Achieving a sense of belonging

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Lynn Shofield, communications manager at Jersey Electricity, explans why diversity, equality and inclusion are at the heart of the company

THE people of Jersey Electricity are proud to serve our community.

Whether it’s a customer care adviser helping you to move home, a finance officer dealing with your bill, a retail or stores assistant helping you to get that perfect TV or laptop, an engineer getting your lights back on after a fault in the middle of a rainswept night, or our controllers, maintaining power throughout the Island 24/7, coping with all the peaks and troughs we see in daily demand.

The roles are varied and diverse – like our people themselves and the community we serve. It is vital for the success and sustainability of the JE business that our workforce fairly represents our diverse Island community. This is why, in recent years, JE has worked hard to build a more inclusive culture and recruit and retain a wider diversity of talent. To celebrate and share our success, we’re delighted to be a gold sponsor of this year’s Channel Islands Pride.

A man at the heart of the change is JE director of human resources Andrew Welsby. He says: ‘When we talk about creating an inclusive culture, we see it as one in which you have people from different backgrounds (diversity), processes and systems that afford people the same opportunities (equality) and an environment that fosters a sense of belonging and community at every touchpoint.

‘Our concept of inclusion is aimed at achieving a sense of belonging for all people who work (or are considering working) with us. Building an inclusive company is more than just one policy, one tool or one person. Everything we do impacts our workplace culture and how inclusive it is. Everyone at JE plays a part in creating that culture.’

To help achieve this, JE developed a new approach to recruitment, changing the language used in its adverts and launching unconscious-bias and diversity training among its leaders. In a further step towards increasing diversity, JE’s recruitment strategy also guarantees an interview to anyone with a disability, as long as they meet the minimum requirements for the role.

Andrew adds: ‘The issue of perception and unconscious bias applies to everyone within and outside the organisation. As part of our diversity and inclusion strategy, we are working to challenge the unconscious biases that can influence managers’ views about potential employees so all managers, not just those involved in recruitment, have now undertaken unconscious-bias training.’

The result is not just more women occupying and applying for roles in the Energy Division and associated engineering disciplines traditionally dominated by men, but a much greater diversity in the ethnicity, ages and sexual orientation of candidates.

‘Most successful businesses today know that greater diversity leads to greater innovation, creativity and more varied viewpoints. This fuels innovation, aids problem-solving and leads to a dynamic business with an engaged and happy workforce that feels respected and included,’ adds Andrew.

Although JE feels it is making some great strides forwards in creating a more diverse workforce, it is not resting on its laurels. To be sure that everyone is truly represented and included, whether from a gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability or age point of view, JE has this summer conducted an anonymous survey among its entire workforce.

The results will enable JE to understand if its workforce is truly representative of the Island community and whether a particular group or characteristic is still under-represented and how it might change recruitment campaigns or advertising to be attractive to all.

‘To be truly inclusive of everyone, we need to know what characteristics our employees have so we can be sure our diversity and inclusion initiatives are authentic and speak to all employees, regardless of characteristics,’ adds Andrew.

‘We want to see if we have any inclusion “blind spots” we should be aware of. Plus, we want to know if our facilities cater for everyone in terms of accessibility and individual needs.

‘We need to understand the make-up of our workforce and seek to ensure everyone is included. The knock-on benefit of this is the behavioural change we see in interactions with customers, regardless of circumstance or characteristic. It just becomes part of who we are and what we do and means we will be equipped to serve all our customers the way they would like to be served and treated now and long into the future.’

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