Recruiting from a diverse talent pool

As part of National Inclusion Week 2018, Elaine Billington, our Director of Human Resources Operations, shares her thoughts on the importance of recruiting from a diverse talent pool.

A recent Guardian article caught my attention. It stated that in sectors such as engineering, women now make up a lower proportion of apprentices than a decade ago. For every female apprentice working within engineering, there are 25 male apprentices. And in construction, there are 56 men to every woman.

This got me thinking about the work we do at United Utilities to attract and recruit people from the most diverse talent pool. I’m proud that each year we recruit a group of talented graduates and apprentices to join our award winning schemes. In September, 12 graduates and 35 apprentices joined our learning community to kick start their careers.

We want our workforce to represent the community that we operate in and to do this, we ensure that everyone involved in recruiting on behalf of UU is alert to the need for diversity and inclusion. It makes good business sense to recruit from the broadest talent pool to ensure we have a highly skilled workforce, now and in the future.

In February 2017, we signed up to the government sponsored Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network. The network champions apprenticeships and diversity amongst employers and encourages more people from underrepresented groups, including those with disabilities, women and members of the black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, to consider apprenticeships.

We are making positive steps towards women in engineering, science and technology. We currently have 26% females in STEM related apprenticeships, compared with SEMTA, who are responsible for engineering skills for the future of the UK’s most advanced sectors, who report an average of between 5-7 %.

Since joining the ADCN over a year ago, we have radically overhauled our recruitment and screening process. This has included ensuring that all senior leaders and new managers involved in hiring have undertaken unconscious bias training, to raise awareness of how bias develops and impacts on decision making.

We have fantastic role models and ambassadors who actively re-inforce our commitment to diversity and inclusion. Jenni Croft, Graduate Civil Engineer and Abdul Ghafaar, Wastewater Field Service Engineer, are both fantastic ambassadors.

Taking action is fundamental. It ensures that women, and people from different backgrounds, have the same chances, the same support and same opportunities.