Judging Panel 2021

Our esteemed panel of judges will meet to go through our Top 10 evidence submissions and deliberate on a winner for specific categories. We have collated various business leaders and diversity specialists for this task, and each member of the panel is heavily invested in ethnicity and the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic agenda, both in the workplace and the wider community. The Judging Panel only decides the winner for specific corporate categories. Celebrity and consumer categories are decided by the public – see our voting page for more information.

Talent is everywhere; opportunity is not.

Bernadette Thompson OBE

Deputy Director Inclusion, Wellbeing and Employee Engagement

Bernadette is currently the Deputy Director for Inclusion, Wellbeing and Employee Engagement in the Department for Levelling up, Housing and Communities. She joined the Civil Service in 1998, starting as a Caseworker in the Legal Aid Board, and she has held a range of roles within the Civil Service across many Government departments and agencies, including, Ministry of Justice, Home Office, Treasury Legal Aid Agency and Cabinet Office.
Bernadette will be joining NHS Barts Trust in December as their Associate Director of Inclusion.

She is a notable diversity advocate and public speaker, working with leaders across government and the public sector to drive a culture of inclusion, specifically focusing on increasing the pace on representation of Black and Minority Ethnic employees at more senior levels.

For five years, Bernadette co-chaired the multi award-winning Race to the Top G6/7 network, a community of interest network group of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) G6/7 employees across all Government departments and agencies, supporting members by helping to increase preparedness for leadership at the next level, and helping the Civil Service increase the flow of BAME staff into the Senior Civil Service (SCS). She is also a Different Woman Ambassador where she campaigns for a more inclusive gender agenda, amplifying the voices of women of colour.

In 2020 Bernadette won the Workplace Hero category in the national investing in Ethnicity Awards for championing and driving race equality and inclusion across the Civil Service. In 2021 she won one of the prestigious “We are the City” Rising Star Champion awards and in 2021, Bernadette was awarded as an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE)

Bernadette has been a Community Governor at a local infant school for over 18 years and volunteers at athletics/sports events such as 2012 Olympics, 2017 World Athletics and she is really looking forward to being a part of the 2022 Commonwealth Gamers. Bernadette’s most important job, however, is being a mother to her two children.

Jatinder Bains

Macfarlanes LLP

Jat is head of the restructuring and insolvency practice and a finance partner at Macfarlanes.

He advises on a range of debt finance transactions, acting for credit and special situations funds, corporates, sponsors, bondholders and lenders in relation to, amongst other things, workouts and restructurings, and real estate finance.

Jat is a partner champion of the Macfarlanes REACH network (race, ethnicity and cultural heritage), a forum for networking and peer support between ethnic minority staff and allies. He is also Chair of the Trainee Solicitor Committee, which has oversight for all aspects of graduate recruitment and trainee development, and a member of the firm’s Diversity Committee.

Jat was awarded the “Workplace Hero” award at the 2019 Investing in Ethnicity Awards.

Wincie Knight

ViacomCBS

Wincie Knight is VP Global Inclusion Strategy at ViacomCBS Networks International (VCNI) EMEA. She is responsible for leading VCNI’s diversity and inclusion strategy in EMEA, where she is a passionate advocate for championing a company culture centred on belonging. In the UK, and is instrumental in VCNI’s participation in Creative Diversity Network’s Project Diamond, as well as liaising with Ofcom on ViacomCBS’s diversity developments. Knight holds an MSc in Organisational Behaviour from Birkbeck, University of London where she conducted research focused on BAME employees in media organisations.

Urmi Mistry

National Grid ESO

Urmi joined National Grid in 2012 and worked with the Electricity System Operator (ESO). Over this time she held a number of roles across the business, including tender assessment, working on industry code change and reform, regulatory issues and most recently working on our early competition plan. She is currently responsible for leading and delivering our next business plan which covers our company’s activities over the April 2023 to March 2025 period. She has also a First Class BSc Honours Degree in Economics with Business.

Justin Onuekwusi

LGIM

Justin is Head of Retail Multi-Asset Funds at LGIM and a member of the Asset Allocation team which manages over £50 billion for pension schemes and savers throughout the world. He leads on the management of the team’s retail and risk-profiled multi-asset funds managing the award-winning Multi-Index Funds. Justin co-chairs the Legal & General Inclusion Team (LEGIT), which aims to create a culture that supports all of LGIM through networks and events across five key areas: leadership engagement, talent attraction and development, leadership development, marketing and communications and community engagement. Externally, Justin is an adviser to the board of City Hive Ltd, which focuses on driving diversity initiatives throughout the asset management industry. In addition, he sits on the ethnicity workstream of the industry-wide Diversity Project and is a co-founder of the movement #talkaboutblack, which focuses on creating more black senior leaders in the asset management industry and beyond as well as addressing the taboo that surrounds conversations about ethnicity. Justin is a CFA charterholder, winner of the Ethnicity Awards Future Leader category, featured on the 2020 EMpower Senior Executive Leaders List and was a finalist for the 2019 Black British Business Awards (Financial Services). Earlier this year, Justin was awarded the honour of the Freedom of the City of London, due to his work within diversity and inclusion.

Samantha Owo

Lloyds Banking Group

Sam is the Race Action Plan Lead for Lloyds Banking Group. Her accountabilities include the ongoing development and implementation of the Group’s race action plan, delivering outcomes that achieve measurable progress and maintaining a clear alignment to the Group’s overall inclusion and diversity strategies. Lloyds Banking Group is the first FTSE 100 company to make a commitment to increase representation of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic colleagues to reflect the customers we serve. In 2020, the commitment extended specifically focused on increasing Black representation in senior roles from 0.6% at senior grades to at least 3% by 2025 to align with the overall UK labour market. The group won the 2020 ‘Outstanding Employer’ category in the Investing in Ethnicity Awards.

Sam is currently Non-Executive Director on the board of ideal For All, a user-led registered charity for disabled and disadvantages people, an ambassador for ‘Women of the Future Ambassador Programme’ and Chair of Governors of Meadow Primary School. Sam is also a committee member of Breakthrough (largest gender diversity network) leading the Mentoring programme, supporting women with fulfilling their career aspirations and resulting in increased female representation in senior leadership roles within Lloyds Banking Group.

Oli O’Donoghue

HSBC UK

Oli has spent the last 20 years in the Financial Services Industry working across two major banks. Her current role at HSBC UK is Regional Director for Inner and Outer London for the branch network. Oli has always been passionate growing HSBC UK’s colleague and customer engagement and the wider societal impact that can have in local communities and beyond. Oli has a clear focus on community and volunteering, having chaired HSBC UK’s Regional Communities Committee in the South of England for the last two years, collaborating with colleagues across all business lines and functions to support local charities and funding. Oli sees driving inclusion and pro-actively working with Employee Resource Groups and Business Leaders as a key driver for meaningful change and focus on the Ethnicity Agenda.

Our esteemed panel of judges will meet to go through our Top 10 evidence submissions and deliberate on a winner for specific categories. We have collated various business leaders for this task, and each member of the panel is heavily invested in ethnicity and the BAME agenda, both in the workplace and the wider community. The Judging Panel only decides the winner for specific corporate categories. Celebrity and consumer categories are decided by the public – see our “Vote” page for more information.