Making Work Work: Thames Water and Business in the Community
One of the biggest people challenges companies face is securing the core skills required in the business today and for the future; particularly those skills that are either industry-specific or in high demand and short supply.
About Thames Water
The UK’s biggest water and wastewater services provider. Thames Water’s hardworking and dedicated colleagues provide essential services around the clock to 15 million customers across London, the Thames Valley, and surrounding areas.
One of the biggest people challenges Thames Water faces is securing the core skills required in the business today and for the future; particularly those skills which are either industry-specific or in high demand and short supply. Additionally, as demonstrated in the findings of its own Workforce Profiling Report, it highlighted that as a business Thames Water was not fully reflective of the diversity of the communities it serves. It also had an increasingly ageing workforce with a smaller younger demographic.
The company is aware that it has talented people at hand, yet creating the opportunity to ensure people have access to sustained career prospects is often the building block that is missed. Thames Water has several initiatives to create a workforce reflective of the communities it serves, whilst ensuring it promotes responsible employment practices.
“OUR PARTNERSHIP WITH BUSINESS IN THE COMMUNITY HAS SUPPORTED US IN DELIVERING THESE COMMITMENTS AND OFFERS ADVICE AND CHALLENGE SO WE CAN CONTINUOUSLY EVOLVE, CHANGE, AND DEVELOP.Karima Khandker, Head of Resourcing, Skills, and Emerging Talent
Thames Water’s Skills Strategy
Thames Water had an opportunity to engage its workforce to ensure it is diverse and reflective of the local communities it serves. In early 2021, it launched its Skills Strategy designed to support it in meeting its purpose: to deliver life’s essential service, so its customers, communities and the environment could thrive. Several great initiatives already existed within the business; however, many projects had been run independent of each other, with a limited joined-up approach or strategy alignment. The Skills Strategy sets the company up for success both now and in the future. It enables Thames Water to be forward-thinking, considering both the short and long-term skills requirements for the business as well as the external skills landscape and wider economic factors. A skilled workforce supported by a robust education and skills system will drive social mobility, promote inclusion, and make work work for all. Thames Water’s desire is to contribute to the creation of a fair society and tackle real challenges.
To enable the successful implementation of the Skills Strategy, a new Skills and Emerging Talent team was formed. It has grown over the last 18 months and is a well-established team within the Thames Water People function that delivers excellent outcomes focused on careers not just jobs and drives meaningful sustainable change. The team owns and leads the agenda, but critically it is Thames Water colleagues that support the delivery of the strategy by mentoring people into the business and creating sustainable opportunities for all.
Through the development of the Skills and Emerging Talent team, it has established strategic partnerships to support our local communities to access meaningful careers at Thames Water, including those members of the communities who have been disproportionately affected by the COVID pandemic. These partnerships are with several government-based organisations as well as charities and specialist referral partners. It has chosen to work with the selected partnerships due to the expertise they offer and alignment with its focus groups. Also, signing up to the Care Leaver Covenant, Ban The Box and The 5% Club has enabled the company to enhance entry routes for underrepresented groups.
How BITC helped Thames Water
Thames Water has signed up to Business in the Community’s (BITC) Ban the Box campaign and is playing its part in creating fair opportunities for people with criminal convictions to compete for jobs by removing the initial criminal convictions tick box from application forms and asking about this later in the recruitment process. Thames Water has publicly committed to fairly assessing criminal convictions; judging candidates first and foremost on the basis of their skills and suitability for a role, rather than their past mistakes.
“WE HOPE THAT BY SHARING OUR STORY WE MIGHT
ENCOURAGE OTHER ORGANISATIONS TO TAKE SIMILAR STEPS BY #MAKINGWORKWORK FOR EVERYONE.”
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