Author Profile Picture

Becky Norman


Managing Editor

Read more about Becky Norman

Winners announced for Culture Pioneer Awards 2023

The time has finally arrived for us to reveal the winners of our 2023 Culture Pioneer Awards. Find out who went home with the trophies for their exceptional achievements in organisational culture change…
Culture Pioneer winners 23

Following the winner announcements at last night’s Culture Pioneers Change Leaders Forum, we can now unmask our Culture Pioneers of 2023! 

The Culture Pioneer Awards celebrates a full year of cultural growth and achievements among our selected organisations, and the victors for our Wellbeing, Inclusion, Learning and Brand categories are revealed below. A huge congratulations to those who bagged the trophies – your cultural transformations displayed agility, curiosity and genuine impact. 

Our heartfelt thanks and congratulations goes out to our shortlist as well – the decision was tough with such high-quality submissions for our judges to choose from, and your achievements did not go unnoticed. 

So here they are… the winners of 2023.

Wellbeing Award Winner


We see wellbeing as part of everyday life at WRAP and make efforts to normalise discussions around mental health and wellbeing.

As not-for-profit WRAP continues to grow its impact on climate action, it’s also growing its 200-strong workforce, and its focus on a culture of wellbeing.

WRAP has woven wellbeing considerations into multiple areas of the business, in a genuinely holistic and inclusive approach that impressed our judges. Through setting up its FREDIE (Fairness, Respect, Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Engagement) Network, the organisation demonstrated executive-led commitment to openness, trust, autonomy and respect.

The organisation’s flexible working policy empowers individuals to work at their best, when best. What’s more, self-managed employee support groups have inspired menopause cafes and safe spaces for other health-related conversations.

WRAP is committed to offering wellness action plans within performance and development reviews, and the not-for-profit’s reward framework has a distinct section for health and wellbeing. Its commitment went as far as training employees as dedicated Mental Health First Aiders to cover more ground within its growing workforce.

Karen Liebenguth

“WRAP shows a wholehearted commitment to creating a genuine culture of wellbeing, which is endorsed and modelled by the executive team.”

Karen Liebenguth, Culture Pioneers judge, leadership coach, pioneer of coaching outdoors, mindfulness trainer

Brand Award Winner

Chivas Brother logo

The Scottish land, water and air are integral to our whiskies, as are the people who help make them.

As one of the world’s biggest wine and spirits groups, this Scotch whisky producer has a rich heritage and global reach. Its 1,900-strong workforce includes multiple generations of families loyal to Chivas Brothers (a Pernod Ricard business) – some of whom have been there for over 30 years.

Conviviality (collaborating and being social) lies at the heart of its culture, as does caring for people and the planet, with ambitious carbon-neutral goals in motion. But this was previously not articulated externally, leaving Scotch fans not knowing the people behind the product.

To rectify this, the organisation worked with consultancy scarlettabbott to create a compelling employee value proposition (EVP) that touches every part of the employee and consumer experience. These efforts are in full motion and the company has seen engagement levels and financial performance improve, alongside happy Scotch drinkers!

Debra Corey

“The work Chivas Brothers completed on their EVP, among a variety of other initiatives, shows that they are truly committed to using their brand and values to help their people and business.”

Debra Corey, Culture Pioneers judge, Chief Pay it Forward Officer, Speaker, Author and Consultant DebCo HR LTD

Inclusion Award Winner

Cultural change is a marathon, not a sprint.

Washwood Heath Multi Academy Trust is a family of seven schools serving diverse communities within areas of high deprivation in East Birmingham. Already committed to embracing diversity, the Trust aspired to go one step further through embedding a culture of inclusion and belonging.

Led from the front by the CEO and Director of People, the Trust implemented a plethora of impactful initiatives in line with its robust diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) action plan. Collective responsibility was established within a new senior leadership infrastructure, DEIB champions were appointed and a new member of the people team was recruited – all to ensure the right level of resource and distributed ownership for its diversity and inclusion plans. 

One of many key highlights was the Trust’s efforts to fight stigma around mispronouncing names. The academy launched a campaign and produced a video as part of Race Equality Week to support its dedication to belonging and inclusion.

Ultimately, the Trust’s efforts are reflected in UNICEF awarding six of the schools with its “Rights Respecting” Gold awards (the seventh school achieving a Silver award). This accolade demonstrates that the pupils have a clear understanding of cultures that are different to their own.

Shakil Butt

“This was an excellent entry. Washwood Heath Multi Academy Trust demonstrated a clear link between DEIB and how it is relevant strategically, leading to positive outcomes for employees and organisation.”

Shakil Butt, Culture Pioneers judge, D&I Specialist and Founder of HR Hero for Hire Ltd.

Learning Award Winner

Coleg Sir Gar and Coleg Ceredigion

We are proud that curiosity is becoming our language.

In 2019, Coleg Sir Gar and Coleg Ceredigion launched an annual action research programme to nurture a culture of curiosity among its teaching staff. The college’s long-term mission is for all learners to be taught by individuals who are themselves invested in lifelong learning – who are committed and energised to continually develop their own practice.

Colleagues were invited to take part in a research project of their choice – one that inspired, motivated and intrigued them. Two hours a week were opened up for the year-long projects, which included guest speaker programmes, technique workshops and peer review groups. 

The programme culminated in the launch of an online platform to share key learnings alongside a Festival of Practice, which included interactive sessions to spark curiosity among fellow teaching staff.

By giving employees the opportunity to reflect on and explore new avenues of their specialism, the college is nurturing a culture of lifelong learning that ripples from teachers down to students.

Laura Overton

“Coleg Sir Gar and Coleg Ceredigion is supporting a much wider bespoke pathway to professional development. The meta skills of learning to learn are essential for all new students to be successful in their careers, and this programme has the potential to really change lives by changing the attitudes and perspectives of staff.”

Laura Overton, Culture Pioneers judge, Author, facilitator & award winning analyst, Founder of learning changemaker

Pioneers of culture change

Congratulations, once again, to our 2023 Culture Pioneer Award winners: WRAP, Chivas Brothers, Washwood Heath Multi Academy Trust and Coleg Sir Gar and Coleg Ceredigion!

Entries for our 2024 Culture Pioneer Awards will open in Early April – so watch this space!

Our Culture Pioneers sponsors
Author Profile Picture
Becky Norman

Managing Editor

Read more from Becky Norman

Get the latest from HRZone.

Subscribe to expert insights on how to create a better workplace for both your business and its people.


Thank you.