Award Dinners – Don’t Get Me Started!

Is it just me or is the award dinner industry running away with itself? Open any business magazine these days and you’re faced with page upon page of glossy articles and ‘grip and grin’ pictures of award dinners, ‘awardees’ and their so-called ‘awards’.

Another chunk of the same magazine will be taken up with details of dinners you could attend and urgent entreaties to vote for someone or push your own company or self forward, blinking, into the limelight as a winner of some spurious award – most green, most innovative, fastest growing, best or smartest or youngest or most entrepreneurial man/woman/child, best use of a plastic bag in the pursuit of carbon reduction…. and on and on. If it’s not magazines, it’s emails or websites. All pushing the same ‘awards’ agenda.

Who benefits? The hotel? Most certainly. “That’s a table of 10 at £100 a head, excellent sir and would you like to pre-select from our over-priced wine list?” The award ‘hosts’? I’d like to think they do it out of the goodness of their hearts; but really? Usually it’s a bank rewarding their loyal, but barely solvent, clients; a magazine rewarding their subscribers; a software company rewarding their biggest (and not necessarily best) resellers; or a recruitment agency rewarding anyone they can persuade to come along on the flimsiest of pretexts (see ‘plastic bag’).

I worked for a software company once. We won an award. We all trooped off to the USA, to Fargo, North Dakota (now there’s a BIG clue for some of you) and stood on stage, a few thousand pounds the poorer for the journey, and grasped our award proudly. When we returned in triumph, the company owner, who was paying for all of this, was unimpressed. “Awards are all very well”, he said “but they don’t jingle”.  

So, if anyone out there thinks we deserve an award, just stick it in the post. If it adds anything to our status in the world , we’ll tell people about it and perch it on a shelf in reception – honest. But don’t force us to come to a dinner somewhere (unless you’re picking up the tab!).

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