With over 35,000 members of staff and operating in the predominantly male engineering industry, Openreach is passionate about creating a fully diverse and inclusive workplace, as Jamie explains.
1. Why has the company decided to encourage more women to join the workforce?
Diversity isn’t, and shouldn’t be, optional, it’s fundamentally essential. The more diversity and equality in a workplace, the better culture and people are happier. When you develop a reputation for being an employer that really wants to work hard at getting a diverse workforce, you naturally start to attract a high calibre of talent.
2. What have you done at Openreach to encourage more women to apply for your roles?
It’s important to have an open conversation and listen to why people might not think of Openreach as being an employer of choice. It’s all very well instructing people to come and work for us, but if we can’t understand how the way we advertise our roles and write job descriptions are being interpreted, we can’t adapt them.
Unconscious bias plays a huge part in talent acquisition. We’re removing all of it. We’re taking responsibility for getting more women to apply for our roles. There are several campaigns (In Plain Sight and Watch Me) we’ve done, and one upcoming, that is pretty exciting about how, as an industry, we tackle this issue.
3. What challenges have you encountered and how have you overcome these?
Changing and challenging perceptions. There is great appetite for change in Openreach and a lot of hard work has been done to get that message out to women who may not have considered a career in our industry before.
Perceptions are changing, but we are investing more in our attraction, processes, and culture to ensure more women see our industry as not only a place for them, but a place they can succeed.
4. What are the biggest challenges your female colleagues face and how have you helped them overcome these?
As a man I would hate to talk for women, I can’t, and shouldn’t do that. What I can do is empower women in my team and across the business to tell me not only what they need, but how we can make Openreach more appealing to women. And bring more women into the discussion as to how we do that.
5. What advice would you give other organisations looking to do the same thing?
Listen. Give a voice to the women who are in the organisation – what works for them, what do they need, what can we do better? Because it’s not just about getting more women to apply, it’s about making sure there’s a culture that means they want to stay.
It’s also about listening to those who you want to apply for roles but might not. Why are they not? Often doing some research can deliver powerful insights.
All businesses and industries should be looking to share guidance on how we encourage and move to an equal and diverse workforce. As a collective we should talk about what’s worked and learn from each other.
If you'd like to hear more from Jamie, he'll be taking part in our upcoming webinar 'The evolution of work: hybrid working'. Find out more here.