Gender-equality push earns United Utilities place on list of top firms

United Utilities has been recognised for its commitment to gender equality in the workplace.

The North West water company has been named among just 380 firms worldwide on Bloomberg’s 2021 Gender-Equality Index (GEI) - an internationally accepted standard for gender-equality transparency.

The GEI only lists companies with high overall performance and disclosure in five key areas: female leadership and talent pipeline, equal pay and gender pay parity, inclusive culture, sexual harassment policies and pro-women brand.  

Julie McGovern, the Warrington-based company’s head of people, said, like many companies operating in traditionally male-dominated industries, United Utilities had been making steady in-roads towards a greater and more diverse balance among its 5,600 employees.

An impressive 93% of its female employees recently said they would recommend it as a place to work and women made up half of the intake on the firm’s sought-after aspiring managers programme last year, up from 44% in 2019.

“This is not just a reporting exercise for us. We need fantastic people to deliver a great public service, and gender equality is an important part of our commitment to becoming a truly diverse and inclusive organisation. Reaching and recruiting women, and supporting them into senior roles makes sense for a responsible business. It’s getting harder to attract talent with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills in a traditionally male sector. Focussing on improving the diversity of our workforce will play a key role in ensuring we have the skills we need to drive the business forward.  Being recognised in the GEI is a sign that we are on the right track,” she said.

The announcement is the latest global recognition for United Utilities. In 2020 the firm was one of only 50 worldwide to earn a place on the Global Challenges Index (GCX) for ethical business, the only UK water company among Europe’s 850 Diversity Leaders and re-affirmed its world class status in the respected Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) for the 13th consecutive year.