Interserve at the heart of diversity in business conversation

Interserve at the heart of diversity in business conversation

I was delighted to speak and sit on the panel of the first joint networking event between the Women in Interserve Network (WIN) and Women in National Grid (WiNG) held at the Sainsbury’s conference centre in Holborn last week.

The event was chaired by Women in Business Superseries and came on the back of the publication of a report by management consultancy AT Kearney, supported by CBI, on the ‘Rise of the Female Economy in B2B’.

Tim Haywood, Interserve’s finance director and head of sustainability, opened the event, noting that a sustainable business is one which looks like the community it serves.

Leading women from Sainsbury’s, National Grid, the CBI and AT Kearney joined me on the panel to explore how the stronger representation of women in business influences the decision making process and can lead to more sustainable outcomes.

female-economy-THUMBThe AT Kearney report touched on a number of best practice approaches and measures, which Interserve has already moved forward on, not only in terms of leadership support, but also in delivering programmes on workforce diversity and outreach.

Interserve’s vision is to redefine the future for people and places and our SustainAbilities plan, launched in 2013, is our action plan to 2020 and is our path to increasing the opportunities to deliver profitable growth, and managing risk, while putting the issue of sustainability at the forefront of our decision-making process.

Key measures within our SustainAbilities plan include to have boards that better reflect the diversity of our business by 2016, and to achieve ‘Investors in Diversity’ status – or an equivalent – by 2018. We are working hard to achieve these.

More broadly, we are integrating diversity issues into operations across the business including:

  • Clients who we are bidding for work with – in both the support services and construction sectors – increasingly want ‘social impact information’ to comply with their own CSR policies. In a nutshell – clients want to work with businesses that mirror their own ethical and moral policies. We have noted this and have responded by ensuring our teams – both in terms of bidding and operations – try, as much as possible, to reflect our clients’ teams.
  • Our Support Services division has rolled out diversity training and unconscious bias training schemes.
  • We have fully trained ‘diversity champions’ within our construction business who drive and support the diversity agenda.
  • We are monitoring our diversity in external recruitment for senior roles, and across our apprenticeship and early career programmes.

The event sponsored by WIN triggered a stimulating debate about diversity, not only on gender but also about ensuring inclusion across backgrounds and ages, to provide the richness of experience within the business to ensure we continue to provide outstanding solutions and service to our clients.

For more information on the event, visit #FemaleEconomy

Catherine Ward

Catherine Ward - Catherine is group HR director. Before joining Interserve, Catherine was at BMI Healthcare, where she was Group People and Communications Director for six years, and before that held senior HR roles at BAA the BBC, Sotheby’s and Aviva. She has worked in HR and change management consultancy with KPMG and SHL Group, and has postgraduate qualifications in HR and organisation behaviour.