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Mixed-gender shortlists on super sewer

The body delivering Thames Tideway Tunnel is asking recruitment agencies to provide mixed-gender shortlists of applicants for certain jobs, it has revealed.

Julie Thornton, head of HR at Tideway, said the move was part of efforts to boost female employment on the £4bn scheme.

Tideway chief executive Andy Mitchell said last year that he wanted 50% of the staff at the body running the super sewer scheme to be women by the time the project completes in 2023.    

Thornton – who is speaking at the NCE and Construction News Careers in Construction Live event next month – said a range of techniques were being used to achieve this aim.

“We have taken on seven women through a returners’ programme; we are making sure the language we use in job adverts appeals to a broader audience; and we are very clear to agencies that we want mixed shortlists,” she said.

“It is about reinforcing the message that diversity is important to us and we pay attention to it.”

Thornton said recruiting to the delivery body had become harder over the past year or two.

“The market is becoming hotter, and there are lots of other projects,” she said. “People we like are being counter-offered to stay where they are, which would not have happened 18 months ago.”

She said that on top of job adverts and using recruitment agencies, the body searched LinkedIn to find potential employees.

“We look at skills and experiences then contact people,” she said. “We have brought good people in this way.”

Tideway skills and employment manager Scott Young added that the body was working closely with local boroughs and employment bodies. One in four employees across the entire workforce is aimed to be living in boroughs where project worksites are located, and at least 30 per cent of employees working on the River Thames are targeted to live in Greater London, Kent or Essex.

“We regularly send out job opportunities to contacts in the boroughs,” he said. “We also ensure a consistency of approach wherever you are applying for a job.” Three consortia of construction firms signed contracts this summer to work on the Thames Tideway Tunnel.

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