2020 Conference Questions

Below you will find the responses to a selection of questions that were asked during our 2020 conferences.

A special thank you to all delegates who took the time to answer the questions.

Responses provided by Lisa Stanger, Principal Consultant, Thomas Thor Associates

How can you make all CVs not reveal gender etc? For example, on my cv is things like ‘women in physics rep’ which gives it away a little.

Not all companies want to see completely neutral CVs so it’s not always necessary. I’d put the question back: why would you want to strip out information such as that? Surely the very nature of being involved with ‘women in…’ organisations is for profile elevation and representation. It’s a tricky one!

Regarding recruitment; looking at pre-application, how do you make your company attractive to a diverse range of applicants?

 By living and breathing what we represent. Our organisation is pretty diverse so looking like what we want to represent, so showing ourselves as inclusive is hugely important.

 What are the key steps in retention of a more diverse workforce, after recruitment?

 I despise the word ‘employee’ because I feel is delineates a them and us culture. Each individual member of a company is there for a reason and it’s up to the infrastructure and colleagues to ensure the collective and individual culture. Acknowledging the individual and embracing all that they are will automatically drive respect and inclusion. Now, who wouldn’t want to be part of that?

Any advice on hiring purely remote employees, thereby accessing a larger, more diverse talent pool than which is local to parts of the UK nuclear industry?

 Technology (that works!) and a culture of engagement pay dividends. Take your time in getting to know their past working history and getting to know them beyond just work. Offer flexibility but expect flexibility in return and lay clear ground rules.

 Can we challenge working practices such as working from home and flexibility to allow more diversity? Most arrangements are largely unchanged over past 40 yrs.

 Yes! Giving trust gets respect and most people don’t want to take money for nothing. There are so many people out there who are missed opportunities because they can’t conform to the 9-5 but they have immeasurable value to offer for the right company and situation.

The Responses have been provided by Dr Des Wright, Nuclear Authority, National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL)

How do we attract a more diverse applicant pool to Nuclear you mentioned? Make STEM more attractive to non-STEM, mid-career transitions etc?

 A lot of the answer to this is about who we choose to be the “faces of our industry”. Great to see that our sector’s senior leadership is now much more diverse than it used to be, in some ways at least. We’ve all done some good work in showcasing diversity across our younger people and in our recruitment activity – and we’ve seen fantastic results there.
I agree there is more to do in terms of mid-career colleagues and people potentially transferring into the sector from outside. We need to make sure we don’t forget this level – and that we build on the great work of conferences such as this one!

Over reliance on recruitment alone does not assist those in the workplace today. What time & space to open discussion & learning are companies giving now?

Absolutely right – recruitment is just the start of the process, not an end point. Within NNL we have focused a lot on getting the culture right all across the organisation to welcome and encourage diversity and to help eradicate conscious or unconscious bias. We ran a training programme focused on Dignity and Respect in the workplace a couple of years ago, which was mandatory for all employees and involved a full day workshop for everyone in the business. We have also relaunched our Values and Behaviours recently with a strong focus on respect for all.

Our ED&I (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) group within NNL is active and carrying out some great work – including leading on some pan-NNL activities during lockdown, such as a monthly online Pub Quiz which has been very popular and which has raised the profile of the ED&I community. They also have a strong work programme, with five active workstreams looking at:

• enabling entry into NNL and the wider market
• Encouraging career development and leadership by removing barriers to progression
• Promoting an inclusive workplace culture and quality of work
• Accreditation, and
• Communications and engagement

 How can the executive leadership ensure cultural transformation at the middle management level which seem to be blockers for promoting D&I talent and ideas?

I think this is very similar to the question about what companies can do other than simply focus on recruitment. All of the activities I mentioned in NNL are fully supported by both the Executive Team and the Board. And that support extends to active engagement and sponsorship at senior level.

Has the pandemic caused you (NNL) to review or adapt anything? e.g. Maybe with regards to working parents / care givers.

 Absolutely. We’ve been in close contact with our employees since the very start of all this back in March, and we’ve run two all-employee surveys to gauge how people are feeling and the challenges they are facing (work and outside of work). We’ve also launched another survey for all our colleagues to look specifically at how they would like to work in future – recognising that we’ve learned an awful lot over recent months about our resilience across the business and just how much we ARE able to accomplish without everyone physically being in the workplace.

