It should be the right of every single person to feel accepted and welcomed, and to be able to be themselves at work, without fear of judgment or discrimination. Sadly, across the UK, more than half of LGBT+ people disguise or hide this part of themselves at work. This is simply not acceptable.
At Thames Water we’re building an inclusive and welcoming environment, where everyone can feel pride to work somewhere that encourages, accepts and values people as individuals. We serve a broad and diverse region in the UK, and our customers have a range of backgrounds and beliefs. Encouraging, recognising and celebrating diversity and inclusion in our workforce means we can better represent and serve our customers.
We are all unique, we are individuals and to honour who we are as people whilst also raising awareness of the challenges still being faced, we have launched our Trans and Non-Binary guidelines to coincide with Trans Day of Visibility (TDoV), and hope you enjoy this short film featuring some of our Diversity and Inclusion Champions focussed on what it means to be able to bring your whole self to work.
The Chair of Thames Water’s LGBT+ Network, Jenny Jones, said, “Our LGBT+ Network exists to support all employees and managers across Thames Water, with the key aim of inspiring everyone to live our values - in particular, to be respectful and value everyone. We’re a resource for people to learn more about LGBT+ at work and get advice on common scenarios and issues, as well as raising awareness and inspiring our colleagues, who in turn can then better serve our customers.
“I’m excited that we have these transgender and non-binary guidelines, which were created in consultation with members of our LGBT+ community. They visibly support all transgender and non-binary employees, and raise awareness and give key information to all colleagues and managers to enable them to support their teams and work better together for our customers.
“I’m also delighted to have had the opportunity to participate in the short film talking about the importance of being able to bring your whole self to work. What better way to celebrate Trans Day of Visibility and truly value everyone.”
One of our Diversity and Inclusion Champions had this story to share about diversity and inclusion in action at Thames Water...
Myself and a colleague were asked by a team manager to speak with a transgender lady who’d joined their team. This lady wanted to know what support was available to her within Thames. We had an initial chat and following this I buddied up with her to keep in touch and help her settle into her job.
The thing that impressed me the most from our conversations, was that despite her anxiousness, she remained confident and true to herself. I admired her genuine and brave approach. It was also really encouraging to hear from her how accepting everyone had been towards her at the interview stage, during training, and in her new team.
I felt really proud to be part of a wider team that supported people to be their whole self and as a mental health first aider I appreciate the importance this has on wellbeing. What stood out for me at the time was “What would happen if our support network didn’t exist?” “Who would the team manager turn to?”, that’s why I’m so pleased that everyone in Thames Water will now have a set of new guidelines to help them support transgender and non-binary team members.”
--- Mark Deller - Diversity and Inclusion Champion
If you want to work for a diverse and inclusive company who are Stonewall Diversity Champions inspiring people to respect and value everyone, check out our careers page:
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This week we have been celebrating International Women’s Day at Thames Water with a number of networking opportunities and events across our sites; from London to Reading to Swindon. Our women and champions of women have heard from role models including Kate Davies, COO at EU Skills, discussing our sector inclusion commitments that we collectively launched on 11th February 2019, outlining what we are doing across the industry to create better balance. Additionally our HR Director Janet Burr facilitated a workshop focussed on our achievements as a company so far as well as all the great things we are doing such as our leadership and management development programmes, mentoring (including reverse mentoring) and our work with schools and colleges to inspire women to consider careers in STEM. We also heard from Exec and senior leaders Sunny Tucker, Kelly Macfarlane, Mark Stables and Angela Booth at Thames Water, Angela Peart from Women Utilities, Julie Williams from Lighting Fires and Sarah Stevens from Smart Works, discussing self-belief, confidence, personal brand and leadership. If you want to be part of a great company with an inclusive culture that inspires people to respect and value everyone and create a better balance please visit our career page.
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Today, in partnership with over 30 other energy and utility companies in the UK, Thames Water launch the sector Inclusion Commitment to build a diverse, representative and inclusive workforce, tackling under representation of BAME, disabled, female and young talent. As Nick Ellins, Chief Executive of Energy and Utility Skills said “This new commitment is a framework. It starts the collective action to help the utility sector better mirror the communities it serves and secure the unquestionable benefits that result from having vibrant, truly inclusive and diverse teams” Our Chief Executive Steve Robertson added that “Supporting diversity and inclusion is not just something that’s clearly the right thing to do but is vital to ensure that the best available talent contributes to our business and that we reflect the communities that we serve.” In our 2020-2025 business plan we set out a programme of work to build a collaborative and capable team, dedicated to serving our customers. We’ve already started to put initiatives in place to recruit talented people from all backgrounds. For example our Give Someone a Start Scheme provides work experience for those not in education, employment and training and those with mental and physical disabilities. Additionally our mentoring schemes are encouraging BAME and female talent to consider our sector. We are also inspiring young people through our education and school programmes. Internally, our inclusion networks are supported by employee champions inspiring diverse talent not just to join our family, but to develop and progress their careers with us. Learn more about our sector inclusion commitment. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.
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Left: Sunny Tucker, MP Alok Sharma & Sarah Gosiewska
The initiative, called mentoring circles, was first launched in February 2017 as part of a Government drive to address issues faced by BAME individuals both in work or trying to get into work.
Backed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the company has organised 121’s and some of the circles in London to offer face-to-face support, advice and guidance to those in attendance, as well as hosting several workshops on CV writing and interview skills.
Our communications director Sunny Tucker, have joined in with the circle sessions to pass on their knowledge and advice.
Since its launch, dozens of participants have subsequently found employment, with some also gaining interviews at Thames Water.
The circles have been a great success, and we’re delighted to see they are paying off for those who attend. At Thames Water, we’re dedicated to building an inclusive culture and working environment that inspires people to live our values, respecting and valuing everyone, and this type of scheme is a perfect example of that.
As well as the sessions, members have also been taken on tours of our sites, including Walthamstow Wetlands.
Speaking after attending several of the circles, Sunny said: “There are, sadly, many people within the BAME community who lack the confidence, opportunities and support needed to progress at work. Thames Water’s pro-active advice in this area is really important and is having tangible results.”
At Thames Water, 14.5 per cent of employees identify as being from a BAME background, with only six per cent represented at management level. To increase inclusion, a reverse mentoring scheme has also been introduced where members of the executive team are paired with those working on the front line to learn of the challenges they face.
There are also several employee support networks, including the BAME diversity and inclusion champions, who meet regularly, and a working group supporting the company to deliver its culture, inclusion and engagement strategy.
The DWP invited both Sunny and me to a special reception with the Minister for Employment Alok Sharma, held on January 17, to recognise the scheme’s achievements, and to look ahead to future plans.
If you would like to learn more or to get involved please email firstname.lastname@example.org or drop me a comment below.
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