Greater diversity in the workforce can provide major benefits for businesses, says Anne Timpany.
How important is diversity in our industry? As we live in a multi-cultural society it might seem obvious that it is very important, yet the word ‘diversity’ has far greater meaning and implications than just a cultural mix.
In both the domestic and commercial plumbing sectors we have welcomed many non-UK nationals to work in plumbing for years, and we hope that situation won’t change after Brexit.
However, diversity is also about getting more women into plumbing; encouraging more people from the LGBT community to choose plumbing as an attractive career option; actively promoting plumbing to ethnic minorities; and also welcoming disabled people as well.
A diverse workforce is known to improve productivity. Wider cultural and language skills can lead to greater reach for the business and, in what has been a fairly traditional trade for many years, a wider cross-section of people can also bring in fresh creative ideas and new perspectives.
At On Tap Plumbers we have 50 plumbers and seven apprentices across seven construction sites in London.
The Office of National Statistics’ most recent Labour Force Survey found that 45% of London construction workers were born overseas, and this is a fair reflection of the diversity we see within our own workforce.
Just recently we engaged a plumber, George, who emigrated from New Zealand to the UK with his British wife. He found us on the internet, impressed us with his excellent qualifications and we were delighted to give him a job when he arrived.
Since then he’s been promoted to become our new Training and Development Manager, working with our apprentices and plumbers, going into schools and colleges to inspire the next generation of plumbers.
As well as his evident skills, George has also worked for his father’s company in New Zealand, which is one of the leading commercial plumbing firms in the country.
This means he has brought with him a wealth of knowledge and experience that will help us to scale up considerably.
It seems so very last century not to be open minded about diversity and what it can and does bring to our industry. Whatever someone’s age, race, creed, colour or personal preferences, their ability to do the job well, be reliable, turn up on time and make the customer happy are surely the most important considerations.
Anne Timpany is Director at On Tap Plumbers
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