Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
During 2021 we launched our 3-year Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Strategy, known as ‘Be you’. We believe DEI is the right thing to do. It represents who we are and our values.
Our DE&I goals:
Goal 1: Workplace
Inclusion is at the heart of our strategy. The employee experience we want to create is one where our employees and those we work closely with feel good about who they are, whoever they are.
We have clearly set out what inclusion means at Countryside and invited all employees to bring their whole self to work. We call this ‘Be You’.
Be You is more than an invitation, it’s a clear commitment from the top to fostering greater inclusion which is embedded through our company values.
Inclusion is more than intention and words
In 2021, we took 6 critical steps to building inclusion:
- We clearly articulated what inclusion is at Countryside and set a commitment from the top to building greater inclusion
- We run a 4-week employee challenge designed to get every employee to understand their role in inclusion and to personally reflect on their behaviour and how inclusive they are
- We’ve got all teams focused on what ‘Be You’ means to them and what they need to do differently to enable it
- We’ve set up a Values Champion Network, hosted by our Partnerships North CEO, to listen to voices from across the business, at all levels, to shape our thinking on our DEI approach.
- We’ve celebrated more inclusively than ever before. We even initiated an interview with Black Professionals in Construction to publicly raise awareness on Black History Month and supported diverse events that matter to our employees and communities such as sponsoring a PRIDE event in Rochester.
- We set up employee affinity groups, for example, a menopause group, a parent’s network, a disability and carers forum (which is inputting into the design of our modular house types to ensure greater disability access for our customers). These groups are driven by our employees and there are many more to come.
And that’s just the start…
2022 will see us deliver even more. For example, we are planning our first DEI annual conference for our Group leadership team and will be putting in place reverse mentoring with our Executive Team. To name just a few things. And we’ll be collecting data so we can measure the impact of our strategy.
Goal 2: Workforce
We have more to do to build a diverse workforce. That’s why we are creating our recruitment strategy designed to build greater diversity and looking to address bias in terms of who our industry and organisation is for.
Whilst there is more to do, we are making progress. Our gender pay has dropped for the 3rd consecutive year and this is reflective of the average pay difference between men & women at Countryside.
In 2021, we took 5 critical steps to building greater diversity:
- We partnered with a DEI specialist to conduct an audit of our recruitment processes, to help us identify and address potential barriers to broadening diversity in our organisation.
- In the last year we recruited greater gender balance on our Executive Team, hiring 3 women. This represents a 30% split but we recognise generally we have more to do in greater gender balance at all levels.
- We’ve forged key partnerships with Black Professionals In Construction, Women in Construction, Women in Social Housing and Stonewall. We aim to utilise their expertise to help shift the dial on diversity but also to help us build greater inclusion. We have a plan to build partnerships with other specialists, so our diversity approach is as far reaching as possible.
- We supported six trade apprenticeships in our supply chain (3 Carpentry and Joinery; 1 Scaffolding; 1 Plumbing and Heating) by sharing our Apprenticeship Levy to support economic recovery in deprived areas and to ensure equity in access into Construction.
- We work flexibly. We launched smart working, allowing all staff a greater level of flexibility in where they work and structuring their day. We believe this will go some way to changing the perception of our industry and to making our organisation more accessible to more diverse hires.
2022 will see us deliver even more. For example our recruitment strategy will be launched and we will audit our talent and promotion processes, to name just a few things.
2022 and beyond
We will deliver more against goals 1 and 2 aligned to our strategy. We have a clear direction and plan. We will launch work to support goals 3 and 4.
Countryside will make a difference.
And as a proof point to our work, we are pleased to announce that we have been shortlisted for the SECBE Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award.