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HS2 Ltd becomes first UK company to secure and retain flagship equality accreditation

HS2 Ltd becomes first UK company to secure and retain flagship equality accreditation

HS2 Ltd is the only organisation in the UK to achieve and retain a prestigious accreditation standard established to recognise exceptional commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the workforce.

The Clear Assured Platinum Standard, which was first achieved by the government-owned company in 2021, marks its commitment to embedding inclusive best practice into all elements of its work, including the design and delivery of Britain’s new railway.

Through evidence-based assessment, HS2 Ltd demonstrated that its EDI policies and processes continue to be best practice and set new standards for the industry. HS2 is committed to creating an inclusive work environment for all employees. Actions to address feedback from Clear Assured in 2022 were swiftly taken to maintain progress in areas such as, fairness and proportionality in the outcomes of talent assessments, supporting senior staff members on leading inclusively and reinforcing its commitment to a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination.

Alexandre Maria, Director of Clear Assured & Supplier Diversity at the Clear Company, said:

“HS2, despite already being EDI leaders in the industry, have continuously stretched the boundaries of inclusive best practice since originally achieving Clear Assured Platinum accreditation in 2021.” 

“HS2’s dedication to quantifying the impact of their interventions and proactive approach to inclusive recruitment and fostering diverse senior leadership, demonstrates their commitment to achieving their EDI targets.” 

“Whilst HS2 keeps raising their EDI standards and strives to create an even more inclusive working environment, the EDI team’s own leadership, their effective use of data and commitment to accountability makes them an exemplar organisation.” 

The announcement coincides with the publication of HS2 Ltd’s EDI report for 2022/23, which shows that the HS2 project is leading the way and exceeding industry benchmarks for workforce diversity.

As Europe’s largest infrastructure project, HS2 is setting new standards and driving change in both the rail engineering and construction sectors. It achieves this through a strategic commitment to EDI, inclusive procurement practices and by holding its Tier 1 suppliers to account for their EDI performance and they, in turn, do the same for their sub-contractors.

As a result, ethnic minority representation in HS2’s Tier 1 supply chain increased by 2% in 2022/23 and now stands at 20%. The number of females in the Tier 1 supply chain workforce also increased from 28% to 30%.

Leading by example is at the heart of HS2 Ltd’s approach to EDI good practice. Non-Executive Director and HS2 Board Diversity Champion, Dame Judith Hackitt, is determined the organisation must go above and beyond to change the face of construction now and for future generations.

Dame Judith said:

“A project of HS2’s scale and longevity presents a unique opportunity for change and I’m determined we capitalise on that.

“Three years into our major civils programme, it’s evident that HS2 is showing what can be done and demonstrating the benefits of addressing the lack of diversity which has been a feature of construction for so long.

“I genuinely believe that if we can set an example at HS2 and show the benefits of a diverse, inclusive culture, then we’ll lead the way for the rest of the sector.”

As the project client, HS2 Ltd sets its own challenging targets for workforce representation. It achieved 24% for ethnic minority representation in 2022/23, against a target of 23%, but fell just short of its ambitious 40% target for females in the workforce, securing a 38% rate – one percentage point higher than the previous year. This is significantly higher than current construction and industry standards, which are between 21% and 23%

Encouraging more women to enter and progress their careers in the sector remains a key focus for HS2 Ltd. 40% of its executive team is female and 36% hold Director roles within the company. Throughout 2023/24, HS2 Ltd will continue to focus on its recruitment and retention strategies to increase the female workforce in its delivery directorates, where gender representation remains a challenge.

Shira Johnson, HR Director at HS2 Ltd said:

“We are exceptionally proud of our EDI achievements to date and the commitment shown by the thousands of UK businesses engaged in our supply chain.

“The fruits of our work are really beginning to take shape. More women and ethnic minority groups are stepping forward to play their part in Britain’s new railway, as they recognise the importance we attach to ensuring that HS2 is an inclusive workplace for all. “Clear Assured provides rigorous assessment and direction allowing for accountability to be allocated throughout the organisation and consistently measured. There is always more we can do, and that remains our focus in the months and years ahead.”

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BDC 309 : Oct 2023