Building without barriers
The housebuilding industry is currently facing a widely-talked about issue. Demand for housing has never been higher but we do not have the skills to build the homes that Britain needs. At the same time, the industry is finally recognising that we are not equally accessible to people of different backgrounds. These two issues are not separate. We are missing out on capable talent because they don’t see the industry as an attractive place to work.
At Barratt Developments, we are building an organisation where anyone with drive and talent can pursue the career they want. We are building a culture where anyone, regardless of gender, race, class, sexuality, disability or any other characteristic, can progress and be proud to work for Barratt.
More than a ‘tick-box’ exercise
Research shows that diversity, particularly at management level, correlates with high performance. As well as being unacceptable in itself, poor accessibility is harming our business. But it’s easy to throw out some slogans and say you’re addressing an issue. At Barratt we have taken a strategic approach to becoming more accessible and ultimately to have a workforce that mirrors the communities in which we operate.
We realised that to appeal to a more diverse workforce we first needed to create an environment that would attract, and more importantly, retain people of different backgrounds. This won’t be an overnight process, but it will ultimately mean Barratt becomes an even greater place to work, regardless of your background or how long you’ve been with us.
Laying foundations for future success
We did three things immediately that will help us become more inclusive but will also make the business stronger.
The first was giving our leaders the training and tools to lead the way. In the past year over 250 leaders have taken part in inclusive leadership courses where they were taught about building cultures, understand their own unconscious biases and how to get the best out of people. Their enthusiasm has been genuinely inspiring and as a proudly regional business, we now have 27 different action plans being devised and implemented across the country.
The second action was looking at our own existing policies and asking ourselves whether they are helping us attract and retain a diverse talent pool. We found areas where we were lacking. For example, we made serious and industry-leading reforms to our Maternity Pay and Joint Parental Leave policies. The internal reaction has been very positive. We have also updated our Flexible Working Policies to recognise that it is people’s quality of work, not the time they take to do it that is important. There has been an increase in applications for flexible working and internal feedback shows the move is both popular, and effective.
The third step was thinking about how we measure success. We have set ourselves stretching but achievable targets for 2021 that go well beyond anything we measure now, and we’re collecting more data than ever before. We want to create a workforce that looks like the communities we build and work for. This will help us deliver better quality on a bigger scale and make us a more attractive employer for anyone who values quality like we do.
It takes a community to build a community
Ultimately, attracting and retaining a workforce that is made up of different perspectives, different opinions and different backgrounds requires a culture where everyone feels welcomed. We want to get to a point where people feel more than accepted, they are proud of what makes them different because they know it helps our business. We want to feel like a true community of people committed to working towards the same goal: to lead the future of housebuilding.
We built over 17,500 homes last year and won more NHBC quality awards than any other major housebuilder. But it takes more than bricks and mortar to build our homes. We employ over 6000 people, the majority of them outside London and off site. There are more opportunities than you think, to find the one that’s right for you visit: barrattcareers.co.uk
This article is based on an interview with Rob Tansey, Barratt Developments Plc Group, HR Director.