THE Galashiels branch of Tesco has taken the top prize at this year’s diversity awards, hosted on Friday by the Borders Supported Employment Network (BSEN).
Those at the ceremony in the Macdonald Cardrona Hotel heard that as well as providing additional support and long-term retention of staff with physical or emotional difficulties, the supermarket worked closely with voluntary and charitable groups.
Patrick McGlone, personnel manager at Tesco Galashiels, said: “I’m delighted that we have won the award. It’s not something that we expected.
“We try to bring people in on work placements and give them the experience of working in a big retail environment.”
A total of 22 companies were nominated for the main four categories – placement, social enterprise, recruitment and retention.
Harry Wood from brain injury charity Momentum, who is chair of the BSEN, said: “These awards are really important as they recognise the contribution that these companies make to people with disabilities and disadvantages.”
Peebles cloth manufacturer Holland & Sherry won the retention award, sponsored by Momentum, for the steps its had taken to keep an employee on its books after he suffered head injuries in a road crash two years ago.
Holland & Sherry’s operations director, David Scott, said: “This recognises what we achieved by retaining a staff member.
“It was a challenge for us and for him to maintain working practices on his return but I think it has worked out well for both of us.”
The placement award went to Selkirk’s Philiphaugh Community Café. Judges praised the diner, based at the local primary school, for its engagement with Workwise students who help out in the kitchen and front-of-house for a day each week.
The social enterprise award was won by the gardening group the Borders Green Team – a project that began five years ago at Hawick’s Katherine Elliot Centre and has grown almost as quickly as the trees and shrubs it plants.
By offering flexible working hours, arranging transport and finding positions to suit each applicant, the team provides training for about 35 workers at its various bases.
Sainsbury’s human resources manager Pamela Toward has been busy in recent times – overseeing the opening of stores in Hawick, Edinburgh and, earlier this month, in Kelso.
But she managed to take a day out of her busy schedule to collect the recruitment award which recognised the company’s engagement with local support groups over the past six months as it recruited staff for the Pinnaclehill superstore.
Ms Toward said: “Diversity in our employees is something that we look for in our workplace and we are delighted these awards have recognised this.
“It’s been a very busy few weeks in Kelso with the store just opening, but our recruitment policy has gone well.”