Pioneering and inspirational ethnic women lead the way at the GG2 Leadership and Diversity Awards
London, March 9, 2022
ETHNIC minority women who have broken barriers and challenged prejudice in their chosen careers were among top winners at last night’s annual GG2 Leadership and Diversity Awards in association with pladis.
KPMG chair Bina Mehta, Captain Harpreet Chandi, HHJ Kaly Kaul QC, and Leigh Day Solicitors Partner Jacqueline McKenzie won top awards at the annual celebration of Britain’s ethnic minority talent.
Mehta took home the coveted GG2 Hammer Award, presented to a person who has smashed the proverbial glass ceiling, for her rise to the head of KPMG UK, becoming the first female to head the 150-year-old company.
In her acceptance speech, Mehta who is passionate advocate for greater gender and ethnic diversity, “I want all the young women and girls out there to know their dreams are possible. They will face obstacles, like I have, but if they persevere and work hard, they will come through and achieve great things.”
Captain Preet Chandi won the GG2 Inspire Award for being the first woman of colour to trek solo to the South Pole. Nicknamed “Polar Preet”, Captain Chandi has spoken of overcoming cultural prejudice within the community and how she pushed boundaries.
“We can do so much, and people are breaking different boundaries,” Captain Chandi said.
Now in its 23rd year, the GG2 Leadership and Diversity Awards gala dinner is the leading event celebrating the success of ethnic communities in Britain.
The awards are hosted by the Asian Media Group (AMG), Britain’s biggest Asian publishing house with a stable of market leading titles which include Garavi Gujarat and Eastern Eye news weeklies, as well as Asian Trader and Pharmacy Business magazines.
The evening also saw the launch of the GG2 Power List, a compilation of the 101 most influential British Asians. This year’s list, topped by Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP, saw 32 women among the 101 entries.
Addressing the 550-strong audience in central London, AMG group managing editor, Kalpesh Solanki, said, “The GG2 Leadership Awards spotlight extraordinary individuals working against immense odds.
“We highlight the work of remarkable people and shine a light on their achievements so others can follow in their footsteps.” This year’s awards, which coincided with International Women’s Day, celebrated women like McKenzie, a respected human rights lawyer, who won the GG2 Outstanding Achievement in Law Award for spending years fighting for justice for 200 victims of the Windrush scandal.
When England players Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were shamefully racially abused on social media following their penalty misses in the Euro 2020 final, three women, Amna Abdullatif, Huda Jawad and Shaista Aziz – known as the Three Hijabis – launched a petition to ban racists from the game. Their campaign struck a chord, reaching more than a million people in just 48 hours. Their achievements were recognised with the GG2 Spirit in the Community Award.
The GG2 Young Achiever Award went to Soma Sara who went onto Instagram shortly after the broadcast of the drama series, I May Destroy You, by Michaela Coel and created Everyone’s Invited – a call for women and girls to anonymously share their experiences of rape culture. Shockingly, it came to light that in nearly 3,000 schools, girls reported being routinely abused. Since March last year over 51,000 anonymous testimonies have been submitted to government with the aim of developing sustainable solutions.
Judge Kaly Kaul QC, who founded the Judicial Support Network, took the GG2 Woman of the Year Award, for her work in giving a much valued, and a much-needed voice to those justices who feel too intimidated and bullied into silence by the judiciary, too scared to speak up for their rights.
In all, 20 awards were presented on the evening.
Anti-racism campaigner Azeem Rafiq collected the GG2 Pride of Britain Award for his brave and tireless work to expose prejudice at Yorkshire and English cricket. His explosive testimony in a parliamentary select committee exposed the shocking issues in the game.
He vowed to continue to bring about long-standing change. “I will continue to fight,” he said after collecting his award. “There are still too many people at Yorkshire, at the ECB who want to brush things under the carpet. They are not willing to tackle obvious racism within the game.”
Lord Karan Bilimoria, chairman and founder of Cobra Beer Partnership and president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), was the recipient of the inaugural GG2 Ram Solanki Beacon Award, named after the late founder of Asian Media Group (AMG) Ramniklal Solanki CBE.
Born into a military family, Lord Bilimoria campaigned tirelessly and raised funds to build a memorial to recognise the contribution of the five million men and women from the Indian subcontinent, Africa and Caribbean who served in the two world wars.
A keen and passionate voice in the cause of equality and diversity, he smashed through another glass ceiling in June 2020 when he became the first non-white president of the Confederation of British Industry.
During his tenure, he has not only been a powerful advocate for business, but he has also put diversity and inclusion firmly on the agenda in the boardrooms of corporate Britain, with his Change the Ratio initiative.
“This is one of the proudest moments of my life,” said an emotional Lord Bilimoria. “To receive this award, in memory of a great man in Ramniklal Solanki, is an absolute honour.”
Lord Bilimoria, Mehta and Air Vice Marshall Maria Byford Qhds, Chief of Staff Personnel, Royal Air Force took part in a panel discussion, talking about their experiences of breaking barriers.
Kick it Out chairman Sanjay Bhandari collected the GG2 Diversity Champion of the Year for his work in tackling racism in football.
Pladis’ Salman Amin was awarded the GG2 CEO of the Year. Amin has been credited with reviving the company, making global efforts to put diversity and inclusion at the top of the agenda, not being afraid of tackling difficult issues head on and invigorating everyone to the good fight.
