It’s the time of year when diversity teams across the UK are frantically getting together material and case studies for use in their Opportunity Now submission – as the deadline for submitting one’s entry to this year’s Opportunity Now Awards is tomorrow, 7th January, at 12 noon.
I’m currently working on diversity communications in an interim capacity for an investment bank and so have been drafting their ON submission since mid-December. I’ve done one before (two years ago, when my entry won the inaugural 2009 Global Award) but this year’s form is a little different, as it’s combined with the entry form for The Times Top 50 Employers for Women too – the first time that the awards have been joined together in this way (and also the first time that the Times list has come under the ON umbrella).
What this assignment is shown me is the value of an external eye. The entry form is very strictly word counted and has to be completely anonymous, with no references made to one’s business sector – so lots of use of “the company” rather than “the bank”, etc. It also has to be completely clear and unambiguous, with no use of in-house jargon or acronyms – and this has been quite a challenge, because there’s a belief that surely everyone will know what “WDIF” means?
(Answers on a postcard, or in the comments section below, if you have any idea!)
As well as the entry form, I’ve also had to write two 750 word case studies on two particular diversity initiatives; these will be assessed by the judging panel for motivation, commitment, impact and sustainability – and it’s a tough call to get across the details of the programmatic initiatives in such a tight word count whilst also ensuring that all bases are covered. This is where, I think, an external eye has been a help.
I’ve been able to chop out a lot of jargon and look at the copy as, we hope, the judges will – with clarity and understanding – without being blindsided by internal language or an innate yet unvoiced awareness of what the project is all about. I’ve also asked some awkward questions and obtained data and answers for certain sections, as I learned last time that data to support the case study is always very compelling – as is its absence.
The bank has entered for the ON awards before but never won or been shortlisted – so let’s see how they get on this year!