Yorkshire Water recently received the honour of being the very first water company to be handed the prestigious National Equality Standard (NES) accreditation.

The NES certification serves as recognition of good practices maintained across all areas of diversity, equality and inclusion (EDI) and has been developed in partnership with British companies like the BT Group. It is also supported by the Confederation of British Industry and the Home Office.

Clear equality, diversity and inclusion criteria are set by the NES and organisations are assessed against these criteria once a company has made a commitment to operating in line with the standard — a standard which can take up to three years to achieve. Yorkshire Water began its progression and improvement journey in June of last year and has been rewarded with accreditation just over a year later.

shauna-purdeysmallShauna 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.”

Across the business, 2,400 colleagues have completed a training course which is aimed at providing them with insight into the key themes required for good practice. In addition, 375 managers have gone through and completed a course aimed at helping them recognise how unconscious bias can have an impact on working relationships and how to address bias in specific situations, such as recruitment and performance management.

Yorkshire Water is committed to the mental and physical wellbeing of its employees with a large number of initiatives driven by its Occupational Health Team in support of their employees living a healthy lifestyle. There’s a cycle to work scheme which has been put in place along with employees being granted access to the onsite discounted gym in Bradford. It seems that along with providing quality customer service, which is usually provided by municipal corporations (perhaps by using technological solutions like government management software for handling utility services), the water company is also dedicated to taking care of its employees in the best possible way.

The company’s new employees attend a pre-employment health assessment in order to see if any workplace adjustments are required to ensure their health and safety at work. This can mean multiple steps put in place, with safety equipment from websites like www.safetyshop.com as well as others, being a big priority within the workplace, this can be from safety signage to first aid kits.

Top managers receive training so that they can effectively assess the risk, and identify and manage stress. There’s been a commissioning of a GP to deliver training to managers about common mental health problems, how to recognise them and how to provide support. An independent psychiatrist has also been made available to offer support to employees.

Flexible working is integrated rather extensively throughout the organisation and it’s clear that there’s a commitment to accommodating requests for formal flexible arrangements.