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Black History Month: Diversity makes us all more effective

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It brings fresh ideas and perspectives and helps us better serve our communities. Here at E.ON UK, we are committed to creating an inclusive culture in which people from all backgrounds and abilities can reach their full potential. We work hard to attract the widest possible candidate pool, and to make the process completely fair. And when it comes down to an offer, we hire the best person. Full stop.

Natasha Johson-Richardson & Merlita Brya

This is why Black Heritage Month, celebrated every October, is so important to us. As one of the largest employers in the Nottingham and Coventry region, it is our responsibility to encourage and celebrate diversity amongst our employees.

For instance, in 2016 and again this year, we will take part by being one of the sponsors of the Nottingham Black Achievers Awards. Now in its fifth year, the aim of the Black Achievers Awards is to recognise and promote the achievements of our Black, Asian, Minority and Ethnic (BAME) community and showcase to the community real positive black role models.

E.ON is sponsoring the category for Black Business Man and Business Woman of the year. This category highlights how local people from the black community have shown entrepreneurial spirit, which in turn has improved their own and other people’s lives.

Last year, we chose the winners out of nominees from the Nottingham public and were delighted to award Alex Richards and Natasha Johnson-Richards with their gongs!

Alex started his business as a childcare provider (the first black male childcare provider in Nottingham) with no funding or other resources. His affordable childcare solutions are helping local mothers to get back into the workplace. He also volunteers working with children with complex needs such as learning or physical disabilities.

Natasha, who grew up in the meadows area of Nottingham, set up her business ‘Go Digital’ over 15 years ago. Over the years Natasha’s support has engaged some of the most marginalised individuals and communities to gain digital and work skills. Whilst many of her projects have been in Nottingham, she now works internationally as well.

Claire Jamieson, Diversity and Inclusion Manager for E.ON, who presented the awards to Alex and Natasha said:

“It was fantastic to be able to acknowledge and highlight people like Alex and Natasha who are an inspiration to everyone and how it’s possible not only to fulfil your potential in your career, but also really make a difference to people’s lives.”

It was a really great opportunity for us to have a glimpse at what excellence looks like in Nottingham, so much so that we are sponsors again for 2017. Nominations have now closed, but you can still get a ticket to enjoy the ceremony.

From the general community to our student intake, we are also striving to achieve more diversity in terms of those that join us. We have partnered with the Bright Network as the sponsor of the Bright Network’s Black Heritage Hub, encouraging undergraduate students and recent graduates with black heritage backgrounds to consider where their career path could take them at E.ON.

We are working with different student and graduate recruitment agencies to promote our graduate and undergraduate roles specifically to students from BAME backgrounds. On one hand we are promoting the roles that we are trying to fill, and on the other attempting to bring a greater amount of ethnic diversity into our annual graduate intake.

As recent graduate, Ashley Johnson said:

“My personal experience of E.ON’s culture has been one of inclusiveness and support. I feel fortunate to have started my career with a business that invests in a diverse group of graduates and appreciates that each person has a unique skill set and aspirations. As I come from an Afro Caribbean background, it’s great to know that E.ON are working towards greater engagement in securing ambitious graduates from BAME backgrounds. I see this as a good opportunity to invest in talented people from diverse backgrounds who have the potential to become future leaders.”

With over 5 million UK customers, the issue of inclusivity is important to us as our 10,000 members of staff should represent those that we serve. Internally this means that we have a number of support networks covering a wide range of different groups, including our own BAME network. This is not only focusing on what we do ourselves but also looking for synergies with other large organisations in and around the Nottingham area, with there being plans in the future to collaborate with Rolls Royce, Nottingham City Council and Network Rail amongst others. We also have two diversity and inclusion managers internally tasked with ensuring that we continue to welcome as diverse a range of applicants as possible into our company. This is very well summarized by our mission statement on our internal fairness and inclusion diversity hub:

“At E.ON we believe that the diversity of our people is one of our biggest strengths. We face a variety of challenges daily and we know that it’s only by tapping into different ideas and perspectives that we’ll be able to overcome those challenges. We’re committed to creating a supportive, inclusive culture in which people from all walks of life can achieve and exceed their potential.”

Externally we are also constantly looking for ways that we can raise our company profile with various diversity related groups and local events. A great example of this is in October, where to celebrate Black History Month we will be talking to a company called Nottingham Black Archive which is dedicated to collecting, preserving and celebrating the histories of people of African descent in Nottingham. The Nottingham Black Archive programme of exhibitions and events provide a platform from which to share the diversity of cultures originating from Africa and the Caribbean, past and present. The collection promotes the teaching, learning and understanding of African Caribbean peoples’ contribution to Nottingham and provides an accessible permanent record of the richness of the Black experience in Nottingham.

We therefore have a lot going on in the diversity and inclusion space at the moment, and will be dedicating even more attention on this in future. There will always be room for improvement, but like many companies we are focusing ever more upon creating a totally inclusive environment for all of our colleagues. We are proud of what we have achieved in this space so far and look forward to doing more in the future.

FInd out more about E.ON and their opportunities right here.