It’s always great to sit in an auditorium surrounded by people with the most positive outlook and in particular, those that have turned a perceived weakness or difficulty, into a winning formula.
The National Diversity Awards (NDA) aims to champion diversity, not only in the workplace but in our wider society. The awards are a just deserts for those organisations (and individuals) that make diversity a core strength rather than griping about costs or sidestepping issues in the name of Health and safety and so on.
The pre-awards celebration was hosted by Microsoft in London yesterday and brought together some of last year’s winners and sponsors to talk about why they’re still involved and what the awards mean to them. Several of the 2013 winners explained how the awards had not only given them a confidence boost, enabling them to reach higher with their ambitions but also how an NDA footer at the end of an email has provided kudos to their mission, enabling them to attract opportunities rather than be perpetually chasing them – for funding purposes and the like. In some cases it has dramatically helped increase market radius and penetration.
Diversity is in a strange place at the moment. Because things have steadily changed and got better and because legislation has been strengthened and is now more properly enforced there are those that think that the NDA are no longer needed. “Where are all the white men?” they might ask. What is interesting is the idea that these same observers would probably describe people differently if they happened to note that they were disabled, for example, perhaps using mobility aids. Would they still be described as “white men” or might they then be described as ‘disabled’ or ‘wheelchair users’?
That’s the point. Until discrimination is a thing of the past the NDA will continue to celebrate those special people who really can see beyond disability, age, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, gender and transgender and give people the opportunities that they deserve.
I can’t wait to celebrate the stories of more winners come September.