Sector ‘is becoming more diverse’

Nick Ellins, chief executive of Energy & Utility Skills, has written an open letter to his counterpart at Ofgem, urging him to recognise strides already taken by the sector.

Steps are already being taken to make the utilities sector more diverse and reflective of wider society, a senior figure has claimed.

Nick Ellins, the chief executive of Energy & Utility Skills, has written an open letter to his counterpart at Ofgem, urging him to recognise strides already taken by the sector.

It follows the pledge by Dermot Nolan to increase the proportion of female workers at the regulator to 50 per cent and his plea for other bosses to follow suit.

Ellins pointed out that the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership has already launched an inclusion commitment, which has been supported by more than 30 companies.

As well as committing to actions to promote their businesses to under-represented talent, the collective has embarked on other projects to bolster the industry’s reputation to a broader section of society. This includes helping to launch engineering institutions in schools, supporting the Social Mobility Pledge and introducing more apprenticeships. Ellins has invited Nolan to find out more about the group’s work.

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Dermot,

I saw the Utility Week piece last week, advising on your pledge to have 50 per cent female staff in Ofgem by 2025, but also quoting you as saying “I am calling on the energy sector to also take steps to make their workforces more diverse, particularly at senior levels as that will help make you make better decisions and ultimately better serve your customers.”

I am pleased to advise you that the energy sector within the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership has indeed been taking those steps that you call for. In addition to the many company specific activities, the CEO Council that you met in December 2018 (along with Rachel Fletcher of Ofwat) launched the major utility sector Inclusion Commitment just ahead of the new Ofgem Diversity and Inclusion Strategy on 11th February 2019. Initially thirty two regulated utilities and their major supply chain got the initiative underway, but it has since been joined since by further infrastructure companies from across the UK. Our aim is to secure 100% support.

Through the work the CEO’s have committed to proactively changing the current diversity statistics and promote their businesses to under-represented talent. Leveraging its collective impact, the partnership is committed to working across all sectors to recruit and attract a workforce that mirrors and speaks to the communities it serves. The commitment made is:

  1. Being inclusive enables our sector to attract and retain the diverse talent that is crucial to ensuring a resilient workforce.
  2. Being inclusive will help us to be more innovative and achieve greater productivity by adapting to our changing environment.
  3. Having a diverse workforce ensures we are reflective and inclusive of the customers and communities we serve.

The five principles that underpin their Inclusion Commitment are:

Work collaboratively as a sector to drive change, challenging ourselves to do things differently, by sharing best practice and delivering sector priorities

  1. Focus on inclusion in its entirety, however our sector history requires targeted sector action to start by increasing gender, BAME and disability workforce representation.
  2. Measure and be transparent about progress in our individual organisations and as a sector.
  3. Ensure we create the culture we need to attract the workforce of tomorrow.
  4. Be inclusive in the way we attract, recruit and develop our people.

My email is to let you know of the ongoing activity and to offer and encourage Ofgem to also make this sectoral Inclusion Commitment part of achieving its Diversity & Inclusion strategic targets. You would be very welcome.

The CEO Council that you met is then building an inertia of relevant supporting work. This includes: helping launch two new engineering institutions within primary and secondary schools; being accredited as a ‘youth friendly’ sector by Youth Employment UK; becoming signatories to the Armed Forces Covenant; securing over 7 million opportunities to see utility job roles within hard to reach groups via the Talent Source Network social media platform; opening a strategic partnership with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards; collaborating with the Social Mobility Pledge led by Justine Greening MP and celebrating the graduating of over 1000 new engineering-based apprentices that come from all walks of life. Each company involved is then focusing on taking its own regional and community steps to achieve their commitment. I feel sure that the majority of this work could also stimulate new talent towards your organisation.

In early September, the CEO group are also meeting the Workforce Disclosure Initiative team to look at how the utility activity might collaborate with the 130 institutional investors that are now looking for markets to invest further in their human capital, including for inclusion to be evidenced. You may be aware that the World Bank has also launched its Human Capital Project in 2019, looking at better investments in people for greater equity and economic growth and building productivity through vibrant and diverse workforces. Clearly as a leading economic regulator, your ability to encourage sector investors to value inclusion as a mechanism to secure diverse human capital is vital, and it fits very well with the objectives set out in D & I strategy but also the whole Ofgem approach to RIIO2.

I would be pleased to tell you more about the work of the CEO Council of the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership in this area, and feel that shared activity between your organisation and the sector can only stimulate more interest for people in taking up careers in this socially valuable and vital sector.

I look forward to hearing from you, and kind regards,

Nick

 

Article reproduced from Utility Week (James Wallin), click here to view the original article. 

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