Equity, diversity and inclusion
At United Utilities, we really value diversity and the opportunities that brings. Our equity, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) agenda underpins all aspects of the organisation and we’re committed to providing a supportive and inclusive working environment for all of our colleagues.
We need fantastic people to enable us to deliver the best public service. To do this, we make sure we are reaching and recruiting from every community. We also strive to ensure that our colleagues can reach their full potential, by making them feel valued and included regardless of their gender, age, race, disability, sexual orientation or social background.
Traditionally, the utilities sector is male dominated. Therefore, we recognise the need to attract diverse and talented individuals with an interest in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Having a focused approach to improving the diversity of our workforce will play a key role in ensuring we have the skills required to drive the business forward.
ED&I is becoming increasingly important, and we understand the huge business benefits it brings. We want our people to bring fresh ideas and really drive innovation forward during our next regulatory period... an organisation that reflects the diverse areas it serves in the North West.
To support and be truly inclusive for our colleagues, we seek to adapt and offer a range of options to help people balance their home and work life including:
- Flexible working arrangements to support part time working and hybrid working, where possible
- Access on a number of our sites and offices to a range of facilities to support our employees with individual needs and requirements such as prayer rooms and breast feeding facilities where required
Our commitment to fostering inclusivity for all
We have a zero tolerance approach to all forms of discrimination or harassment – this type of behaviour has no place in UU for our colleagues and those who work on our behalf.
To support our approach, we have put in place a number of measures described below:
- We seek to create a workplace culture where colleagues feel safe and valued and can be who they are, with a focused approach to diversity and inclusion for all
- We have strong policies against sexual, racial, and any other forms of harassment and discrimination, developed in partnership with our trade union members
- We strongly encourage colleagues to report concerns about any such behaviour through a number of informal and formal channels including esteem in the workplace, grievance and confidential whistleblowing policies
- Any form of harassment or discrimination will be treated very seriously, whether intentional or not and would result in disciplinary action if founded
- We have substantial training programs to educate our colleagues about our policies and procedures, with a key focus on the supporting role of the line manager
- We provide support for all employees dealing with any issues of harassment or discrimination with access to a comprehensive and confidential 24/7 Employee Assistance Programme
- We are collaborating with external partners and organisations with specialist knowledge to discover new ways of working at our business and the people that work here.
Our Workforce Profile
|Share in total workforce (as % of total workforce)
|Ethnic Minority Background
|Percentage (0 - 100 %)
|Share of women in total workforce (as % of total workforce)
|Public reporting available: 35%
In our 2023, over a third (33%) of our apprentices were female and 48% of graduates were female. This is significantly higher than compared to the UK average of 24% for females in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) roles.
We have strong female role models succeeding at all levels of the organisation, including key operational roles. In 2023, we appointed our first female CEO, with 44% of our board and 40% of our executive team female.
Our commitment to the Human Rights Act can also be found in our Annual Report.
Career progression is also supported via our colleague networks, representing groups that may face specific challenges. Each of these internal networks is sponsored by senior leaders. They include:
- Ability Network – providing support and guidance to colleagues who live with various abilities and/or long term health conditions
- Including subgroups – Hearing Impairments, Menopause Support and Neurodiversity Awareness
- Gender Equality Network (GENEq) – aims to support, mentor, develop, inspire and promote the benefits of gender equality across our organisation
- Including subgroup - Parents and Carers
- Multi-cultural / Faith Network – celebrating people from all faiths, cultures, religions and backgrounds
- Including subgroup – Christians at UU
- LGBT+ Together Network – supporting all colleagues regardless of their sexual orientation
- Armed Forces Network – supporting colleagues and their families who are either ex-armed forces or currently serve as a reservist
At the Inclusive Awards 2022, we were delighted to win the Inclusive Culture Initiative Award for our ‘Better Together’ campaign (see the video below for more about Better Together) and were ranked 11th on the 2022/2023 Inclusive Top 50 UK Employers list.
Diversity and inclusion
Watch the video to hear from our employees on the progress we’ve made so far since we launched our Better Together campaign.