Workplace and Employment Awards

Keeping it legal and centring on Newry: where the WEA gongs went on another night of glitz

Irish News business editor Gary McDonald with the prize sponsors at the Irish News WEA awards at Titanic Belfast. Picture by Hugh Russell 

Professional services/legal firm Baker McKenzie was a double winner at last night’s Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards in Titanic Belfast. 

A record-breaking 620 guests attended a glittering culmination to the initiative, which is now in its 12th year and which champions resilience, team-building and positivity in the workplace.

Baker McKenzie, which employs 13,000 people globally including 280 in Belfast, won the Right Place to Work and Workplace Wellbeing categories for large firms at the awards.

One of the judges’ citations read: “This is an organisation wholly committed to helping create an environment that supports the holistic wellbeing of all its people.

“The culture is embedded in the fabric of the firm – so much so that its wellbeing initiatives are frequently cited in interviews as a motivation for wanting to join this outstanding company.”

The law firm joined a clutch of other well-known names on the podium – including a quartet of winners from Newry in sandwich giant Around Noon, accountancy firm PKF-FPM, construction company mac-group and the long-established Jack Murphy Jewellers.

Among the other winners of the distinctive WEA ‘silver man’ trophy were NI Co-Ownership, Portview Fit-out, Ireland Craft Beers, George Best City Airport and St Cecilia’s College in Derry.

And there was a notable success too for O’Neill’s Irish International in Strabane, the largest sportswear manufacturer in Ireland employing more than 800 people, which is celebrating its centenary this year.

More companies than ever are keen to benchmark themselves against their peers and total entries in the Workplace & Employment Awards was just shy of 180, with 109 different businesses, public sector organisations and schools/colleges applying, including 50 who are completely new to the process.

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 gong, which has become the ‘must-have’ accolade for corporate Northern Ireland.

Guest speaker was Tim Dorsett, culture ambassador at Innocent Drinks, one of the happiest brands on the planet, whose mission is to help people work better and go home happy.

It has gone from those humble beginnings in West London in 1999 to becoming Europe’s favourite healthy drinks company with an annual turnover of more than £350 million, employing 450 people not just in its appropriately-named Fruit Towers headquarters but across 10 offices.

In a humour-laced address Tim took guests through the Innocent story, where the theme mirrored that of the awards initiative – that it’s all about the people in any organisation.

Last night’s presentation ceremony was overseen by BBC broadcaster Karen Patterson, assisted by the indefatigable Tim McGarry, a member of the comedy group Hole In The Wall Gang, who played Da in the comedy series Give My Head Peace and who now presents the BBC comedy quiz show The Blame Game.

The awards were supported by eight key business partners in Carson McDowell, Mount Charles, Phoenix Natural Gas, Queen’s University, Ulster University, Henderson Group, the Public Health Agency 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 28.

For picture galleries of the 2018 Workplace & Employment Awards click on www.irishnews.com.

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