Entries open as Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards adds new categories

WEA Awards
The 2024 Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards were formally launched at a sponsors' dinner at James Street South. Taking place for the 16th time, entries have opened at The ceremony will take place in Titanic Belfast on Thursday June 6. This year's Gold Sponsors are Errigal Group, Options Technology, Carson McDowell and Queen's University Belfast, with category sponsors including NI Chamber, NI Job Finder, Calibro Workspace, NIE Networks, Titanic, Miller Hospitality. Drinks Sponsors Re Gen Waste Management and Diageo. Included are head judge Ellvena Graham, Irish News designate editor-in-chief Chris Sherrard and Irish News business editor Gary McDonald. PICTURE: Colm Lenaghan

The Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards, which since inception nearly two decades ago has grown into the single most important business awards initiative in the north, has been formally launched for 2024.

A new-look website has gone live at, which not only sets out all the key entry criteria, but reflects on the 2023 event in words and pictures.

Voting has already opened, and entries will be received until 10am on Monday April 8.

The short-listed companies and organisations will then be revealed in the Irish News business pages and online on Tuesday April 23, ahead of the lead-in to the spectacular awards night itself in Titanic Belfast on Thursday June 6, compered by Neil Delamere.

A launch reception in James Street restaurant was attended by representatives of the initiative’s key business partners as well as a number of business organisations.

WEA Awards,
Pictured at the WEA launch are Niall McAleer (centre), marketing director at Gold Sponsor Options Technology, with Irish News editor Chris Sherrard (right) and business editor Gary McDonald. Picture: Colm Lenaghan

This year’s Gold sponsors are Options Technology, Carson McDowell, Errigal and Queen’s University Belfast.

Category sponsors include NI Chamber, nijobfinder, NIE Networks, Calibro Workspace, Titanic Belfast, Galgorm Resort and Miller Hospitality, while Re-Gen Waste and Diageo will sponsor the drinks.

Q Radio presenter Ibe Sesay, who welcomed guests, said: “The Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards, one of the country’s most prestigious business initiatives, aim to reward exceptional companies and organisations focused on their people by recognising excellence in the workplace.”

Irish News designate editor-in-chief Chris Sherrard told guests: “It’s people who drive and add value to any organisation, and our 2024 awards will be another celebration of the exceptional standards they demonstrate in different aspects of economy.

He 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.”

WEA awards
At the launch of 2024 Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards are Gold sponsor Errigal Contracts representatives Martina Corrigan (procurement director) and Donna Kelly (marketing manager). Picture: Colm Lenaghan

Business editor Gary McDonald set out in detail the different awards and outlined the judging process, which will take place on Wednesday April 18, chaired by one of the north’s most revered business figures in Ellvena Graham.

Ellvena, who had a 30-year career in banking up until 2015 with Ulster Bank across the island of Ireland, is currently chair of Catalyst, chair of Tourism NI and a non-executive director in Dale Farm.

She has also been chair of ESB, one of the major state-owned utilities in Ireland, senior independent governor of Queen’s University, and chair of the Belfast Waterfront & Ulster Hall, and she also served two terms as president of NI Chamber of Commerce.

“We are thrilled to have such a distinguished business figure to independently chair our judging process, and we are indebted to Ellvena for her continued endorsement of our awards,” Gary said.

This year there are 12 awards categories as follows:

  • Best Place to Work
  • Team of the Year
  • Leadership Excellence Award
  • Best Graduate or Training Scheme
  • Innovation in HR & Recruitment
  • Best Employee Development Programme
  • Best Wellbeing in the Workplace Strategy
  • Best Diversity, Equality and Inclusion
  • Best Sustainable Business Award
  • Corporate Social Responsibility Programme of the Year
  • Best Digital Transformation Award (new for 2024)
  • Best Employee Benefits Programme (new for 2024)

Gary added: “The best employee benefits programme category recognises organisations which excel in providing exceptional and comprehensive benefits packages to their employees. It highlights a company’s commitment to supporting the wellbeing, financial security, and overall satisfaction of its workforce.

Comedian Neil Delamere hosted the 2023 Irish News Workplace and Employment Awards at Titanic Belfast
Comedian Neil Delamere hosted the 2023 Irish News Workplace and Employment Awards at Titanic Belfast Comedian Neil Delamere, who hosted the 2023 Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards at Titanic Belfast, will be back again this year on June 6

“And best digital transformation honours organisations that demonstrate exceptional innovation and success in leveraging digital technologies to revolutionise their operations and achieve significant business growth.”

Extending his thanks to the event’s business partners, Gary added: “It is going to be a wonderful evening, and I’m looking forward to seeing you all again at Titanic Belfast on June 6.”