at the NewcastleGateshead Hilton. Now in their fourth year, the awards organised by Equality North-East, recognise the good work being done in both public and private sectors.
Equality North-East chief executive Liz Reay said: “The number of applications we received this year is evidence of the greater awareness generally of the social and economic need to remove unfair discrimination and to promote equality.
“What was heartening this year was the actual and tangible evidence of the business benefits of implementing good equality practices in the workplace.
Kevin Rowan, regional secretary of the TUC and chair of Equality North-East, said: “The ability of organisations to attract and retain workers from all areas of society will be an increasingly critical factor for business success in the future. The companies and individuals represented in this year’s awards are a credit to the region.”
Keynote speaker was Solicitor General and Redcar MP Vera Baird, who highlighted the task faced by the new Equality and Human Rights Commission.
She said that although there had been impressive progress in achieving equality over the past 10 years, in some areas this progress had been slow and there was a lot more to do.
John Raine, marketing manager at not-for-profit organisation Equality North-East, said the event had highlighted an important message.
“Everything about the event was encouraging, from the record number of applications we had, to the amount of people that attended, to the responsiveness we’ve found from everyone involved. It’s set the bar very high now for the future,” he said.
“I would encourage all of our winners and finalists to become champions of the cause, by encouraging their partners, their suppliers, their customers to get on board and help spread the message of equality and diversity. It’s not just about winning the certificates – it’s about taking it forward.”