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National Inclusion Week: "People are at the heart of our business"

Monday 28th September 2020 07:30

Sarah Bentley, Kelly Macfarlane and Mia Davies at Bracknell STW

Thames Water chief executive Sarah Bentley, centre, with customer experience director Kelly Macfarlane, left, and south west performance manager Mia Davies, right.

The incredible melting pot of people and personalities who work for Britain’s biggest water company is being celebrated as part of National Inclusion Week.  

Around 6,000-people from all walks of life work for Thames Water, keeping taps flowing and toilets flushing for millions of customers across London and the Thames Valley.  

As one of the country’s leading diverse workplaces, Thames Water prides itself on a culture where people feel comfortable and confident to be themselves, ensuring they feel valued and, in return, adding value to the business.  

During National Inclusion Week, from Monday, September 28, to Sunday, October 4, Thames Water is holding a series of events designed to promote the opportunities people have to connect with, and inspire, others to ensure inclusion is an everyday reality.   

The online sessions include a workshop on bi-visibility day and how to be a great LGBT+ ally, along with talks and presentations on dementia awareness, faith and race.

Sarah Bentley, Thames Water’s chief executive, said: “People are at the heart of our business and we want to make sure that Thames Water is a diverse and inclusive great place to work.   

“To help us succeed in providing life's essential service, we need a range of skills and capabilities, representative of society throughout our business.   

“We aim to provide a working environment and culture that inspires people to live our values, providing an opportunity for all to utilise their talents and which creates a working community that promotes inclusion and encourages individuality.  

“An inclusive culture is empowering; it unlocks new thinking and ways of doing things that can inspire us to be better versions of ourselves. We celebrate and support being an inclusive team, not just this week but every week.”  

Its commitment to building a diverse workforce means Thames Water has signed the Race At Work Charter, was the first water company to be awarded Disability Confident Leader status and is a Stonewall Diversity Champion.

Tanya Brenchley, Thames Water’s reporting and controls manager, spoke about the support she received from colleagues when she came out as transgendered: “From that day to this, I’ve only received respect and support from everyone in Thames. I’m now a far happier and fuller person, no longer hiding large parts of me.  

“It’s great to be able to reflect through personal experience how difference is embraced and valued here in Thames. It has enabled me to thrive both personally and professionally.”   

Thames Water is also an Armed Forces Covenant Silver Award holder for actively recruiting former military personnel who often have skills relevant to the industry including engineering, leadership, logistics and incident management. Nearly 40 roles have been offered to veterans in the past 12 months alone, taking the total number employed to more than 300.   

It is member of Women in Science and Engineering, and Women in Utilities, encouraging more women to join its frontline teams, and has plans to increase the total female headcount across the whole business from 33 per cent to 45 per cent by 2025.