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Inclusion Matters
Shortlisted for Sustainability Delivery Award

Executive summary

 

Ricardo has taken significant strides to fully embed diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI) in the heart of our employee engagement strategy and we have seen the positive impact these actions have had on our culture. We have further aspirations for the future and are committed to being an inclusive and welcoming company, with activities that reach into the wider community.


We recognise that the sectors in which we operate have been traditionally dominated by people of a similar demographic i.e., similar age, race, and gender. We are committed to an ambitious plan to build networks and improve representation. We want everyone in our team to feel valued and accepted as they are without the need to conform to any societal norms. This matters to our business because diverse teams benefit everyone. We believe that understanding a situation from a variety of different perspectives will always be beneficial.


Employee engagement is core to our operation. We encourage all our staff to find their purpose and be an active part of our community. Every voice matters. We listen to all employees and implement meaningful change as necessary, so everyone feels safe and valued.


There are many opportunities to contribute to the DEI agenda – from focus groups, ally networks, forums, opportunities to learn, on-demand training, guest speakers and a calendar of engagement and knowledge sharing activities

 

Building an inclusive and equitable future


In 2021, we published our DEI aspirations for the financial year 2021/22 for the first time, demonstrating the commitment of our Senior Leadership Team (SLT) to meet our goal to be a truly inclusive company.


Our intentions are to:


• Reduce our gender pay gap and increase the number of women in senior positions.
• Be reflective of society and increase ethnic diversity and inclusion at all levels.
• Be actively inclusive of our LGBTQ+ community.
• Support employees who have, or acquire, a disability or long-term health condition.
• Support mental wellbeing and neurodiversity.
• Ensure no gap in opportunities available to those with caring responsibilities.
• Ensure our leaders of the future understand inclusive leadership and have the skills to support our goals.
• Listen to our employees via our DEI forums and be open with data.
• Be a champion for DEI in our industry and communities by re-energising our science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) activities.
• Ensure those experiencing menopause are supported and able to contribute to their full potential.
 

How do we reach these aspirations?


We have a range of employee-led initiatives that aim to increase diversity and inclusion. Diversity-related actions span the whole employee life cycle, from recruiting, developing and promoting and ultimately retaining a more diverse range of employees. Inclusion initiatives include our forums, internal communications campaigns, Mosaic – our internal DEI chat channel, our annual engagement survey, on-demand training courses, leadership training and reverse mentoring.


Our commitment includes demonstrating public pledges to charters, including:


• Race at Work Charter
• Disability Confident
• Tech Talent Charter
• Menopause Workplace Pledge

These are not just badges. We use our involvement to seek advice, learn best practices, network, benchmark and for public accountability.

 

Internal commitments


In autumn 2021, our Managing Director published his statement on zero tolerance for harassment, bullying or discrimination to demonstrate our stance and reassure colleagues that the business is continually reviewing its culture and communications. We know from our internal research, conducted by our valuable forums, that, in the past, some people have not spoken up when they have had an issue or felt able to express themselves authentically. We must be an organisation where people feel free and able to speak up. We know that witnessing harassment can be difficult: it’s hard to know when to step in, what to say, or how to react and so our zero-tolerance statement was reinforced by signposting a route for speaking up anonymously and by providing on-demand training for those who want to learn to be an effective bystander.


The SLT committed to a range of activities to reduce our gender pay gap by at least 50% by 2025 following work undertaken by our Gender Forum. The forum was established in August 2018 by a group of people keen to volunteer their time to reduce the gender pay gap at Ricardo.


Since 2018, the forum’s mission and objectives have widened to focus on issues beyond pay including culture, progression and recruitment in the business, and also on themes including returning from parental leave.


Our achievements

Ricardo has:

 

  • Established several forums and built a community of interested and active volunteers keen to support DEI in the workplace. These groups, supported by the business, have organised activities to gather evidence, raise awareness, and learn and communicate about the importance of taking action to improve DEI.

  • The forums and allyships established are focused on race, sexual orientation and gender identity, neurodiversity, disability, gender, and those who are affected directly or indirectly by menopause, or dementia.

  • Designed and developed a ‘reverse mentoring’ programme on gender issues and associated training to challenge expectations and improve the perceptions of higher grades. This scheme will be repeated from the perspective of race over the next year.

  • Introduced a menopause policy and support group (including training) for all employees.

  • Encouraged work shadowing at all levels.

  • Reviewed a set of policies and processes from the perspective of gender, race, age, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation, including those related to parental leave.

  • Re-written its capability framework reducing bias and working to make it equitable, allowing different pathways to progression and success.

  • Improved the promotion process following a programme of stakeholder review, focusing on transparency and consistency across the company.

  • Mandated that flexible working applies to all vacancies by default unless there is an express reason to the contrary

  • Made mixed interview panels a standard when recruiting and used neutral language in job advertisements.

  • Reduced the mean gender pay gap by more than over 1% each year which has been a significant achievement in light of the long-term retention of Ricardo employees.

We have introduced:

 

  • A thriving mentoring scheme and currently support over 100 mentoring relationships.

