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Placing people first pays dividends for Derwent

03 June 2020

In addition to the growing levels of recognition being achieved by the FM sector, the industry has also seen increased appreciation and celebration of all members of staff – regardless of age, sexual orientation, ethnicity or social standing.

One of the most highly relevant examples of this is provided by Derwent fm, which launched its People First strategy in 2020 that has continued to expand to include higher levels of recognition for all members of staff.

In addition to the recognition of individual qualities, the company celebrates the difference these make to their employer and clients and supporting its commitment to providing a supportive culture for all colleagues to “be the best they can be”.

The strategy is underpinned by its SPIRIT values, the acronym for which has been created by using the initial letters of the words support, positive, integrity, respect, innovative and together.

“Our shared SPIRIT values bind us together, guiding us on how we act, what we do and what we say,” says Derwent fm head of people and culture Alex Greenwood.

“We are committed to providing a fair and supportive culture where colleagues can be their best, authentic self at work. We value individual qualities and the impact they have.”

She further explains that the creation of her position as head of people and culture was a “large step in developing a more inclusive company”.

This role was created to provide focus on championing equality, diversity and inclusion within the company’s senior leadership team, engaging with external leadership and inclusion networks “to gain best practice from experts across the UK and the world”.

Derwent fm’s People First strategy has been implemented to provide focus on how the business leads and communicates with colleagues in the most supportive and helpful ways.

This has seen the creation of its Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policy, which can be easily accessed by everyone within the company.

One of the many benefits to have emerged from its efforts has been the first Derwent fm apprentices enrolled onto officially-recognised courses. Further to this, 15 managers and two customer service advisors have also been enrolled onto FM courses since October last year.

“To make our communication strategy more inclusive, we formed the Our Voice forum which focuses primarily on making sure all messages are understood by everyone. Colleagues across the company are members of the forum,” Ms Greenwood continues.

In addition to the equality and diversity training that forms an essential part of all induction courses for new colleagues, regular refresher courses are provided to ensure that this focus is kept at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

Last year also saw more than 50 colleagues trained in mental health awareness to encourage them to manage their own wellbeing and identify where others may be struggling with issues in this area.

Events and campaigns have been both created and supported as part of the People First strategy, including:

Buddha Enlightenment Day

Human Rights Day

International Day of People with Disabilities

World Kindness Day

Easter Celebrations

Armistice Day

White Ribbon Campaign

Chinese New Year

University Mental Health

International Women’s Day

International HR Day

LGBT Pride month

Further to the above, colleagues at the company’s head office made 200 white ribbons that have been worn at all the sites receiving Derwent fm services to raise awareness of domestic abuse issues.

Gift boxes have additionally been donated to more than 10 refuges for those suffering from domestic abuse around the UK.

The company has continued to launch other initiatives to emphasise its continuing celebration of and support for diversity, such as including the colours from the rainbow flag within its company logo last summer to show support for LGBT+ communities.

Its Amigo company intranet also includes a diversity calendar to raise awareness of different cultures and their values, with all colleagues encouraged to share their stories through personal blogs.

Recognition of the wide-ranging efforts to celebrate diversity within Derwent fm has been provided through the winning of accreditations such as its Mindful Employer, Disability Confident Employer and Inclusive Companies membership awards.

Last November saw the business publish the results of the survey conducted with all colleagues, which showed highly favourable responses and recognition for its efforts to support diversity.

This category included six questions asking for opinion on how the company treats people relating to age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability levels, position within the company or gender.

Favourable scores for the six questions ranged from 79% to 91%, providing endorsement for the many and ongoing efforts made throughout the business.

“In February 2019, we joined the Places for People recruitment portal to support a more inclusive recruitment strategy, including having our Equality and Diversity statement included within every job advert,” says Ms Greenwood.

Its recruitment strategy is designed to make the process as easy to understand and as fair as possible to all those applying for vacancies within the company. “All new starters receive a welcome pack,” Ms Greenwood continues.

“This helps colleagues understand our company and our culture from day one, creating a feeling of belonging.

“All colleagues are invited to complete a short inclusion questionnaire after completing three months to support us with continual improvement of our People First Strategy,” she says.

There has been considerable coverage devoted to the gender pay gap within the UK national media and Derwent fm has also published its figures on how it is addressing this issue.

With 50% of leadership roles filled by females within the business, its results are well below the national average with mean and median pay gap figures of 8.2% and 7.6% respectively.

In addition to its paid employees, the company also continues to liaise with local academies and offer work placement opportunities for those seeking information on career choices.

This has again resulted in a number of favourable responses from both students and colleagues.

Support for all areas of diversity within Derwent fm has increased considerably over a relatively short period and looks set to be further extended through the well-established momentum.

The company’s efforts are also providing a positive example that can be implemented in other FM businesses, as the industry continues its efforts to be seen as a leader in this important area.


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