Following the postponement of the 23rd Awards for Achievement to March 2021, when they were held online, we have taken the decision to continue to host the awards presentation virtually so we can reach all WIBF members across the UK. This virtual event will be on Thursday 29th September. However, we missed the opportunity to catch up and network in person and so 2022 will also see physical celebrations in London, Birmingham and Edinburgh.

The changes due to the pandemic also allowed us the chance to refresh our approach – albeit one that had evolved since our first awards presentation in 1998 – and allow us to reflect the extension of our activities over recent years, such as our change to a social enterprise and to leverage learnings from our Accelerating Change Together (ACT) research programme.

These revisions encompass the requests for information, the judging process and the award categories themselves.

In the meantime, below are the overviews of each of the awards, five of which are new, with more information on each category detailed below.

The Categories

Award for Achievement

An individual in a senior industry role who achieves success that can benefit the industry as a whole. The winner will have displayed qualities of determination, dynamism and daring in their working life to be a role model for the sector. They will have also sought to bring their experience to bear beyond their own organisation (e.g. by serving on other organisations’ boards) to further diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the financial services sector and support women more broadly. This is an individual making a significant impact, driving change, and is able to demonstrate that change through measurement/documented successes. They should be a role model who can be held up beyond our sector.

Inclusive Leader

This award celebrates a proud advocate for change. This is a leader making change happen by ensuring that women get equal access to voice, visibility and opportunities. Through personal commitment, application and dedication, they continuously promote and inspire women in the workplace to help them achieve their full potential. Their standard of inclusion and approach to D&I should become the norm, rather than the exception, setting best practices and methods for future inclusive leaders. The award is being judged in partnership with The Inclusion Initiative, LSE.

Future Leader

Celebrates someone aged 35 or younger (on 31st May 2022) who has had an exceptional impact within an organisation with regard to D&I, either as a role model or by leading progress. This person is shaping their company’s culture, not only in terms of business success, but also in the example being set for colleagues. This individual outperforms peers across their firm and demonstrates ambition and has seen career success, while helping others.

Tech Leader

Celebrates an outstanding contribution within digital or tech disciplines in financial services. This award recognises someone who is leading the tech agenda, either via thought leadership, technical expertise or as an innovator. This individual will have demonstrated their passion and innovation in either a project or in leveraging technology to advance the work of their organisation and improve gender equality either for their organisation, or for the financial services sector as a whole.

Mentor of the Year

Celebrates an individual who has consistently demonstrated the importance of mentoring, having given up time to support one or more mentees over the course of the last year, at a minimum. The submission should highlight how they have supported their mentee(s) in achieving their objectives and in what ways each mentee was able to progress/develop following their mentoring sessions. The submission should include endorsements from their mentee(s). The nominated mentor can be new to mentoring or a seasoned hand.

Volunteer of the Year

A WIBF volunteer who has served during the previous year and is seen as having provided an outstanding contribution to WIBF beyond their initial remit as a volunteer. The winner for this award will be selected by WIBF individual members through a voting process, based on how this person has stood out as a volunteer versus others, and whether their contribution has supported success for a WIBF project, pillar or region, or has generally championed the broader aims of WIBF.

Best D&I Innovation – Gender Equality

Good ideas can change the world. The challenge of delivering gender equality requires organisations to think differently about their work with colleagues, communities and wider society. This award recognises an organisation that is leading the way in supporting gender equality in new and innovative ways. Whether celebrating a project or team that has delivered a successful innovation project driving gender diversity and inclusion, the focus may be on a business division, on a specialist function (such as HR, operations), on a community network, or on a time-limited project. Submissions must articulate how a model for success was developed that sought to fundamentally progress diversity and inclusion for the broader company. The submission also needs to provide evidence (and data) of the state of affairs before and after, hurdles that needed to be overcome and outcomes (including quick wins) that could be used to develop/replicate industry practice.

Positive SOCIAL & SUSTAINABLE Impact

Pressure from investors and customers has moved sustainability higher up boardroom agendas, and companies have become more conscientious and strategic in how they address environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters. However, there is one key area many organisations overlook as they concentrate on ESG: the link between diversity and inclusion (D&I) and sustainability. But this represents a clear opportunity due to the availability of data, e.g. on gender equality. We believe that a focus on D&I can lead to more sustainable business practices and contribute to a better world. D&I is a critical component of ESG and no longer just a nice-to-have. With a clear and strategic approach – built around an inspiring narrative, leadership engagement and data – companies can accurately reflect their progress, align reporting with investors’ expectations, and more confidently and transparently communicate what they stand for as organisations. In addition to details of company’s values and the programmes in place, the judges want to understand what efforts you have made to build a narrative around your organisation’s D&I efforts that link specifically to the corporate purpose, align the leadership team and inspire the workforce.

Most Successful Returners’ Strategy

As a sector where women are significantly underrepresented in the workforce at senior levels, it is worrying that only 14% of HM Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter signatories specifically include returners as part of their recruitment strategy. Submissions must highlight the drivers to implementing the strategy, how it is sponsored and communicated (both within the organisation and externally), how it has developed and progressed since inception and how it is part of a longer-term strategic approach to diversity. This award will celebrate the effective recruitment strategies of the winning company that look to encompass a range of women returners who have had a career break for any reason. The award is being judged in partnership with The Return Hub

SME categories

The details of the SME awards are the same as for the awards for (large) corporates, although corporates entering this award category must demonstrate that they have an annual turnover of less than £250m. As a brand new membership category, announced earlier this year, 2022 will see the formal introduction of just one award – the D&I Innovation Award – and we will encourage all SMEs working within the financial services sector and eco-system to enter. As a celebration of this new membership category it will not be necessary for the SMEs to be WIBF members to qualify. Additional award categories will be rolled out in 2023 to mirror the full ‘large’ corporate programme.