In September, the European Diversity Awards will be back, celebrating those wonderful employers, groups and individuals that have made a significant impact in ensuring equality and diversity are at the top of the agenda.
Previous winners have been Doreen Lawrence, the mother of Stephen Lawrence, who campaigns on human rights and for victims of hate crimes, and ex-Rugby International Ben Cohen who – apart from being drop-dead gorgeous and an incredible rugby player – set up the StandUp Foundation for combating homophobic bullying. This year’s awards ceremony will be hosted by Jane Hill, newsreader and civil-partnered poster girl, who recently came seventeenth in the World Pride Power List. To top it all off, the awards are being hosted at the Natural History Museum in London, so the image of lots of fabulously well-dressed people getting to grips with the dinosaurs (both the extinct kind and those attempting to block equal marriage legislation) should fill you with glee.
‘But Will, why should we give a damn?!’ I hear you shout. And maybe you’re right. There’s something vaguely self-serving about clapping everyone on the back for doing their best to make sure everyone is treated equally. Surely by 2013 that should be the obvious thing to do and getting celebrities to clap you on the back, cheer and buy you drinks for it is wrong?
Look and think more closely however and you’ll see just how necessary these kind of awards are. Here’s just a few statistics that might make you remember that, with all the talk, we still aren’t in a fully equal or diverse society. In 2011/12 there were 43,748 hate crimes recorded in England and Wales – of those 82% were race related, 10% based on sexual orientation and 4% on disability. White graduates are three times more likely to be offered a job in a top company. The pay gap between men and women in full time work is still at 22%. There are so many statistics that suggest that we have far to go in order to reach full equality and diversity. But why do we need awards to push this?
Well, the European Diversity Awards might not have the glitz and glamour of the Oscars (although all those gays and other minorities in one place might just make it more fabulous) but just by being there a few more people might start thinking about equality and diversity. With companies and groups aware that they can be recognised for their achievements they might just do a bit more, cynically so they can put a badge on their website, but also so they can attract better staff and more contracts. It might just encourage other organisations to see the benefits, rather than the costs, of having extensive equality and diversity programmes in place. Often, the people that are recognised in these awards are unsung heroes and, whilst they might not do their work for recognition or for monetary gain, it’s nice for us to be able to show that we appreciate everything they do.
Perhaps most importantly, though, is that we can have our say on who gets nominated.
By going to www.europeandiversityawards.com you can nominate individuals and companies for the 14 different categories of awards. Do you know someone who works tirelessly to make sure everyone, no matter their circumstances, is given the same opportunity to succeed? If you do, then give them a nomination. They might just win, and inspire a whole range of people and companies to do just that little bit more to make the world a better place.