All of this will factor into our decision-making about what the future way of working across NNL may look like, to help deliver the benefits of a more flexible approach – for both individuals and the business.

The responses were provided by Marcia Ore, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Partner, UK Atomic Energy Authority

What impact in terms of Diversity KPIs etc have you been able to measure or how do you measure your success?

 UKAEA is currently identifying realistic and meaningful targets for recruitment and retention from Black and Ethnic Minorities, individuals with disabilities and Women. However, we need to be able to engage and attract individuals from these groups in the first place. So, we are monitoring engagement and application rates from the jobs we advertise by protected characteristic, including rates of non-disclosure of personal diversity monitoring data, particularly ‘prefer not to say’ category.

What are the key steps in retention of a more diverse workforce, after recruitment?

 Connecting with individuals and groups who reflect your identity is really important. I am a strong advocate of internal networks (employee resource groups), as they provide a ‘safe space’ for individuals to share experiences, are listened to and feel supported. Those with a shared experience don’t have to explain the look, the feeling, the microaggressions or microinvalidations they get it. As my Mum use to say, “Who feels it knows it”.

Acknowledging the different experiences of those within a diverse workforce, not trying to treat everyone as the same, because we’re not, is vital.

Senior leadership teams need to get really involved with their workforce, particularly if they lack diversity amongst themselves. The Public Sector Equality Duty talks about fostering relationships with those with protected characteristics and those without. Nowhere does it mention this relationship building is confined to the roles people hold or why they sit in the organisational hierarchy – it applies to everyone. Whether this legal duty applies to an organisation or not, it should a given.

There are some protected characteristics which are viewed as the Cinderellas and Snow Whites of diversity, and others are overlooked, disability is one which readily springs to mind. This results in almost a mindset of vying for recognition, support and recognition. Not exactly helpful or in the spirit of inclusion and the Equality Act 2010.

 How does the nuclear industry compare to other sectors in terms of improving inclusion and diversity? and to follow what lessons can and will be learnt?

I feel like the Nuclear Industry is just starting to really wake up to what inclusion and diversity is about. I don’t believe we’ve really identified why it’s really important to us and being honest about it.

The lessons that can be learned from other sectors is, this requires continuous critical reflection to make a meaningful impact on inclusion and diversity. Inclusion has to come before diversity, expecting under-represented groups to join the organisation and be the change agents is unfair, unrealistic and places an unfair burden on them. They did not write and devise the organisation’s policies and practices. They haven’t set the organisation’s culture. They didn’t set those ‘unwritten, unspoken rules and protocols’ which the majority know and take for granted.

It’s not their responsibility to change the way things are so they feel they belong and are valued!

Don’t treat inclusion and diversity like items on Bruce Forsyth’s ‘The Generation Game’ conveyor belt. Useful to win a prize/award, insight for a moment, ability to recall influenced by motivation, but likely to forgotten when out of sight.

 What would your advice be for companies looking to check their own provision of support networks in terms of representation of minority groups?

Ask employees whether they want a network? Ask those who you engage with as potential employees their views on internal networks.

I transferred from one Police Service to another and the Chief Constable asked me to start a network. I refused because I’d only just arrived and didn’t know what the issues were, and the existing staff hadn’t been consulted.

Ensure all the networks are run in a consistent way with a clear process. For example, providing a template charter and application form to complete to be formally recognised. Included them in your d&i (diversity and inclusion) budget.

Develop a relationship of mutually beneficial support, don’t expect them to do the organisation’s work as willing passionate volunteers. That’s exploiting the power dynamics which exist between the majority and the minority.

Communicate to all employees the benefit to everyone of the existence of internal networks. Because they can and do benefit everyone; as  itshows conversations are being had about the issues and challenges which exist. They are not being ignored or swept under the carpet, which can become very very lumpy.

 How do we continue to promote, embrace, live & breathe inclusivity & diversity and turn this into a one culture shared by all as a norm?

Diversity already exists in the world and has done for ever. Different nationalities, languages spoken, religions, gender identities etc. These are not new phenomena. The key is to remember the value and benefits our differences bring to society and to our organisations. They influence the music, books, architectural designs, works of art, and the advances made in technology and science.

The cultural norm should be inclusivity by embracing and welcoming diversity, not tolerating it.

How are organisations addressing under-representation of disabled people their organisations?

