Waste management companies Veolia, FCC Environment and Viridor’s parent group Pennon are among the signatories to a commitment to “attract more diverse and inclusive talent” across the utilities and energy sectors.
Launched by the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership today (11 February), the commitment aims to increase diversity by “working collaboratively as a sector to drive change”.
29 businesses have signed up to the pledge, and also include the services firms Amey and Kier – which carry out activities including waste and recycling collections.
The commitment aims to make energy and utilities businesses more inclusive employers, and ‘more representative’ of the 65 million people they serve every day.
According to statistics compiled on behalf of the group, 83% of the workforce in the utilities and energy sectors are male, compared to 47% for all sectors nationally.
“Women, people with disabilities, the BAME community and under 24s have traditionally been under-represented in the energy and utilities sector, compared to national averages,” the organisations added.
For the waste sector specifically, data suggested that 15% of the sector’s workforce is female, compared to 47% across all sectors. Meanwhile, just 4% identify as from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background, compared to 15% for all sectors.
In order to address this, the commitment will encompass five core principles “that commit to working collaboratively and sharing best practice”. These commitments are:
1. Work collaboratively as a sector to drive change, challenging ourselves to do things differently, by sharing best practice and delivering sector priorities
2. Focus on inclusion in its entirety, however our sector history requires targeted sector action to start by increasing gender, BAME and disability workforce representation.
3. Measure and be transparent about progress in our individual organisations and as a sector.
4. Ensure we create the culture we need to attract the workforce of tomorrow.
5. Be inclusive in the way we attract, recruit and develop our people.
The Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership was established in 2016 and is a collective of over 20 companies which aim to “ensure a safe, skilled and sustainable workforce provides the essential services” needed.
Marguerite Ulrich, Veolia’s chief human resources officer in the UK and Ireland, said the company welcomes the initiative and the opportunities it presents.
“At Veolia we have been working towards an inclusive organisation by growing diverse teams and we see it as a business imperative,” she said. “Studies have shown diversity of thought improves problem-solving, decision-making and even financial performance; we know that by leveraging our people’s differences we can drive innovative growth in our company and the industry.”
“Studies have shown diversity of thought improves problem-solving, decision-making and even financial performance; we know that by leveraging our people’s differences we can drive innovative growth in our company and the industry.”Marguerite Ulrich
This was echoed by Paul Taylor, group chief executive of FCC Environment, who said that the company is “delighted” to be supporting the initiative.
“As one of the UK’s leading resource and waste management businesses employing some 2,400 staff, we have always been a fair and equal employer,” he said. “Working collaboratively with peers including the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership on The Inclusion Commitment has brought into sharp focus our achievements to date and the need to go ever further to encourage diversity in its many forms and recognising the contribution all members of our team make to meeting the objectives of our business.”
David McLoughlin, managing director of utilities at services firm Amey, said that ensuring that the company is inclusive is an important principle of business.
He said: “We were the first company in our sector to achieve Leaders in Diversity status for our work in this area, however we know there is still more we can do.
“A wider range of experience and a more diverse workforce will help us deliver services that better respond to the needs of the communities in which we work. We’re delighted to be supporting the Energy and Utilities Skills Partnership inclusion commitment to help our business and the industry change.”