Many small companies like ours would consider themselves inclusive – we employ people from diverse backgrounds with a variety of life experiences – but they probably aren’t. It is an interesting, and sometimes challenging process to look at your company through the eyes of someone outside it.
In November this year, Thermal Road Repairs committed to a new equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) policy and a plan to implement it. Developing it was a useful exercise because it forced us to take stock of where we are and look forward to where we want to be.
We are currently reviewing all our practices around employment and our operational procedures to work out how we can improve them to make them fairer and more inclusive. A good place to start is recruitment – if we keep recruiting in the same way, advertising through the same channels with the same wording, how can we hope to find different people?
We are already trying new recruitment routes. In Manchester, we have started to recruit ex-offenders to our teams, bringing them to work with us while they are serving the last months of their sentences and then employing them as they leave prison. This is working well all round; we are gaining loyal, hard-working people and our existing team members understand and appreciate what we are doing.
Thinking about EDI also means revisiting training regimes and approaches. People may not come with the right experience or a ready-made skill set. Working with some of our local authority customers to train long-term unemployed people has helped us create different training programmes that suit people from outside our sector.
Of course, our managers and our workforce also need training and updating as we strive to become more inclusive. It’s important to reiterate and explain our EDI policy to both existing employees and new recruits, and we also all need to examine our behaviours – sometimes things that we might consider small or irrelevant can create an uncomfortable work environment.
Addressing EDI can seem daunting for an SME with limited resources. Some small companies even say it is irrelevant or impossible to do. But if, like us, you start on the journey, you will start to see positive changes and benefits.
Thermal Road Repairs is a green technology company which supplies systems to improve the quality, cost and time efficiency of road repairs and paving – at a far lower environmental cost than traditional methods. We invest significantly in R&D, to create new technologies and to continuously improve our existing ones.
High output. Low emission. Permanent solution.