IN Awards : Champion of the Year

IN Awards : Champion of the Year

Photo : Liam Hackett, CEO of our Charity Partner Ditch the Label, with our winner Jo Thompson

Senior Network Champions, often referred to as Network Sponsors, are essential to fully embedding networks within organisations. Our finalists are not just a senior name attached to the network, they have each demonstrated their active support of the network by working with the Network Team, attending network events, championing their work and being a visible supporter and role model. They are committed to the work of the network and that of a more inclusive workplace and society.

Professor Colin Riordan, Cardiff University

Colin is the President and Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University and is their Chief Executive Officer. His engagement with their LGBT+ staff network Enfys has increased their profile and enabled them to achieve their objectives. He influenced the introduction of the gender-neutral toilets around campus with new estate developments having gender-neutral toilet provision and current buildings being assessed for necessary adaptation. He has made it clear that this is simply the right thing to do. An active supporter, he became the first Friend of Enfys (straight ally campaign) and was part of the publicity to launch the scheme, which has gathered a huge amount of momentum and support across campus.
Follow the Enfys network on Twitter @EnfysCardiff

Amarjit Singh, EY

Amarjit is a partner at EY and has sponsored the EY Sikh Network since it was launched. His support, guidance and advice have been absolutely invaluable. As part of the networks SINGH Project exhibition he had his photo taken and this was displayed at their London office for all staff and visitors to see – a very visible Senior Champion. He offers the network fantastic support and has had a huge influence on their work and impact. He helps make their ideas a reality. He has previously been interviewed for the Sikh Spectrum where he talked about his education, early career, the network and his progression throughout EY. He’s a great authentic role model.
Follow the EY Sikh Network on Twitter @EYSikhNetwork

Photo : Our Highly Commended Network Champion Alison Lowe with her son Adam

Michael Keegan, Fujitsu

Michael is the Chairman of Fujitsu UK & Ireland. He is a huge supporter of all four-inclusion networks at Fujitsu – Cultural Diversity, Women at Fujitsu, SEED (Support & Engage Employees with a Disability) and Shine LGBT+. Creating a culture where everyone can be themselves and key diversity celebration days are communicated to staff, and network group and staff achievements are shared and celebrated, he writes a regular blog that he shares with colleagues. These are hosted online and are accessible to anyone, anywhere. This visible support and endorsement encourages engagement, increases understanding from line managers and makes staff feel valued, as well as supporting the networks develop.
Follow Michael on Twitter @michaelkeegan14

Brigadier Peter Cameron, Royal Marines

As an LGBT Champion for the Royal Navy COMPASS network he has spent time with members and stakeholders of the network to really understand the network, challenges and the work still to do. He took well to reverse mentoring and constantly asked questions and for advice. He has attended a number of external senior leader networking events, where he had a chance to learn more as a straight ally from various other organisations. He has used his rank and position to encourage senior leadership to ‘step out’ and attend the Stonewall workplace conference, and by doing so was educating and influencing and recruiting more positive allies. This has resulted in high-level support for LGBT events such as Portsmouth Pride and Pride in London.
Follow the COMPASS network on Twitter @RNCompass

HIGHLY COMMENDED : Alison Lowe, Touchstone

Alison is the Chief Executive at health and wellbeing charity Touchstone. Pink Pals is their staff LGBT allies programme and Alison is their LGBT Champion. The charity is number 19 in the Stonewall 2015 Workplace Equality Index, rising from their position of 91 a year earlier. She was named as Stonewall’s 2015 Senior Champion in recognition of her role promoting LGBT equality both in the organisation and in the community. She has used a variety of platforms to promote sexual orientation equality. She has opened Pride in Leeds and has actively campaigned for equality in Leeds City Council where she is serving as a Councillor.
Follow Alison on Twitter @alison4labour

WINNER : Jo Thompson, York St John University

Jo is the Head of Human Resources at the University and is a founding member of their LGBT Staff Network. Her passion, energy and enthusiasm for the work of the network never diminishes. As an ally she is at the forefront of network activities. She is a welcome presence at all the network events and is usually one of the helpers, organisers or contributors, bringing her own energy and flair to any proceedings and ensuring that the needs of all stakeholders are met. Through her pioneering work with the network she has been able to take that experience and apply it to other, similar, networks within the University that have been established.
Follow the LGBT Staff Network on Twitter @ysjulgbtstaff

About The Author

Thomas Anderson

Founder and MD of Inclusive Networks. Thomas was Chair of the award winning LGBT network for The Co-operative Group, ‘Respect’ (2011-14). Thomas named the network and designed and managed all of the branding, communications and engagement until he stepped down from the role of Chair in March 2014. He also created the branding, name, was Editor of the quarterly magazine and developed the launch of the UK’s first Inter-Retail LGBT network ‘CheckOUT’. He contributed to the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index 5 Year review. In recognition of his work in the diversity field he was shortlisted for ‘Diversity Champion of the Year’ at the 2013 European Diversity Awards, shortlisted for ‘Role Model of the Year’ at the 2012 Lesbian & Gay Foundation Homo Heroes Awards and shortlisted for the ‘Positive Action’ award at the 2013 Asian Fire Service Association Fair & Diverse Awards. He also won the 2012 ‘Pride of The Co-operative’ award. He was a judge for Scotland's biggest diversity awards, The Icon Awards in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

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