The Responsible Business Awards seek to recognise and reward firms in Northern Ireland that are embracing the journey to build better workforces, create a sustainable economy and healthy communities. In other words, to be a responsible business. They are open to organisations – large and small – from any sector from across Northern Ireland.

Why enter?

The Responsible Business Awards are our annual celebration and recognition of responsible business, helping to encourage new ways of thinking and inspiring others to take action. Each time a business applies for a Responsible Business Award, it is raising the bar for others.

Winning a responsible business award raises the reputation of your organisation, establishing your business as a great place to work as you take care of your people, the planet and the places where you operate.

The Awards are free to enter and every business, no matter how big or small, can enter one of the eleven open categories. Those companies achieving CORE – The Standard for Responsible Business can also apply for the top award, NI Responsible Company of the Year.

2020 Awards Timeline

  • Closing date for applications: 28 February 2020
  • Judging days: 21 and 22 April 2020
  • Gala night: 28 May 2020

2020 Categories

NI Responsible Company of the Year Award, sponsored by Danske Bank

For the company that best demonstrates positive impacts across its people, the planet and the places where it operates and advocates the benefits to encourage others to follow

Entry to this category is open only to companies that have achieved CORE: The Standard for Responsible Business and Business in the Community will directly invite all those that are eligible to enter.

Find out more about CORE

2019 Winner: Danske Bank

Age at Work Champion, in partnership with Age NI

For the organisation that best demonstrates its commitment and action to recruit, retrain and retain people 50+

Download application here

Diversity & Inclusion Award, sponsored by Belfast Harbour

For the organisation that best demonstrates excellence in creating and developing a diverse and inclusive workplace which offers opportunities for all.

Download application here

2019 Winner: Danske Bank


Education Partnership Award, sponsored by Allen & Overy

For the organisation that best demonstrates how its actions have helped raise the aspirations and achievements of young people (aged 4-19) through a solid business education partnership.

Download application here

2019 Winner: Esri Ireland


Employability and Jobs Award, sponsored by George Best Belfast City Airport

For the organisation that best removes barriers to work and helps people thrive in meaningful employment.

Download application here

2019 Winner: GRAHAM/Farrans Joint Venture

Environmental Leadership Award, sponsored by Heron Bros.

For the organisation that best demonstrates significant commitment and contribution to environmental sustainability in Northern Ireland through an initiative or its activities.

Download application here

2019 Winner: Ulster University

Investing in your Community Award, sponsored by Arthur Cox

For the business that best works in partnership with local communities to address long-term social and economic needs

Download application here

2019 Winner: Apex Housing Association


One-to-Watch Award, sponsored by Ciena

For a *recently joined* Business in the Community member that has made significant progress in the development and implementation of its CR strategy *This category is open to members who joined from January 2018 onwards only.

Download application here

2019 Winner: ABP Food Group


Responsible Digital Innovation Award, in partnership with Digital DNA

For the organisation that can best demonstrate how it has used digital solutions in a project or initiative that in turn tackle a social or environmental issue.

Download application here

2019 Winner: Danske Bank


Responsible Product/Service Award, sponsored by Translink

Recognising organisations that are developing innovative products or services that inspire responsible customer behaviour and encourage more sustainable lifestyle.

Download application here

2019 Winner: Translink

Wellbeing at Work Award, sponsored by Larne Port

For the organisation that demonstrates excellence in inspiring and supporting its employees to prioritise their health and wellbeing and embrace positive lifestyle choices.

Download application here

2019 Winner: Danske Bank


If you have trouble downloading the Awards applications, please email Heather Glass.

To find out more, please email Helen Bowman or call (028) 9046 0606.

Highlights from 2019:

The UK Responsible Business Awards

Running alongside the awards in Northern Ireland is our UK-wide awards programme. Business in the Community’s UK Responsible Business Awards are the longest-running and most respected awards championing responsible business across the UK and abroad. To find out more, visit

"Achieving CORE was a very proud moment for the Asda team in Northern Ireland. It was recognition for the very diverse corporate responsibility commitments being made at Asda and provided an opportunity for a collective celebration of these achievements. CORE provided us with a tailor-made tool to gauge the CR progress we have made across the business and to benchmark ourselves with other leading responsible businesses in Northern Ireland. We were able to identify areas where we have been strong and also opportunities where we can do even more to help our customers, our colleagues, our supply chain, the communities around our stores, or the environment. It is now a living document within our business, guiding our corporate responsibility decision making. I would commend CORE to any business, large or small. It is a thorough process and a big commitment, but the outcomes are very informative and will help any business make the right strategic decisions."

