New format as Workplace & Employment Awards return after two-year hiatus

Pictured at the launch of the Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards are the paper's editor Noel Doran (second right) and business editor Gary McDonald (left) with business partner representatives (from left) Gillian Armstrong (director of business engagement at Ulster University), Ryan Feeney (director public engagement at Queen's University), Terry Hughes (senior vice president of marketing at Options Technology), Orlagh O’Neill (partner and head of employment at Carson McDowell), Elizabeth Toner (vice president of global talent at First Derivative) and Siobhan Lynch (director of operations at Titanic Belfast. Picture: Hugh Russell

AFTER a two-year hiatus, the Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards, which since inception in 2006 has grown into the single most important business awards initiative in the north, will return this June.

And the initiative - which rewards exceptional people-focused companies and organisations by recognising excellence in the workplace - will have a complete new look and format.

"I'm delighted to be able to say that the WEA show is back on the road," Irish News editor Noel Doran told a launch dinner in James Street restaurant.

"It in many ways our return represents a major vote of confidence for all our economic and employment prospects after such a difficult period, so it's great that we have managed to reach this stage."

The launch reception was attended by number of business organisations as well as representatives of the initiative's key business partners Options Technology, Carson McDowell, Queen's University, Ulster University Business School, First Derivative and Titanic Belfast.

The Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards have evolved into one of the region’s most prestigious business initiatives, regularly attracting hundreds of entries and culminating in a glittering presentation in Titanic Belfast on June 30, hosted by comic Neil Delamere, who is best known for his hilariously quick-witted appearances on myriad panel shows including his long running tenure on the Blame Game and his live tours.

This year the format makes it easier to enter, with each category including a two-part entry form, requesting background information and a 1,000-word submission standardised across all categories.

For 2022 we have also launched three new award categories - Diversity, Equality and Inclusion; Best Company Connection; and Corporate Social Responsibility (full details at

Irish News group marketing and communications manager Annette Small said: "We're thrilled to relaunch our WEA awards, which since their inception in 2006 have recognised the importance of focusing organisational strategy on businesses' key people asset.

"It's people who drive and add value to any organisation, and our 2022 awards will be another celebration of the exceptional standards they demonstrate in different aspects of economy."

She added: "Everyone who puts themselves forwards for our awards is recognising the importance of working closely with their staff at all levels, regardless of the size of the organisation, and how vital it is to have proper strategies in place for developing the huge talents which are out there in the field of employment."

Entries for the 2022 Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards officially open today and will be accepted up until Friday April 22, with a judging panel then due to convene on Wednesday April 27 to pore over the submissions.

Mr Doran added: "We could never consider an initiative of this magnitude without the support of our business partners, and their endorsement remains a crucial factor.

"It's been an incredibly tough period for everyone involved in civic life here, but thanks to a massive effort across the board, a cautious and measured sense of reality is returning to our society.

"We will now be extending the hand of friendship to a wide range of groups and individuals from all sections of our community at the Workplace & Employment Awards on June 30, the build-up begins from here.

"It is going to be a wonderful evening, and I'm looking forward to seeing you all again at Titanic Belfast."

:: For more information and details on entering the awards, go to

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