  • Formal, informal and peer-to-peer coaching.

  • Partnering with a supply chain that shares our vision and social values, embedding social value into all our contracts/engagements.

  • Gender-neutral facilities

  • Suitable spaces for worship (including flexibility on working hours to support religious festivals)

  • On-demand skill boosters training which enables our employees globally to have easy and effective access to training as and when they need it

  • Mental Health First Aiders.

  • A returners’ process for those returning to the workplace after an extended period of leave of absence which offers all returners a ‘buddy’ and a phased or staged return to suit individual circumstances

  • A leading Employee Assistance Programme, free at the point of access for all colleagues

  • Voluntary employee self-identification options on our internal platforms.

  • A range of MS Teams channels that cover inclusion topics broadly and in more niche areas, such as dementia and menopause.

  • Transparency on pay and published our pay bands. We are also committed to publishing the salary ranges for all our vacancies.

  • Improved applicant reporting to collect and review diversity data by role and recruitment stage to provide greater clarity about the make-up of our potential talent pool to learn where we can focus our efforts

  • A voluntary data-gathering exercise using our secure system to record additional details about employees, including those characteristics that are protected under the Equality Act 2010, such as:

    • Disability

    • Race – this includes ethnic or national origins, colour or nationality

    • Religion or belief – this includes non-belief

    • Sex

    • Sexual orientation

    • Marital status

We have gathered data from 65% of our UK workforce to date and have a plan in place to get to 85% by the end of 2022.

  • We are collecting this to establish a baseline and measure our progress, giving us a greater understanding of the wants and needs of our workforce.

  • Inclusion campaigns celebrating Black History Month, Mental Health Awareness Week, Pride and International Women’s Day, among others. These campaigns aim to engage, educate and celebrate and include activities such as guest speakers, panel events, training courses and fundraisers.

  • Internal knowledge sharing sessions discussing allyship, LGBTQ+ perspectives, neurodiversity, physical disability, caring, and the importance of diversity in STEM careers among others, often partnering with external organisations, such as the UK Government.

 

All of these achievements and initiatives develop, progress and retain our diverse talent. In support of recruitment we:

  • Work with a wider range of universities where ethnicity is more diverse.

  • Insist on no all-male interview panels

  • Use specialist job boards such as STEM returners

  • Use gender-neutral language in our job adverts

  • Have introduced a STEM and women returners initiative

  • Offer apprenticeships

  • Sponsor visas

 

We have ambitions to finalise and publish our social value strategy. The mission is: to use our skills and resources as an employer and environmental consultancy to contribute to a fairer, more inclusive, society with improved social, economic and health outcomes for disadvantaged communities and individuals.


This means:

 

  • Leading by example on workplace equity, diversity and inclusivity.

  • Supporting the safety, well-being and professional development of all our staff, and having a positive impact on the wider society.

  • Supporting social mobility within disadvantaged communities.

  • Being an advocate for increased social mobility with our stakeholders.

  • Effective stewardship of the environment, where positive impacts on health, quality of life and social inclusion are created, and negative impacts are avoided.

 

How does effective governance play its part?


In 2021, Ricardo established The Global DEI Council, chaired by employees, with corporate members and an Executive Committee sponsor who meet frequently. It has an established mission, objectives and plan of action.


The Council connects with each business unit in Ricardo and provides a steer and opinion to the lead corporate team The council acts as a governance body for collecting and providing employee feedback and response to the global initiatives spearheaded by corporate members and discussed at the Council. It also provides a forum for discussing and feeding back.


DEI Forums report to the Council and have a line of communication with the Executive Committee.


DEI Forums also have their mission, objectives and plans of action, meet frequently and have a business unit SLT sponsor, which links their activities to senior management and provides a direct line of communication with the senior leadership teams.
 

Conclusion


We want Ricardo to be a great place to work, delivering activities that create a society fit for everyone. Our colleagues tell us that we are achieving this. but we are not complacent. As we learn more about each other, we evolve and grow as a business and become more diverse, we must continue to review our culture to operate as a responsible business. Diversity, equity and inclusion are pivotal to the success of our people plan, underpinning everything we seek to do to enable our employees to feel supported, cared for and played in position.
Ricardo conducts an annual engagement survey and uses the data to drive change.


In spring 2022 we gathered the following feedback:


How satisfied are you with Ricardo as a place of work? - 89% agree or strongly agree

When asked if ‘Ricardo is an inclusive employer and embraces diversity (helps all employees to feel they belong and encourages employees to be themselves at work)’, we received the following feedback:


“It is heartening to see the enthusiasm with which DEI initiatives are embraced and visibly demonstrated in the organisation. It feels like these initiatives have sponsorship from the top-down, which is hugely important for driving change in any business.”


“Personally, I have never worked at such a diverse company. It is refreshing and so important!”


“There are many forums for diversity and people will openly talk about all sorts of issues on them. It is good to facilitate such an environment.”


We will continue with this enthusiasm to improve satisfaction levels, driving the inclusion agenda at every level and location within our business.