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Offering employees allocated time for outreach

In common with the rest of the industry, Balfour Beatty has very low levels of female and BAME colleagues in our construction and engineering roles. Because of this, we are committed to improving our diversity and are a key member of The 5% Club (employers in the UK focussed on creating momentum behind the recruitment of graduates and apprentices in the workforce) with an Emerging Talent strategy that means significant annual intakes of apprentices and graduates.

What we did.

  • We have set targets for both women and BAME recruits within our future apprentice and graduate intakes. These are:
    • 20% female by 2017; 30% by 2020; 50% by 2025.
    • 10% BAME by 2017; 15% by 2020; 20% by 2025.
  • We have then developed a series of enablers to create the actions required to achieve these targets, which includes aligning ourselves with a number of diversity partners such as WISE, the Young Women’s Trust and the Apprentice Diversity Champions Network.
  • We believe that our existing apprentices and graduates are the best role models for future recruits and can provide the inspiration for the next generation, provided their activities as STEM and Construction Ambassadors are fully aligned with our overall strategy.
  • Historically, our apprentices and graduates have always engaged with schools and youth organisations, but on an ad hoc and unstructured basis.
  • From our 2015 entry, we included a school engagement project within our schemes that enables us to target under-represented and disadvantaged groups.
  • Alongside their formal courses we designed a framework that required graduates have to spend nine months within the first year of their scheme creating their own project plan to engage with schools and youth organisations within a set of targets.
  • These targets required each project group of nine to spend the equivalent of at least a day each on school engagement and with a specific focus on under-represented and disadvantaged groups.
  • Who they approached, what activities they did and whether they did a few large events or a series of smaller activities was up to them, but they had to submit regular project plans for review and then deliver an assessed presentation to their managers and HR staff at the end of the project.
  • Criteria assessed in the presentation included the degree to which the graduates had addressed diversity in their approach.

What we learned.

Through this activity our graduates delivered over 200 person-days of school activity to over 5000 young people in a range of schools. Three-quarters of this activity was to under-represented and disadvantaged groups with just over 120 becoming new STEM Ambassadors.

What we would do differently as a result.

This aspect of our graduate scheme continues and it is being expanded in 2018 to include our Apprentices, who will do a similar project as part of their Enhanced Apprenticeship scheme.

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