Recruiting more women into Amey

Amey say “creating better places is our purpose and our passion”.

Its team of 20,000 work across four continents – making them a leading supplier of consulting and infrastructure support services both in the UK and internationally.

It creates safer, smarter, and more sustainable places to live, work and travel. By designing, building, maintaining and investing in the country’s services and infrastructure, it makes a difference through engineering, facilities management, utilities, transport, environmental services, defence and justice.

What did they do?

Amey has a clear business case for recruiting diverse people:

“getting the best out of all of our people”

There’s no such thing as a typical Amey person. The company welcomes a range of abilities, from practicality and problem solving to precision and creativity.  Amey wants a workforce as diverse as the communities it serves and values the experience that diversity brings to its business.

Amey’s success depends on its creative spark and it knows that a truly diverse workforce brings the widest possible range of ideas to its business. Being a truly inclusive employer will maximise Amey’s effectiveness and enable it to give greater value to its customers. It is also part of Amey’s corporate ethos to treat its employees fairly, with dignity and respect. This means challenging conventional thinking and demolishing the barriers that hold people back.

Amey have introduced measures to its recruitment processes to help  achieve this.  These include:

  • Setting targets for diversity and reporting against these

As part of its inclusion strategy, Amey has set an ambitious target that all of its recruitment shortlists include diverse candidates. Amey track and report upon this to its executive team.

  • Making Amey’s attraction strategy inclusive

In 2015 it engaged the Women@Amey Network to help review  its external imagery. Based upon the network’s feedback, Amey changed its imagery and wording, removing pictures of men at work and including non-gendered imagery. 

  • Unconscious bias training

Over 1900 people managers have completed Amey’s online unconscious bias training module, which is a pre-requisite for taking part in an interview panel.

  • Induction

Amey’s induction for new employees introduces them to its inclusion principles right from the start.

  • Promoting an inclusive culture

Massive efforts go into promoting an inclusive culture.  This is supported by an engagement strategy that includes Amey’s annual inclusion week and campaigns, which this year focuses on mental health and ending the awkwardness around disability. Each campaign is supported by magazine and online articles, toolbox talks, and face-to-face events. In addition, its executive team are supportive and have taken the time to lead on inclusion programmes and write thought leadership articles.

The most important message that Amey put across is that it does not have all of the answers but is looking to its people to help find them, an approach that has worked well.

  • Amey now has over 1000 people engaged in diversity networks
  • A technical leadership workshop at which inclusion was one of many themes has led to a team of technical experts being created to lead on inclusive design and recruiting diverse technical talent
  • Employees share their stories of what makes them proud to work for Amey, which are shared internally and externally to encourage diverse people to join.
  • Meeting disability confident employer standards

Amey has committed to the government’s Disability Confident Standard, guaranteeing interviews for people with a disability who meet minimum standards, and providing reasonable adjustments for the interview and when they come to work with Amey. It is working to get even better at supporting disabled people into work by partnering with Scope, the disability charity. The charity is  working with Amey’s HR team to review its recruitment processes and to help make more robust plans for inclusion.

  • Using recruitment portals that promote diversity

Amey use a wide range of recruitment portals and advertising styles designed to attract a diverse talent pool. The most successful of these has been its use of Working Mums, which has increased access to mums, as well as dads, looking for work. 

  • Promoting EDI activities on its careers website

The careers website includes information about Amey’s EDI business case, videos and blogs of diverse people talking about why diversity is important and information about support and networks.  The main website includes thought leadership articles by business leaders talking about why inclusion and particular diversity strands (women, disability, mental health) are important to them and to Amey’s business. 

  • Diverse role models

Amey has created videos of diverse people speaking about their experiences.  Its recent talent campaigns have focused on using social media vlogs featuring diverse apprentices and graduates who are genuinely passionate about their jobs and the support that they receive from the company.

  • In-house recruitment experts

Amey employ a team of recruitment experts to manage all recruitment, which means that the team is engaged in finding solutions and delivering programmes. The experts work with each recruiting manager to guide them through processes and ensure that inclusion is a key consideration at every stage.

  • Returners programme

Amey have a returners programme that provides a 12-week placement in an engineering role for someone who has been out of the workplace for more than a year. The programme is designed with flexibility in mind to allow for caring responsibilities.  Seven women took part in it in 2016.

  • Outreach programmes

Amey have set a five-year target to help 5000 people facing barriers to recruitment to find work.  To achieve this, it has introduced a wide range of small scale work-placement schemes and large-scale programmes. These include:

  • working with the Royal Academy of Engineering and 12 other engineering companies to provide ready for work skills to 200 BAME/female/socio-economically challenged students each year
  • working with Recycling Lives to upskill serving offenders in prisons in the North East
  • partnering with Sheffield College to provide up to eight six-month internships each year for students with disabilities and learning difficulties
  • delivering the Challenge Cup with 16 girls from four city schools in Birmingham, to encourage them to consider a career in engineering.  This is part of a year-round partnership with these schools.

What was the impact?

Particular impact has been recognised in its emerging talent programmes and women in STEM careers:

  • In 2016 its engineering graduate intake reached 38% for BAME and 37% for women.

Women in STEM roles: 

  • Between 2015 and 2017, STEM roles held by women have increased from 14% to 18%

In addition, Amey’s employees have recognised the efforts that the company is making to support inclusion, and identified efforts to support people regardless of diverse background – this is one of the top five scoring areas in its employee survey.

Where there any challenges?

The first challenge to overcome was engaging people across the business with inclusion.  There was a perception from many in management, which was predominantly white and male, that inclusion was happening naturally. Conducting independent reviews and detailed statistical analysis of its workforce and the wider UK culture provided an evidence-based narrative to shift this perception.

The business is now engaged with inclusion and there is a wide understanding of why this is important. The ongoing challenge is making the move from talking to doing. There is a wide range of activity that is supporting more inclusive recruitment and culture. However Amey continues to need to reinforce the messages as to why this is important and why it needs to introduce new measures, in particular, in the context of efforts to work smarter and leaner.  This is being led by the Chief Executive of the business who is clear that being inclusive is a top business priority.

Hints and tips

Develop a business case that is evidence driven. You will need to engage a wide range of people who are all involved in making recruitment decisions. This is easiest done if they understand that this is important to their part of the business.