Friday, 20 October 2017

Northern Ireland Equality and Diversity Gala/Awards 2018

We launched the Northern Ireland Equality and Diversity Gala/Awards 2018 sponsored by Diamond Recruitment this morning and we’re all very excited about our plans.
The inaugural event in March of this year was a huge success with many people saying they had seen nothing quite like it in Northern Ireland before. There was a fantastic buzz on the night which seemed to bring out the best in everyone including Sarah Travers the gala host (though to be fair she’s always brilliant or very close to it).

This year we have the following awards available :

•             Best Employer for Equality & Diversity in NI (large and small employer)
•             Best Gender Initiative
•             Best LGBT Initiative
•             Best Disability Initiative
•             Individual Diversity Champion

Equality issues appear to be back in the headlines now every day as Tinsel Town tries to sort itself out and rid itself of the predators that so many have known about for too long and, it seems, have been reluctant to challenge or to name publicly.

We have our own issues too of course. A survey reported in the Belfast Telegraph this week suggests that we have in Northern Ireland the highest rate of workplace harassment in the UK and by far.

Our own equality and diversity e-learning tackles many of the harassment issues still to be found in the modern day workplace. This together with the Awards, and the Annual Review of Employment Law conference we do every year is our humble contribution to making Northern Ireland workspace suitable for everyone.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Holywood Harassment and Weinstein, Price, Lawrence -it's all about our celebrity obession

It’s oozing out of Holywood now like a lanced boil, successful allegations of sexual harassment by female stars and wannabes. Harvey Weinstein is facing multiple allegations of rape and harassment and no doubt a sizeable claim from his now ex-wife. We learnt yesterday that the head of Amazon films Roy Price has resigned following allegations that he propositioned Isa Hackett “repeatedly and crudely”. No doubt more detail will be provided in due course. Now Jennifer Lawrence is claiming she was made to take part in a nude line up as part of an audition.
What we’re witnessing from this side of the Atlantic has been mirrored here already. First to be outed and properly pilloried was Jimmy Saville as countless allegations came in from hundreds of people about his shocking, criminal past. Then it was the turn of other DJs. Dave Lee Travis was given a suspended sentence for assault on one young girl in 1995 after facing a multitude of charges that jurors just couldn’t seem to agree on.

The obsession with celebrity both sides of the Atlantic does nothing to help protect women from men in power. Complaints when they do reach the authorities are too easily brushed off as coming from attention seekers wanting to sell a story to the tabloids.  Too many women are ready to forgo lodging formal complaints knowing the damage they may do to their chances of achieving leading roles and fame of a global dimension.

These people wherever and whoever they are should expect to work in the same environment as everyone else. Employees both in the UK and in the USA at reputable employers are required to do regular training on equality and diversity in the workplace. Tinseltown's training should be no exception. Perhaps even mandatory.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Public Speaking in Northern Ireland

 I’m detecting a renewed interest in Northern Ireland in public speaking. What accounts for this I really have no idea. Perhaps it’s an increasing realisation on the part of many professionals that it’s an essential skill to have and one that separates you from your peers if you can do it well. Tim Ferris in his book “Tools of Titans” advises that to be successful in life you should aim to weave together three very different skills one of which should be the art of public speaking.

So what’s the evidential basis for my grand claim that there’s a renewed interest in public speaking in Northern Ireland? Well, first of all, the number in attendance at the meetings of the Belfast Speakers’ Circle has quadrupled this year. Last year the Circle was struggling to get into double figures most times it met. Last time out there was about 50 people in the room at the Clayton Hotel, Belfast all chomping at the bit to get to the podium and give it a go. The SpeakEasy Club which offers people in NI the opportunity to learn the core skills of public speaking is reporting strong interest in their new courses starting very soon across Northern Ireland. Organised by top performers Camilla Long and Sarah Travers participants can expect to be well briefed on the golden rules of speaking in public be it in front of small group of people or something much larger.

Somers White once said “90% of how well the talk will go is determined before the speaker steps on the platform.” By this he probably meant the three Ps. Preparation, preparation, preparation or put another way preparation (dress) preparation (mental) preparation (practice).

Monday, 25 September 2017

Of One Special Day Out and Possibly Many More

Anna and I enjoyed the last of her birthday treats over the weekend which was a horse riding trip over Whitesands Bay on the north coast of Northern Ireland.

