Each year Amazon’s Black Employee Network (BEN) come together to celebrate Black employees across the UK Operations network at the “That’s BENtastic” awards. Now in its third year, this was the first in-person ceremony and took place at BHX4 in Coventry.

The Black Employee Network (BEN) is one of 13 affinity groups at Amazon and is open to Black employees and allies. Their mission at Amazon is to recruit, retain, and empower Black employees across the business. BEN UK Ops is a branch of the network specifically for employees in the operational side of the business. They were also named Amazon’s Affinity Group of the Year for 2023.

The BENtastic awards recognise employees from across the country for the exceptional work they do, both in the workplace and in their communities. Employees are nominated by their peers, with regional winners each receiving a £500 prize while two national winners each receive a £1,000 prize.

There were many impressive nominations across the business this year, making the judging incredibly difficult.

Let’s meet this year’s BENtastic winners:

Medhane Ogbagebriel, Coventry

Medhane Ogbagebriel at the BENtastic awards

Medhane was nominated for the BENtastic award for his great efforts to support an Eritrean community group in Coventry.

He was born in the 1970s in a small village in Eritrea and moved to the UK in 2005 where he started a community group which is open to Eritrean asylum seekers and the local Black community, including several colleagues from BHX4. Under Medhane's guidance, this group helped numerous Eritreans settle in the UK by offering settlement assistance, English language courses, support finding employment, housing, and food. Medhane continues to lead this community group in Coventry and we are thrilled to be able to recognise his efforts through the BENtastic awards!

Speaking on his BENtastic win, Medhane said: “I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for the incredible recognition I received as a BENtastic winner. This acknowledgment took me by surprise, and I am truly touched by the honour. I want to extend my sincere appreciation to the entire leadership team at Coventry for their unwavering support and dedication to the Black community. Looking ahead, I am eager to collaborate and work closely with the BEN board to solidify our outreach and support to the Eritrean and Black community as a whole.”

Silvain Djomo, Plymouth

Silvain Djomo at BENtastic awards 2023

Silvain was nominated for his brilliant work supporting refugees become integrated in his local community in Plymouth. He organises various events to support, educate and help Black people in Plymouth, these range from swimming lessons and networking to helping people to apply for their provisional driving license.

So far, he has helped more than 40 people in his community, and his work has led to a meeting with the local Mayor to expand his work. This work, which Silvain does outside of his day job, is truly commendable and we are delighted to be able to recognise him with the BENtastic award.

Silvain says: “As someone who was an asylum seeker, I’m grateful to be in a position to now be one of the people helping the Black community to grow.

It is important to me that I make a positive impact with my community and empower the people around me. I am glad Amazon has given me the opportunity to share and celebrate my work through the BENtastic awards and I hope it inspires other people to do the same.”

Ramona Williams, Chair of BEN UK Ops said: “The BENtastic awards are a fantastic opportunity for our BEN colleagues across the country to be spotlighted for the awesome work that they do both in the business and for their local communities. I am incredibly proud of this years’ winners, and of all those that were nominated.”

To close out the night there was a mini carnival with music, dancing and a Caribbean and African style buffet.

Amazon has 13 affinity groups which play an important role in bringing Amazon employees together and creating a sense of community globally while encouraging inclusivity and diversity.

Find out more about diversity at Amazon.