When you consider how many people have a disability and how any of us, regardless of any other protected characteristic, could develop one at any time, due to age, illness, or as a result of accident or incident; organisations are very slow at considering accessibility for those with a disability. From deciding the location of their offices, and considering the transport infrastructure, to building design, open plan, lighting, stairways, lifts, toilet facilities right through to writing a job description, and promotion and progression routes.

The responses have been provided by Patrick Herbert, Nuclear Engineeer, Nucleargraduates

Hurtful responses on social media prevent people to speak out to promote Equality Diversity Inclusion (EDI), in fear of backlash. How should people be held accountable for their words on social media?

This is very tricky from an employer – employee perspective. People should be held accountable by having to summit National Insurance numbers; therefore, any hate speech can be tracked to that individual; – and banning them from platforms leads to a lifetime ban and not that individual just setting up another account. This does shift the focus away from us and to the platform unfortunately.

However, I am aware of some fantastic organisations that want to hold social media platforms to account for hate speech. The trick is they alert advertisers to hate speech on that platform and advertisers (99% of the time) threaten to withdraw from the platform until that hate speech is removed. One of them is called “Stop Hate for Profit (Facebook ad boycott). More information can be found by listening to “Reasons to be Cheerful” podcast, episode 148. In the meantime, don’t buy anything from adverts you see on social media platforms that allow hate speech.

Now what if words are written on social media are by an employee of the company? I should hope other members of the company would report the individual. I should hope the company can suspend that individual without pay and pay for sensitivity training for that individual (this option is very common in sport and entertainment circles). Even better would be if companies paid for sensitivity training as part of every new employees’ induction into the company.

 What are your best tips for improving inclusion day-day?

Be aware of people’s differences and opinions. Try and actively include people in conversation and activities. Be conscious of those around you always. At the end of the day reflect on what you did to include others in the company.

Also call people out on bad Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) behaviour.

 How do we get naysayers and adversarial individuals to D&I to engage, empathise and become proactive advocates?

This is a very basic answer, but education is really the only way. Enforce sensitivity training and show people the video of Frank Douglas from the conference ( I thought he was excellent)!!!

On a slightly different note, I think conferences like this shouldn’t be just for the “I want to come along to this crowd”. I think most people attending a D&I conference are ahead of the curve in D&I based issues. Companies should randomly select individuals to attend to better spread D&I awareness to everyone. Therefore (through random selection) naysayers and adversarial individuals will be forced to learn in the conference environment. Failing that, they will at least be further outnumbered by the fact more people will be educated in D&I issues, rather than just people already aware of the issues in that area.

The responses have been provided by Adriènne Kelbie, Chief Executive, Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR)

Do you have any advice on how we call out behaviours if it’s people with power over us (for example line managers/clients)?

I can understand why this may feel daunting. But no-one has power over us unless we give it to them. So, I’d say, be clear that you would welcome a few minutes one-to-one. Start from the premise that the person is unaware, and therefore it may create a defensive response. In that vein, frame the conversation, name the issue, explain the impact and ask to explore it with them by asking questions. By making it clear that you are concerned about the behaviour and want to help them achieve better by working differently, you will have the best chance of success. If this is repeatedly ignored, I would raise the incidences even in wider meetings. If we do not call things out, they will not change. It’s rarely as difficult as we imagine.

 What are the important values and behavioural traits for CEOs to promote Inclusion?

CEOs are a diverse bunch themselves! I think one thing that is common is the need to constantly role model and acknowledge good behaviours and attend to that which falls short. We are not perfect, we’re all only human, and so it’s also important to be willing to actively seek and understand different perspectives, and apologise when we fall short. Personally, I think all CEOs are at their best when they work from inclusive, fair and supportive values and hold themselves and others to account.

CEOs have the unique privilege to create a climate for everyone else to grow in – to be the head gardener in a beautiful and unique nursery.

  Covid-19 can be a game changer for climate change and D&I. How can businesses use lockdown implications to drive D&I change and what are the top priorities?

COVID-19 has collided with traditional thinking. The sector can and should see through more flexible and remote working, as a major benefit to a more inclusive workforce. It’s long overdue that the whole sector sees inclusion as not being about gender, or Black and Underrepresented Ethnicity groups, or disabilities, but about creating cultures and policies that support everyone to be their best – at work, at home and in their communities.