We were in the expert hands of Shean's Horse Farm which with over 50 horses in stock were well able to find a horse docile yet strong enough to carry my weight and take me safely about. "Flo" was on her best behaviour for the duration of the excursion with the exception of the last 5 minutes when she "took a notion" all to herself and went galloping off at speed up the hillside. Firm words from her rider assisted by a very steep field soon brought her back to a light trot then her usual leisurely walk.
Anna's horse "Charlie" was impeccably well behaved and did exactly what he was told to do although he wasn't too fussed about getting more than his 
hooves wet.

This one-off treat proved so good I have a feeling it could lead to a very expensive hobby indeed. But it proved to be a truly great day and has given Anna one more thing to add to her Russian Tour Guide NI website

Monday, 18 September 2017

Belfast Speakers' Circle & Gratitude

Ballintoy Beach sunrise Sunday 17 Sept
I’m speaking tonight at the first meeting of the year of the Belfast Speakers’ Circle.

My topic for my ten minute speech will be gratitude. I’ll talk about how poor we are at saying thank you for the positive things that other people do for us or send our way.  I’m also going to introduce everyone to my “gratitude jar”. This is a jar that sits in your house and every time you or anyone living with you has a reason to feel grateful for something they write it down and pop it into the jar. Once a month or so everyone gathers together, reads out and discusses the contents of the jar.
There’s something about the emotional positivity that comes with feeling grateful for something. It’s hard to feel depressed or in a low mood when recalling whatever is great in your life.

Into my jar yesterday I popped a note about the Saturday night I had just had. I’d spent it with my wife and daughter on a mat in a double sleeping bag on Ballintoy Beach gazing up at a beautiful sky packed full of stars next to a roaring campfire. Gratitude only just begins to cover what I'm feeling about that experience right now.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Of Diversity & Inclusion in the Air

Too fat to fly hey?

We heard today that a Russian woman is suing Aeroflot for dropping her from lucrative long haul flights on account of her size. Her bosses told her she didn't meet the size limit Aeroflot had set for its cabin crew.: a UK size 14.
Evgenia Magurina claims a number of other flight attendants suffered the same treatment, calling themselves the STS club after the Russian words for “old, fat & ugly”.
Instead of long trips abroad, they joked that they had been relegated to night flights around of Novgorod, "so no-one will see us".
Evgenia Magurina  stated :
"They put appearance in first place. But stewardesses are rescuers above all," she insists. "Imagine if they had the same requirements for judges or doctors? It would be absurd."

Russian employment claims are by no means common and difficult to take. It’ll be interesting to watch how this develops and whether Aeroflot seeks to settle it quickly or fight it out.

A person’s size is not currently one of the nine protected grounds of discrimination although for some it’s a sure bet to become category No.10 at some stage.

Legal-Island’s own e-learning on diversity and inclusion in the workplace can be found at our website

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Of Safeguarding in Northern Ireland Schools

It’s all happening in the world of safeguarding in Northern Ireland at the moment. We’ve seen important new legislation such as the Special Needs and Disability Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 (SEND Act). This places new duties on Boards of Governors, the Education Authority and health and social services authorities when dealing with those with special needs. Secondary legislation and a code of practice are expected soon.

Two new documents have produced welcome clarification and additions recently too. These are “Co-operating to Safeguard Children 2016” and “Safeguarding and Child Protection in Schools – A Guide for Schools”. The former document provides the overarching policy framework for safeguarding children and young people in the statutory, private, independent, community, voluntary and faith sectors. The latter publication provides wide ranging guidance on safeguarding and child protection within the school environment. It is relevant to Board of Governors, Principals and all staff including paid and unpaid, non teaching staff and volunteers.

Significantly the two documents set out an additional type of child abuse that of Exploitation This is defined as :

the intentional ill-treatment, manipulation or abuse of power and control over a child or young person; to take selfish or unfair advantage of a child or young person or situation, for personal gain. It may manifest itself in many forms such as child labour, slavery, servitude, engagement in criminal activity, begging, benefit or other financial fraud or child trafficking. It extends to the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of children for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation can be sexual in nature”.

Whilst many of the activities now captured by this new definition would have fallen under one or more of the previous four abuse categories this development is to be welcomed. 

Legal-Island’s own e-learning module on Safeguarding in Northern Ireland Schools is now by far the most popular online resource tool in the area of child protection here and regarded by many as one of the most important developments in training in this critical area for a very long time.