Businessman and philanthropist Vraj Pankhania, the founder of Westcombe Homes Group and Westcombe Foundation, was named the GG2 Social Entrepreneur of the Year. Pankhania, who has built a successful multi-million pound business, has built schools and hospitals in India, Nepal and Kenya, and also donated vital medical equipment to help cancer patients in developing countries.
The GG2 Outstanding Achievement in Science went to Professor Sir Shankar Balasubramanian, whose work and inventions have been applied to help treat many human diseases giving hope to millions.
And Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta, Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Cambridge, was the GG2 Man of the Year. His Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review recognises the importance of nature and how it affects economic activity.
Guests at the gala dinner also raised funds for refugees of the Ukrainian conflict. The GG2 Leadership and Diversity Awards, in association with pladis, were sponsored by the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, the Army, Daily Mail, Morningside Pharmaceuticals and Maniyar Capital.
Former BBC and Sky News presenter Lukwesa Burak was the master of ceremonies at the event, held at the Westminster Bridge Park Plaza on Tuesday (8).
The full list of winners:
GG2 D&I Initiative Award
Awarded to an individual or organisation for outstanding work in implementing an initiative with diversity and inclusion at its heart. WINNER: School of Marketing and its GEN Z programme
GG2 Marketing Campaign of the Year
Awarded to an organisation who has made an outstanding and meaningful marketing campaign to promote the values of equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
WINNER: GottaBe! Marketing
GG2 Advertising Agency of the Year
Presented to an organisation who has made an outstanding contribution to their clients’ successes and built a strong culture of creativity and originality.
WINNER: Mediareach Advertising
GG2 Local Government Award
Awarded to a local council or government department for outstanding work in putting diversity higher up the agenda and promoting the values of equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
WINNER: Islington Council
GG2 Diversity Champion of the Year
Awarded to an individual or organisation for outstanding work in putting diversity higher up the agenda and promoting the values of equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
WINNER: Sanjay Bhandari, Chair, Kick It Out
GG2 CEO of the Year
Awarded to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership, brings about change, innovation, and built a culture of belonging and inclusion across the organisation.
WINNER: Salman Amin, Pladis
GG2 Ram Solanki Beacon Award
Presented to an inspiring individual for exceptional contribution to Britain and ethnic communities.
WINNER: Lord Karan Bilimoria CBE DL Chairman and Founder of Cobra Beer Partnership and President of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI)
GG2 Spirit in the Community Award supported by Royal Navy
Awarded to an individual or organisation for outstanding work in the community.
WINNER: Amna Abdullatif, Huda Jawad and Shaista Aziz Founders, The Three Hijabis
GG2 Young Journalist of the Year supported by Daily Mail
Awarded for outstanding work in the media.
WINNER: Inzamam Rashid, Correspondent, Sky News
GG2 Inspire Award supported by the British Army
Presented to an individual or organisation for outstanding work in the community, which has served to inspire young people.
WINNER: Captain Preet Chandi, Physiotherapist, British Army
GG2 Achievement through Adversity supported by Maniyar Capital
Awarded to an individual who has achieved a high level of success despite difficult circumstances.
WINNER: Waheed Arian, Doctor and Founder, Arian Teleheal International Telemedicine Charity
GG2 Young Achiever Award supported by the Royal Air Force
Presented to a young person aged 35 or under who has demonstrated outstanding leadership, brings about change and who is an inspiration to communities.
WINNER: Soma Sara, Founder and CEO, Everyone’s Invited
GG2 Outstanding Achievement in Science supported by Morningside Pharmaceuticals
Awarded to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the world of science.
WINNER: Professor Sir Shankar Balasubramanian FRS FMedSci Herchel Smith Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, University of Cambridge
GG2 Outstanding Achievement in Law
Awarded to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the legal profession.
WINNER: Jacqueline McKenzie, Partner, Leigh Day Solicitors
GG2 Social Entrepreneur Award
Awarded to a cause-driven individual or organisation who has made an outstanding and meaningful contribution to society.
WINNER: Vraj Pankhania, Founder and Chairman, Westcombe Homes Group and Westcombe Foundation
GG2 Inspirational Role Model Award
Presented to an exceptional individual who has shown resilience and passion to drive positive change in business and the community.
WINNER: Kailash Suri, Owner, Reel Cinemas
GG2 Pride of Britain Award
Awarded to an individual for outstanding contribution to society.
WINNER: Azeem Rafiq, Anti-Racism Campaigner and Former Professional Cricketer
GG2 Woman of the Year supported by Maniyar Capital
Awarded to an individual for consistent high achievement.
WINNER: HHJ Kaly Kaul QC Circuit Judge and Queen’s Counsel and Founder of the Judicial Support Network
GG2 Man of the Year
Awarded to an individual for consistent high achievement.
WINNER: Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta FRS FBA Frank Ramsey Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of Cambridge
GG2 Hammer Award in association with pladis
Awarded to an individual who has broken through the glass ceiling.
WINNER: Bina Mehta, UK Chair, KPMG
Notes to editors:
With a 50-year heritage, the Asian Media Group (AMG) is Britain’s biggest Asian publishing house with a stable a stable of market leading consumer and business titles for the Asian community in the UK and USA.
The company hosts a number of hugely successful events and award dinners affiliated with its media brands. AMG media brands include Eastern Eye newspaper, Garavi Gujarat newsweekly, Asian Trader, Pharmacy Business, Asian Hospitality, the Asian Rich List, and the GG2 Power List.
The group’s digital assets include The GG2 Diversity Hub, India Weekly, Pakistan Weekly, Bangladesh Weekly and Sri Lanka Weekly.