The Scottish Diversity Awards has a new charity partner after riding for the disabled group Equi-Power withdrew its support
A charity has severed ties with a cash-raking awards company which has targetted Scotland's third sector.
Equi-Power was due to be the charity partner of the Scottish Diversity Awards, which wil take place at the Trades Hall in Glasgow tomorrow (Thursday, 28 February).
However the Stirlingshire-based group – which is aiming to create a permanent horse riding for the disabled facility in central Scotland – withdrew amid criticism over the awards’ business model and concern over the nomination process.
Smart Works, which helps women into the workplace by providing them with business attire and interview advice, has been announced as Equi-Power’s replacement as charity partner.
Creative Oceanic, the private company staging the awards, had boasted about Equi-Power's involvement.
But an Equi-Power spokeswoman said: “We are grateful to the organisers for their offer to be their charity partner. Unfortunately, we just didn’t feel able to give the event adequate support, or to promote it in a way that would benefit both our own charity and those involved. We are delighted that another charity can benefit from the event and wish everyone good luck on the night.”
A spokeswoman for awards’ organisers Creative Oceanic confirmed Equi-Power had been replaced.
“Smart Works have previously acted as our charity partner for the Scottish Women’s Awards 2018, the English Women’s Awards North 2018 and the English Women’s Awards Midlands 2018,” she said.
“In 2018, Oceanic Group raised £50,055 for 15 charity partners across nine different cities; at Creative Oceanic, we are both honoured to support a range of charities, and we proudly use our platform to raise funds for a variety of important causes.”
Creative Oceanic sets up ceremonies for the likes of the wedding and hairdressing industries and gives out gongs from a vast list of categories and nominees - who either pay for their own ticket or buy tickets for guests.
In 2017 TFN revealed that it had started targeting Scotland’s third sector as it sees it as a lucrative market.
Spokesman Joe Khan told us: “We are here to make money, let me make that absolutely clear. We are a private company. We identify new markets we can target, we have the event to pay for, we have to make sure that everything is being done properly. That’s out in the open, it’s not something we hide behind. We run projects to make money.”
It wascondemned for its money-grabbing approach and its opaque nominations process by a range of leading charity figures, including Dave Scott of Nil By Mouth and Sally Witcher of Inclusion Scotland.
In 2018, it staged a similar ceremony called the Scottish Women's Awards, using its usual method.
This was condemned by the likes of Engender and the Young Women's Movement.
The Scottish Diversity Awardsre-emerged in mid-January when posts appeared on a Facebook page.
This was followed by calls to those allegedly nominated.
Creative Oceanic's tried and tested tactic is to cast its net widely to maximise income.
This year’s ceremony will see 24 different awards handed out, with more than 190 organisations or individuals on the nominee list. Categories range from International Charity of the Year to Council of the Year.
For context, the last Scottish Charity Awards, which is run by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations and has an open and clear nominations process, had just eight categories.
Details on the cost of tickets are limited, however it is understood that tickets were priced £75 a head the last time the awards took place in 2017. The Trades Hall can cater for up to 250 guests.
Creative Oceanic has consistently failed to provide details about its nomination process – in 2017, when pressed by TFN, Mr Khan said nominations are sought across Oceanic's "social media channels" before they are shortlisted, but did not provide further details. The company failed to do so again when asked in January. In response to a blog on the TFN website last month, the company said its nominations process is “public information”.
TFN couldn’t find much evidence of social media sourcing – apart from a now closed surveymonkey link which appeared on Facebook last September.
A spokesperson for the Scottish Diversity Awards 2019 said: “Our inaugural successful attempt in 2017 was the impetus for us to deliver the Scottish Diversity Awards again, as we believe now, more than ever, diversity and social inclusion need to be recognised and celebrated in Scotland.
“The awards will shine the spotlight on the challenges many individuals and minority groups face nowadays, such as the lack of equal opportunities for people from LGBT communities, people with disabilities and ethnic minorities among others.”