Innovating a Diverse Workplace: Peer Learning

Boosting growth through a focus on diversity

At VentureFest North East 2017 we started to explore issues linked to a lack of gender diversity in business. The failure to engage, support and recognise the value of women has been identified time and time again as a key barrier to business growth, regional growth and investment opportunities. Since announcing our Women in Innovation programme in partnership with Innovate UK, the North East England Chamber of Commerce and the Northstar Foundation, we’ve been working with SMEs from across the region to look at how businesses can tackle an unconscious bias to maximise business growth.

What to expect: Bringing together a mix of SMEs and larger organisations, this dynamic and practical session encourages discussion on best practice and new approaches to address the diversity issue. The room will be divided into several themes, covering:

  • Leadership, recruitment, staff retention and HR practices
  • Marketing and brand language
  • Gender targeted actions and creating a safe space.

Participants will include the morning’s keynote and panel representatives alongside, SMEs and larger organisations, including Accenture, Virgin, Greggs, CBI, NWG, Siemens, P&G, Barclays and CPI.


Dinah Bennett

International Consultants for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship

Dinah is the Director for International Consultants for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship (ICE). Her expertise has added value to economic policy and practice; institutional leadership and entrepreneurship; and engagement with the small business community.

She is the Global Lead for Entrepreneurship for The Women’s Economic Imperative and a Trustee of the Millin Charity in Newcastle.

Sarah Salter

Northumbrian Water Group

Over the course of her career, Sarah has been a HR Director in three different sectors, working for Nestle, Northern Foods, Places for People and, since 2011, Northumbrian Water. She has broadened her experience in sales and marketing, business transformation and programme office roles throughout her career.

Sarah is a Trustee of Beamish Museum, establishing the Business Friends of Beamish five years ago; she sits on the North East Women Leaders Partnership Board and also the Common Purpose Advisory Group, where she has supported the development of leaders in the North East for the last seven years.