Meaningful staff engagement to understand perceptions and realities is key – asking now will help set the long term strategy. At a minimum, I’d hope that we wipe out management by presenteeism and move to appropriate remote working for lone tasks, and greater focus on collaboration, creativity and cultivating capability when we come together.

How do we get naysayers and adversarial individuals to D&I to engage, empathise and become proactive advocates?

 Some people will always be naysayers – do not confuse their unwillingness to change with your lack of ability. But where we do want to change a sceptical mind, I’d say we need to commit to having better conversations to broaden perceptions and aid better understanding. Seek and give feedback which challenges stereotypes. When we make assumptions, we build barriers that only grow over time – the only way to overcome those is to knock them down. Overall, I think people are far too cautious for fear of offence to have real dialogue. Be braver.

The responses have been provided by Corhyn Parr, Director of UK Waste Operations, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA)

 How do we get individuals to take responsibility for their own behaviour / biases without making them defensive?

 Create safe spaces to have conversations. Embrace opportunities to discuss, debate, learn and educate each other. Acknowledge that some individuals may have difficulty accepting they have an unconscious bias or need to take responsibility for a topic they may not feel is relevant to their experiences. Rather than get antagonistic about opposing views, help people to see different perspectives, consider other people’s experiences and walk in other people’s shoes, share facts and stats, education and awareness and continue the dialogue. Getting people to connect on an emotional level is a great way of encouraging personal responsibility. And if all else fails, reminding people that in the workplace there are standards of behaviour expected of all of us. Most people agree that equality and inclusion is a good thing but may have different opinions about who is disadvantaged or discriminated against. Sometimes it takes time to shift a bias or behaviour, some resistance or defensiveness is to be expected.

 What are you doing to make the effort to achieve Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) an effort of the ‘’majority’’ i.e. shared by all members of the organisation rather than driven by the few?

 A key focus for organisations is to engage the silent majority and those who don’t participate in D&I campaigns, events or workshops. We often see the same faces at D&I events. As we build momentum for change, we all have a responsibility to engage others and bring them with us on the journey. A great tip is to ask delegates to bring someone with them who has not been to an event. As we grow our own employee networks and ask allies to join this will also grow the number of people, at all levels in the organisation, who become involved in shaping and shifting the inclusive culture we want to achieve. Sharing stories and lived experiences is another simply but powerful way to engage people. Our experiences this year of remote/home working has also “opened” up our home lives and homes in a way we haven’t experienced before so I feel this has also helped in breaking down some barriers.

   For the leaders, what are you doing to ensure that the organisations that get work orders from you are living inclusion (beyond just having a policy statement)?

  As we mature our thinking and approach, we will need to ensure D&I is embedded in everything we do. This includes actively promoting D&I in procurement and the supply chain. We have work to do to strengthen our D&I approach in this area and leverage the inclusion benefits across the supply chain. D&I values and behaviours should be extended to external contractors and suppliers. This is also a two-way process and we can also learn from partners / suppliers. HS2 are a great example of an organisation that has embedded D&I into their procurement framework and they set out D&I expectations in their contracting process and monitoring of performance.

 Are there issues that the nuclear industry faces in terms of D&I that other industries don’t face? And if so, what are they?

 Nuclear Industry has arrived late to the D&I party and whilst other industries face similar challenges they are much further ahead on their journey. Nuclear Industry is still developing its collective understanding of D&I and raising awareness. Key challenge is to embed inclusion across the sector and this is a major cultural step change. We are still very gender focused and we need to widen our approach to incorporate other diversity strands. The lack of women at the top of organisations (resulting pay gap) and few Black and Underrepresented Ethnicity groups across the sector stands out.

 (SQEP) is a major barrier to Diversity. What is the industry willing to do to help break this including things such as development roles for diverse candidates.

  I believe we need to recruit from a much bigger pool – we can find Suitably Qualified and Experience Person (SQEP) beyond the nuclear industry for a large majority of our roles. Our needs are diverse and we have careers to offer not just in technical nuclear roles that require specialist knowledge and training but also other disciplines such as Project Management, Finance, HR, Legal, Communications, and Administration. Whether you want to be a Graphic Designer or a Radiation Specialist there is a role for you within our sector. We also invest heavily in our graduate and apprentice schemes to ensure we recruit and train our future nuclear specialists so we have a pipeline of people coming through and we are working hard to try to encourage greater diversity into those cohorts each year.