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Highland Business Women Awards return in August with virtual event

By Features Reporter

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HBW members will again gather virtually in August to toast its awards winners.
HBW members will again gather virtually in August to toast its awards winners.

It may have been a challenging year for most businesses, but Highland Business Women (HBW) still believe there is much to celebrate in the way the Highland business community has responded to the crisis.

The HBW Awards return in August – again in online form – and while there is no intention of allowing the Covid crisis to overshadow this year’s event, two new categories have been added to the usual awards to reflect how the Highland business community has risen to this challenge. These are the business resilience and the digital innovation awards.

“The new categories reflect how businesses have managed to thrive, despite everything,” HBW president Màiri Macdonald explained.

HBW is itself an example of how it has been able to use digital technology to meet the challenges imposed by the pandemic.

“All our events are now held virtually, allowing us to open up to a whole new audience,” Màiri said.

“A lot of businesses have also used digital technology to adapt, whether by turning to ecommerce or hosting events online or embracing new platforms, so we really wanted the awards to reflect that and what people have done to adapt.”

With more time to prepare for this year’s virtual event, the 2021 awards will be more interactive than their 2020 counterpart with live speakers and less of a pre-recorded element.

As with the 2020 virtual awards, HBW members are being invited to dress for the occasion and Màiri hopes that the easing of restrictions will also allow members to watch the awards together in small groups.

“We all miss face to face gatherings, but there is no reason why we can’t still celebrate this year,” she added.

“This year’s awards have a rainbow theme because we want to make them as inclusive as possible. That has been a real focus for us over the last 12 months and making the awards digital has really opened them up and accessible for everybody.”

One of the most eagerly anticipated categories is the new business award, which this year is being sponsored by Business Gateway.

Highland manager Danny Gallagher, commented that Business Gateway was delighted to support the award, particularly as the entrepreneurial spirit is still booming among Highland women in the face of the pandemic challenges.

“As Scotland’s national business support service, Business Gateway plays a crucial role in driving growth, skills, regeneration and employment across the Highlands,” he said.

“Over the last year the Business Gateway Highland service has provided significant support helping businesses to diversify, work differently, operate digitally and assisted with government business grants allowing businesses to survive.”

This includes delivering 130 of its core business webinars to over 800 attendees and helping a further 900 attendees access digital support through its DigitalBoost programme, he added.

“All Business Gateway Highland services are free and we have supported more than 2000 Highland businesses in the last year,” he continued.

“Our website provides useful advice – supporting all Highland businesses to thrive.”

The 2021 HBW Awards will take place online on Thursday, August 26.

Potential entrants have until Friday, August 6, to apply for any of the 10 open categories.

Full information here.

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