Judge top tips from Helen Gillett

Double Award winner and one of our Judges this year, Helen Gillett shares her top tips for entering the awards

Helen Gillett, former CEO of Affinity for Business, won The Best Mental Health Initiative SME and The Leadership Award at the 2019 Not A Red Card Awards. We caught up with Helen to find out about her new role with Orbit Group and to ask her to share her top tips for those entering the Not A Red Card Awards this year.

Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do…

Up until the end of March 2020 I was CEO at Affinity for Business. Affinity for Business was acquired by a competitor at the end of March 2019 and having managed that transition, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to dig deeper into what is possible around mental health in the workplace – the thinking is really developing fast with lockdown as a catalyst. I’m continuing to support Orbit Housing Group as a Non-Executive Director, as well as advising and mentoring a number of organisations and people who’ve asked for help.

I’m passionate about diversity and inclusion, and mental health and well-being. And as a leader I take those passions into my role, and strongly advocate for creating a work environment where people can be their best. I believe in role modelling in an open and honest way and love a challenge and any opportunity to learn – both for me personally and for the business. I frequently speak about leadership, resilience, mental health, and customer service, and also volunteer as an ambassador for Women on Boards.

You won two Awards last year! How did winning make you feel and has anything changed as a result?

Winning was amazing. I was so inspired the year before when we were shortlisted and came along to the awards day – we heard from so many incredible organisations, teams, and individuals that day. It really brought it home how much was possible and motivated me to think bigger about what we could make happen at Affinity for Business. Going to the Not A Red Card Forum and Awards last year and winning both awards blew me away really. I was so very proud of the recognition for the whole business.

The individual award was icing on the cake - it made me very emotional! Reflecting afterwards on the distance we had travelled from when we first started focusing properly on mental health, it seemed unreal really. I think the fact that a small business with very little spare budget could do so much speaks volumes and hopefully has been inspiring for others. In terms of what changed, I think in the months afterwards it gave impetus to our efforts and helped the whole business believe in what we could achieve. For me personally, my interest and energy around the area has only intensified.

This year you are on the other side as a Not A Red Card Award Judge. What are you most excited about?

I’m looking forward to learning from the entries - I fully expect to see some innovative and inspiring work. That excites me as I love to learn. I’m also looking forward to seeing progress - I feel things are moving on pretty fast and we’re beyond just talking about mental health or ‘raising awareness’. I also love personal stories, so I can’t wait to hear those.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about entering the Not A Red Card Awards?

Go for it. Tell your story. Don’t underestimate what you’ve achieved, share what you’ve learned, warts and all (there’s no way it’s all gone perfectly, failures aid learning). Also, don’t worry about whether you deserve it. I think especially for individuals it can feel odd to tell these stories for the ‘gain’ of an award, devaluing it in some way. But that isn’t the case. We need these stories for inspiration and motivation, they really make a huge difference.

What are your top tips for either an individual, or an organisation entering the Not A Red Card Awards?

Think about impacts - what did you learn, what surprised you about the impact you’ve had? What was your inspiration and what did you have to overcome to make progress? Use straightforward, plain language and make it relatable, personal. Mental Health is about human beings, so help us connect with the humans involved in what you are doing.


Enter the Not A Red Card Awards now to celebrate excellence in workplace mental health

The Best Mental Health Initiative SME is for organisations who have implemented a programme that enabled employees and employers to discuss, learn and take action towards addressing mental health in the workplace.

The Leadership Award is for a business leader who has utilised their senior position to positively push boundaries around the attitude or action of their company or colleagues.

These awards, along with 4 other categories, are all open for submission, by any business small or large. Entries are open until 14 August 2020.

Find out more about the Not A Red Card Awards and enter at www.legalandgeneral.com/notaredcard/awards