Name, Title

"We are delighted to be involved in CORE. As a large employer in NI, the structure and discipline of the approach has helped us review our current processes and ensures that we are being a responsible business. It’s a great opportunity for us to challenge what we do and benchmark ourselves against other organisations and we are delighted to be able to develop and grow our business through the CORE process."

Lynda Fox
Senior Area Manager
Openreach NI

"Diageo’s ambition is to be the best performing, most trusted and respected consumer products company in the world and in Northern Ireland we play our part in achieving this ambition. Operating in a responsible and sustainable way every day, everywhere means that we can support our communities, protect and preserve natural resources and ensure alcohol plays a positive role in society. As such, we are delighted to have achieved gold CORE level accreditation for Diageo Northern Ireland. CORE – the standard for responsible business - has provided us with formal recognition of our commitment to ‘doing the right thing’ while helping to focus our efforts on continuous improvement."

Claire Hutchinson
Corporate Relations Manager
Diageo NI

"Achieving Core re-accreditation has allowed us to maintain our focus on our corporate social responsibility practices and give recognition to all the activities we already do in relation to CSR. It also provides reassurance to our stakeholders that the organisation takes its social responsibility seriously. I would recommend the process to other organisations as it provides a baseline from which to improve upon and look at areas in which CSR can be further embedded."


Gillian Hughes
Head of Governance

"CSR is a key focus for JP Corry, and although a long-standing culture within the business meant we had strong activity in many of the elements related to CORE, taking part in the application process has provoked a more structured approach for us. This has resulted in the formation of a formal CSR committee and we have already been able to improve staff engagement and plan out our CSR activity across a two-year programme. The learnings from the CORE process have enabled us to refine our community investment programme, which now spans a number of areas including, a paid volunteering initiative offered to all staff as well as supporting social enterprises including the Now Group and Women’s TEC to promote diversity in the construction sector. We believe CORE will generate tangible benefits for both business and society."

Ciaran McConnell
Managing Director
JP Corry

"Ulster Bank was the first bank to achieve and maintain CORE and we are delighted to have now achieved Gold accreditation in recognition of our ongoing commitment to being a responsible business. CORE has really helped us at each stage of this journey in providing an independent benchmark of our progress, a framework to learn from others’ best practices and develop our future plans for improvement. It has helped us to make a successful transition from positive intent to effective implementation of a fully integrated approach in our business, which has been positive for our customers, our colleagues and the communities which we serve. We would recommend CORE to any business seeking a clear methodology to benchmark and transform the sustainability of their business."


"Two years ago corporate social responsibility was a key area of development for Encirc, the problem was we weren’t sure how to go about it! Through our association with Business in the Community (BITC), they pointed out the things we were already doing and how they fitted into good CSR practices. Using CORE we recognised the need to formalise these activities into business strategies and policies, to developing relevant KPI for measuring performance and the need to share success to encourage others to follow the CSR route. Accepting the support of BITC through the CORE process means that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel; when it comes to CSR, BITC have it covered."


Fiacre O'Donnell
Strategic Development Director

What achieving CORE means to us

We were delighted to become the first UK airport to be recognised as a Gold Level CORE company by Business in the Community in 2018. Corporate Responsibility is central to our business and it is a real credit to our employees who have worked hard to ensure we are playing our part, as a major employer, in our local community. We are constantly striving to improve our standards and being recognised with a Gold Level CORE award is testament to the efforts of all our employees. 

Core benefits for our business

CORE helps us to identify and measure corporate responsibility activity and performance across our organisation, it also strategically supports our organisation to develop and improve our approach to corporate responsibility. As an airport, we have a wide range of interested parties. The external accreditation provided by CORE clearly validates our approach to corporate responsibility and has ensured confidence among our stakeholders – both internal and external.

I would recommend CORE to other businesses

The ten CORE assessment areas enable our company to map our entire corporate responsibility activity and performance, and also benchmark it against other organisations. At whatever level they are at, by completing the Standard companies gain a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, providing a baseline for next steps and further improvements. We began our involvement with CORE in 2016, since then it has provided a framework for us to better integrate our corporate responsibility activity into the overall business, contributing to its success. I would have no hesitation in recommending CORE to other businesses throughout NI, which will help to maintain and ensure everyone’s commitment to responsible business.