IN Awards : Inspiring Member of the Year
Photo : What an inspiration, Funke with her award
Our finalists have demonstrated something that has made those that nominated them sit up and take notice, in a positive way. They may have overcome a personal struggle and helped others along the way, made a big impact to a network event or initiative, supported charity or the wider community through fundraising or experienced other personal or professional challenges. They’ve done something truly inspiring and remarkable.
Cairn F Newton-Evans, Dyfed-Powys Police, LGBT Staff Network
In 2008 he was the victim of a violent homophobic hate crime that resulted in him requiring surgery. This left him scared to leave the house and constantly afraid of harassment, alarm and distress but after months of hiding away he decided to turn this negative experience into a positive one. In 2009, he and a friend launched the support network Gay Ammanford to help raise awareness of LGBT issues within the county of Carmarthenshire and the surrounding area and to give the local LGBT community a voice whilst supporting those that had been through a similar situation as Cairn. He went on to join the police as a member of the Special Constabulary as a Special Constable and he is now Deputy-Lead of the LGBT Staff Network at Dyfed-Powys Police. He launched the straight allies scheme within the force.
HIGHLY COMMENDED : Indy Hothi, EY, EY Sikh Network
He has been leading the successful EY Sikh Network for the last three years, now joined by Anisha Seth. He has actively supported black and minority ethnic group students by running ‘graduate insight’ days and CV Workshops for students at University to help students demystify the application process for careers in the city. To date the initiatives he has led has resulted in 40 students being placed in roles across the city. He is a trustee for an international humanitarian NGO, Khalsa Aid, which focuses on providing humanitarian support in disaster and war zones. He has been actively involved in field projects in countries such as Bosnia, Haiti and Syria and he coordinated relief efforts in Bosnia after the flooding in 2014. Under his leadership a village with over 3,000 residents were supported with home repairs, rebuilds and clean drinking water.
Follow Indy on Twitter @IndyHothi
Lt Cdr Chris Wood, Royal Navy, COMPASS
Chris assisted in the recent introduction of sexual orientation declaration and monitoring to the organisation, presenting on the need to understand the workforce and producing briefing notes/communications to gain employee trust. As a qualified coach and mentor, he understands the importance of diversity mentoring and recently implemented a mentoring scheme for LGBT people in the organisation – to benefit both mentors and mentees. In 2015 he successfully managed to introduce a new ‘spirit of diversity’ category into the prestigious RN Photographic Competition, the Peregrine Trophy, to raise the profile and start discussions about diversity and inclusion internally and externally. He strives to make the workplace and network more inclusive.
Follow Chris on Twitter @CTWoodUK
WINNER : Funke Abimbola, Black Solicitors Network and WILL
Funke is a practicing solicitor now leading the UK & Ireland legal team of Roche. She is currently the most senior black lawyer working in the UK pharmaceutical industry. She had to overcome significant obstacles in pursuing and progressing her legal career to this stage and her passion for becoming a business lawyer drove her to cold-call the corporate department heads at the
top 100 UK law firms with a “sales pitch” confirming what she could offer. It is her personal mission to promote diversity within the legal profession. She mentors a number of female solicitors and is a professional Ambassador for Aspiring Solicitors, an organisation that supports and promotes diversity within the legal profession. She is also an active member of a number of networks, including the Black Solicitors’ Network and WILL.
Follow Funke on Twitter @DiversityChamp1
Andy Law, York St John University, LGBT Staff Network
Andy is one of the drivers of the network. As the Secretary, he has put significant and successful efforts into raising the profile of the network and substantiating its role in advancing equality and diversity at the University, in particular for LGBT people. From the beginning he has striven to make LGBT equality a matter for everyone at the University. He has also shown how the network can work for the benefit of the whole University. Using his own initiative, to mark LGBT History Month he brought together representatives from organisations across York to put together a programme of events in the City of York. Whenever the University thinks they’ve pretty much done everything they can do, Andy is always there with new ideas and challenges.
Follow Andy on Twitter @andylaw31