2008 Opportunity Now Award Winners Announced

May 2nd 2008

More than 500 business and
public sector leaders gathered at The Brewery in the City of London for the 2008 opportunity awards dinner ceremony. The dinner has in recent years aquired the status as one of the most eagerly anticipated equality events on the diversity calendar.

Its been an interesting year for women's equality, in the last 12 months weve seen the harmonisation of the EHRC, record equal pay case claims, and significant changes to the Sex Discrimination Act . The event aims to recognise employers who have demonstrated the most commitment to and innovation in creating workplaces where women can succeed. Amongst the winning orginisations were ABB, Sainsbury's and British Gas.

Listed below are the awards and winners:

Champion Award

This award was given to Chief Superintendent Wendy Benson from the Ministry of Defence, Police and Guarding Agency.  She has played an instrumental leadership role in promoting gender equality and diversity within the force. She has championed women’s issues, acted as a mentor and role model. She has ensured practical considerations such as women’s patrol boots and smaller motorcycles were introduced.

Female FTSE 100 Award

This award was given to the FTSE 100 organisation with the most women on its board – Sainsbury’s. Whilst women make up 11% of FTSE 100 directorships overall, Sainsbury’s board is 30% women.*

FTSE Executive Women Award

This award was given to the FTSE 100 organisation with the most women on its executive committee – Lloyds TSB.  Whilst women make up only 3.6% of executive appointments in the FTSE 100, Lloyds TSB group executive committee is 44% women.*

Abbey Award: Inspiring the Workforce of the Future

This award was given to British Gas for its work in developing a more diverse engineering workforce. British Gas is committed to increasing ethnic minority and women engineers to 10% of its overall engineering workforce by 2010. Part of this drive has involved promoting engineering to young people in innovative ways. It has promoted engineering in such titles as Sugar and Bliss and has run open days for over 650 students. After its workshops 52% of girls would consider a career in engineering.

Advancing Women in Business Award

This award was given to Addleshaw Goddard for the work it has done to embed a culture which supports flexibility.  It identified that losing staff who wished for more flexibility could cost it up to £200,000 per person. Therefore it has invested significantly in technology and in promoting the business benefits of making flexibility a reality.  The focus of this programme has been promoting the fact that work is not a place but an activity.

Advancing Women in Public Service Award

Monagh city council with cherie booth QCThis award was given to Omagh District Council for its WRAPS programme, which stands for Women Redress Advancement in the Public Sector. It was a two year project which focused in the personal, professional and business development of women across three public sector organisations in Omagh.  The programme worked to redress the lack of women in senior management and unlock women’s potential through various mechanisms, such as accredited training, mentoring and life coaching. 

Diverse Women Award

This award was given to West Midlands Police for the work it has done to recruit diverse police officers to its specialist teams, such as dog handlers, air operations and fire arm officers.  Its work in this area has involved a wide variety of interventions such as surveying all women in the organisation, an external audit of team dynamics, open days, buddy schemes and promotion of flexible working

Cherie Booth, QC, Patron of the Opportunity Now Awards said:
"Ensuring that both women and men can reach their full potential is not just good for employees. It is good for the businesses and organisations themselves. For the most prized resource is now human capital; the knowledge, expertise and experience of the people who work for you. Firms who fail to make the most of this put themselves at a competitive disadvantage. Businesses which fail to reflect the make-up of their market from the boardroom downwards don’t do as well as those which do.”

Sarah Williams-Gardener, Director of Opportunity Now, the not for profit organisation that promotes the positive business benefits of gender equality said:
“Diversity in the workplace is all about business success. Most employers now have a diversity policy or a flexible working policy but many struggle with creating cultures that really tap into the benefits of true flexibility and diversity.  The majority of workplaces are still designed around a mid 20th century lifestyle, with an outdated approach to where, when and how work happens,” says Williams-Gardener. “If more employers followed the lead of our award winners the UK economy, their businesses and their staff could benefit immensely.”

Posted by, Asif Yusuf



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