The first ever National Equality Standard (NES) accreditation to be handed to a water company recently went to Yorkshire Water.
The NES certification is recognition of good practices in all areas of diversity, equality and inclusion (EDI). British companies like BT Group were partners in its development and it’s also supported by the Confederation of British Industry as well as the Home Office.
The NES sets very clear equality, diversity and inclusion criteria, against which organisations are assessed. Once a company has made a commitment to upholding the standard, it can take as long as three years to achieve. Yorkshire Water’s journey of progression and improvement began in June last year however and just over a year later the water company has been rewarded with the accreditation.
Shauna Purdey, Director of Human Resources at Yorkshire Water said; “We were delighted to achieve the NES. Our aim is to be more representative of the customers that we serve by attracting a more diverse colleague base, and this will help us to understand how we can make ourselves more appealing to colleagues from all walks of life.”
“The award has shown our commitment to EDI but we will continue to work in partnership with the NES to ensure we keep focusing our efforts in the right areas. The NES team have helped us identify what we are doing well but have also made recommendations and we will take these on-board and strive to make these improvements.”
The NES assessment team said; “Yorkshire Water has a visible passion and commitment to EDI. It’s apparent that efforts towards creating a more diverse workforce and an inclusive culture have been significantly accelerated over recent years with a number of initiatives being put in place to do so. Activities such as the recent rollout of EDI training, the wealth of support offered to promote health and wellbeing and the persistent focus on embedding flexible working have all helped contribute to the supportive and inclusive environment that was evident to the assessment team.”
No less than 2,400 colleagues have completed the training course across the business, aimed at imparting to them some insight into the key themes for good equality practice. 375 managers have also completed a course which aims to help them pick up how unconscious bias can impact on working relationships and how to address bias in specific situations, such as recruitment and performance management.
Yorkshire Water has committed to taking care of the mental and physical wellbeing of its employees. A lot of initiatives driven by its Occupational Health Team are in support of employees to live a healthy lifestyle. A cycle to work scheme has been put in place as well and employees can access the onsite discounted gym in Bradford.
All new employees are made to attend a pre-employment health assessment to see if there are any workplace adjustments needed to ensure their health and safety at work.
Top managers get trained so that they can develop an ability to assess the risk as well as identify and manage stress. A GP has been commissioned as well to deliver training to managers about the common mental health problems, how to recognise these mental problems and how to provide support. There’s also an independent psychiatrist available to support employees.
The ability to work flexibly is well embedded throughout the organisation with a clear commitment to the accommodation of formal flexible arrangement requests.