20 Jun 2017
From companies with a global footprint to those taking their first tentative steps in the business world... Every box was ticked on election night as the winners were declared at the 11th running of the Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards.
It was a high-octane evening at Titanic Belfast, comprising music, comedy and the sheer drama of announcing the 21 winners of the unique WEA award gong, which has become the ‘must-have’ accolade for corporate Northern Ireland. And the general consensus among the 600-strong audience was that the 2017 awards eclipsed everything that has gone before. From the moment the sublimely accomplished St Patrick’s Junior Choir opened proceedings with two rousing renditions of the songs – including Roar – which wowed the public on Britain’s Got Talent, to the announcement of winners for the Victoria Square, Lough Eske and Aer Lingus draw prizes, the night went off without a hitch.
It was Belfast-based cloud solutions provider Novosco, which clinched a notable double by winning the Best Place to Work and Workplace Wellbeing categories. Indeed ‘wellbeing’ was front and centre of the whole evening, with guest speaker Brian Higgins, chief executive of suicide and self-harm crisis centre Pieta House in Dublin, bringing an uplifting message to the audience. The Co Antrim man said: “Our vision is of a world where suicide, self-harm and stigma are replaced by hope, self-care and acceptance. “We should treat everyone with dignity and respect and should be rooted in compassion and care, and we should generate and nourish hope. “We need to engender a community of people who support each other. We can do our work in the therapy rooms – but you can do your bit in the workplace.” And he challenged businesses: “Do you want to add to society’s cracks and fractures through what you do and what you fail to do, or do you want to strengthen bonds and make a positive impact? “We need to celebrate diversity in the workplace. You have teams of staff depending on you to set an example. It’s your responsibility to make an impact.”
There was a special twist at the end of Brian’s speech when he introduced a video message from Irish rugby star Jack McGrath, an ambassador for Pieta House, who is in New Zealand as part of the British and Irish Lions squad preparing to face the All Blacks. His message said: “Hi to everyone at the Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards. I’m Jack McGrath and I’m currently in New Zealand playing for the Lions. For us, it is about working together, accepting differences, incredible teamwork, and celebrating diversity. “In fact, the diversity of the Lions is what makes us the Lions. My message is that you take the values of Pieta House of treating everyone with dignity and respect, of being routed in compassion and care, of generating and nourishing hope into your workplace. “Be leaders. As business leaders you have a team of staff depending on you. As Brian Higgins has said, it’s your responsibility to make an impact, to tackle issues head on, and to play your part in creating a workplace and a world free from suicide and self harm.”
Last night’s presentation ceremony was overseen by BBC broadcaster Jim Fitzpatrick, assisted in his own inimitable way by top comic Paddy Kielty – his third time fronting the Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards. A full list of all the successful companies and organisations – which include the likes of Kainos, First Derivatives, Coca Cola, PKFFPM, the north’s two main airports and previous multi-winner Allstate – is included on the opposite page.Last night’s awards were supported by eight key business partners in Carson McDowell, Mount Charles, Phoenix Natural Gas, Queen’s University, Ulster University, Henderson Group, Armagh City Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council and Titanic Belfast. All the winners and those highly commended will be featured in a special 32-page commemorative awards supplement in the Irish News on Thursday June 22. For picture galleries of the 2017 Workplace & Employment Awards click on www.irishnews.com/weaBack to News