For the past 14 years the Chamber has hosted the Halifax Business Awards, and has it ever evolved since year one! We started with only three categories and have now doubled that by growing to six diverse categories, representative of business in Halifax. We’ve also gained a reputation of having truly fantastic finalists.
One of the things that has remained consistent over the past 14 years – that you may not think about – is the Chamber’s dedication to ensuring that the judging process is removed from the hands of Chamber staff, and instead rests with an arms-length judging committee. This provides transparency and a collective ability for the judges to review the submissions with confidence and a clear conscience.
Each year in preparation for the Awards, we select a group of six committee members who generously volunteer their time towards celebrating business success – and this is no small task. We average about 100 submissions each year, which the judges are asked to review and score in a small time frame in order to determine our finalists and overall winners. It’s always advised that they block a few hours a day for a one-to-two-week period so they aren’t overwhelmed. But hey, there’s a lot of great business happening in Halifax!
Our judges come from a variety of backgrounds and have experiences that influence how they score and rank the nominees. Some work in the banking industry, some work in public relations and we even have some in the events world. Before the judges are officially accepted as a part of the committee, they go a formal process of completing and signing a Conflict of Interest Policy and a Confidentiality Agreement. Both of these documents protect the judges and the Chamber from entering into a potentially sticky situation.
For example, the Conflict of Interest Policy protects Judge A, who works for Bank 123, from being put in the unfortunate situation of judging Company Z, with whom they’ve worked since Company Z’s inception. They simply put forward that they have a conflict of interest with this company, and do not score them. The average score of the submission of the entire judging committee is what’s used for the final rankings. In this example, the average score would be from 5 judges instead of 6.
The Confidentiality Agreement stops the judges from sharing their scores and final rankings with the public. They do have the ability to discuss scores amongst themselves and are informed of the final rankings of the finalists to ensure that there are no discrepancies. The Chamber guards this secret information until the night of the Awards, when the names of the winners are announced on stage. Most Chamber staff members (outside of the core events team) aren’t even aware of the winners until that night!
While the whole event is about celebrating Halifax’s best in business, we want to make sure we do it honestly and fairly so that all great businesses have the opportunity to be recognized. If you have an idea on how we can improve the process, I’d love to hear from you!
Melissa Muise is the Chamber’s Public Relations Coordinator, working with events, communications and sponsorship to ensure that we’re continuously strengthening relationships and creating new opportunities for growth. She’s also busy editing and creating communications materials for numerous resources and can be seen assisting with finishing touches at many events. Melissa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (902) 481-1238.