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  • by Trevor Loveday

Report shows "slow progress" in utility diversity and inclusion

A recently published report on diversity and inclusion in the energy and utilities sector has shown "progress is slow." The study showed that water industry led pan-utility growth in the employment of disabled people while aligning with utility shortfalls in the proportion of women in senior management and people from ethnic minorities across the workforce.


The report from Energy and Utility Skills compared the percentages in 2021 of employees from various societal groups in the water, waste and energy sectors and their supply chains. And it shows changes in each category of the periods 2019-20 and 2016-20. Director of people and organisational development at Energy & Utility Skills, Louise Parry, said “There is clearly still some way to go for the workforce to truly reflect the communities the sector’s workforce serves.” The figures she said showed that “although progress is slow, the actions we are taking as a sector and as individual organisations are taking hold.”


A 9% growth in the number of women in the water sector took it to poll position driven by a 12% hike in the employment of female customer service staff since 2016 (see table). Meanwhile the numbers of women in senior roles in the water sector has remained unchanged at 16% since 2016 despite a 2% lift during 2019-20. This was one percentage point below the pan-utility average and dwarfed by the UK average of 37%.


People form ethnic minorities make up only 7% of the water sector workforce – close to the the utility average but significantly below the 13% UK average.


Director of people and organisational development at Energy & Utility Skills, Louise Parry, said “There is clearly still some way to go for the workforce to truly reflect the communities the sector’s workforce serves.” The figures she said showed that “although progress is slow, the actions we are taking as a sector and as individual organisations are taking hold.”


In the context of water sector’s desire to innovate and its declared need to attract more young people the finding that the number of under 24s it employs fell 2% during 2019-20 and stands currently ay 7% – two percentage pints below the utility sector figure and four under the UK average might disappoint.


The Energy & Utility Skills research showed that the total utility workforce increased by 12% over the past five years, from 520,000 to 582,000.



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