Everyone's welcome; a look at how we're exploring and improving the diversity of our teams

1st Dec 2023

At Openreach, we're more than just cables and connections.

We're 37,000 unique minds, varied vaults of experience each wonderfully different from the last, united by our mission to deliver full fibre to 25 million homes.

Our success lies in our differences, and we want to do more to do to ensure that our company, and our customers, benefit from the widest possible range of perspectives, ideas and experiences.

So, how are we making these aspirations a reality? 

Gaining understanding

We’ve carried out extensive data gathering to ensure we have a clear picture of the people making up our business.

This showed us there were areas where our data collection could be better, such as around disability and sexual orientation. And it also confirmed an important issue that needed attention; only 5% of our trainee engineers and office-based employees, 34% of our graduate hires, and 30% of our senior management were women.

To tackle this imbalance, we set ourselves an ambitious target; to have 20% of our trainee engineer roles and half of our office based, graduate, senior and externally recruited management positions filled by women, by 2025. Then, we set to work making it happen.

Taking a holistic approach

First, we revamped our recruitment process, commissioning groundbreaking research into gender neutral language in advertising, and adjusting our adverts accordingly. Then we launched 'Watch Me', a social media campaign designed to spotlight our female engineers and bust the myths that put women off considering the profession.

The results were astounding. Advert changes led to a 300% increase in the number of women applying to our engineering roles, and an additional 500 female engineers joining Openreach. And ‘Watch Me’ helped us attract a 14,000 strong pool of women interested in joining us.

But we didn’t stop there.

We’re also passionate about playing our part in achieving real change for our field as a whole. 

So we’ve also collaborated with Tech UK and the Digital Connectivity Forum to improve how diversity information is collected and monitored, and ensure there is a clear national picture of how people think about, and approach diversity across the industry. And we’ve signed up to Ofcom’s pledge to increase senior, and overall, representation of women in tech roles within telecoms in the coming years.

Creating a culture

Of course, we need to go further than simply recruiting more women. We also need ensure they feel welcome and supported to remain part of our teams. So, we have worked to develop a culture that understands, celebrates and nurtures diversity.

We built diversity and inclusion into our onboarding for new starters, and developed an Inclusion Allies Programme to empower more than 2700 people at all levels across the business to drive diversity education and awareness. And we created a staff network focusing on Gender Equality, to ensure these minority staff members’ voices are heard. Plus, we upskilled our senior leadership with intensive inclusion training, including education on women in the workplace.  

It’s taken time, and a lot of work, but it’s beginning to pay off.

As a result of all of our initiatives, we currently have 11% more women in trainee engineering roles, 40% more in office-based roles, 14% more in graduate roles and 2% more in senior roles than we did in 2019. Want to see the full details? Check out our Open to everyone report

Moving forward

We’re working hard behind the scenes to gather more data about our workforce and identify new initiatives to help us reach our gender equality targets, and continue to set the standard for our sector, but we need your help.

We want to learn from you, and share what we’ve discovered, so that together, we can maximise the change we create in our industry.

So, if you believe that our sector needs to become more diverse, and want to help us on this mission, or just want to hear more about our plans for the future, we’d love to chat.

Get in touch with our team at public.affairs@openreach.co.uk.