Sevenoaks District Council scoops national EDI Champion of the Year economic development award | Sevenoaks District Council

Sevenoaks District Council scoops national EDI Champion of the Year economic development award

Published: Monday, 27th November 2023

The Council, & its UK Shared Prosperity Fund Project Officer Aidan Kiely, have been named Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Champion of the Year at the Institute of Economic Development Annual Awards.

The awards, which were hosted in Birmingham earlier this month following the IED Annual Conference ‘Grow for Good? Reappraising the UK's Growth Objectives’, recognise achievers in the public and private sector through a series of individual, team and organisational categories.

The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Champion of the Year (EDI) award is for individuals and teams who have strived to actively promote, celebrate and raise awareness of EDI, improving under-represented involvement in economic development in their organisation or externally.

Sevenoaks’ nomination highlighted how EDI is at the forefront of the council’s approach to recruitment. Aidan, who is the economic development team’s only non-sighted employee, has helped the council to better understand how to support people with a visual impairment and to fulfil its objective to have appropriate interventions in place for colleagues when they join.

This has greatly increased the economic development team’s, and wider organisation’s, knowledge and confidence in working with visually-impaired people. From providing physical sighted guide assistance to the use of language and practical adaptations to its systems and training, in particular IT, finance and learning development, the council has also been able to give user experience feedback to central government through Aidan’s work with complex systems to meet the reporting requirements of his role.

Additionally, Aidan has attended the council’s external events and advised businesses directly in discussions on how to make their services accessible.

After the ceremony, Sevenoaks District Council Leader, Cllr Julia Thornton, said: “We are so proud to have won the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Champion of the Year award. As a council we value having a diverse workforce that reflects the communities we serve and we actively embrace the talents, perspective and skills that colleagues with disabilities bring to our organisation. I want to congratulate Aidan Kiely, our economic development team, and the wider council for winning this prestigious award.”

IED Director Bev Hurley CBE, who hosted the IED’s 40th anniversary awards evening, said:  “Many congratulations to Sevenoaks District Council and Aidan as the winner of our EDI Champion of the Year award. Our judges said this nomination showed evidence of not only driving organisational change internally, but also externally. They determined that Aidan as the individual EDI champion has delivered change from his position within the council’s economic development team, where he is responsible for co-ordination of its participation in UKSPF.”

IED Executive Director Nigel Wilcock added: “The awards dinner was a wonderful evening, following on from a highly successful conference in the day, and both were a fitting celebration of our 40th anniversary as a professional body. Congratulations to all our winners, those who our judging panel determined should be Highly Commended for their nomination, and indeed everyone who was shortlisted and took the opportunity to enter the awards. Thanks to Key Cities for sponsoring the awards evening, and our individual award sponsors for their support.”

The IED is the UK’s leading independent professional body for economic development and regeneration practitioners, supporting them to create stronger communities and sustainable economies.