Unipart Group has long recognised that having a diverse and engaged employee base is key to our success. We also recognise that achieving a gender balanced company is challenging in the sectors in which we operate as they have traditionally attracted more men than women.
For many years we voluntarily published information on our gender pay gap as part of our corporate responsibility reporting and we have continually sought ways to reduce our pay gap through encouraging more women to join our businesses and having effective and inclusive talent pipelines.
We are confident that our approach will deliver results in the long term, and we are seeing positive results in terms of the gender divide at the most senior, and therefore, highest paid levels of our company. However we accept that, because our approach is aimed at some of the root causes of the gender pay divide rather than being based on quotas and ‘ticking boxes’, it will take time to deliver sustainable results. In the meantime we will continue to see fluctuations in our gender pay gap numbers which are subject to numerous other variables.
It is the nature of our business that we’ll see continuous and often significant change to the size and composition of our workforce. During the 2017-18 reporting period, we saw a 30% change in the composition of our workforce with colleagues transferring either in or out of our business. In the 2018-2019 reporting period, we have seen the size of our operational workforce in our largest business division almost double in size as a result of new business. These colleagues have joined us via TUPE (transfer of undertakings protection of employment), consequently their terms of employment including basic pay and bonus arrangements must reflect those of their previous employer. Inevitably this impacts our gender pay gap numbers and causes annual fluctuations.
Despite this, our median gender pay gap, which varies from 4.6% to 14%, is still better than the national average of 17.3% (Office of National Statistics 2019, Gender pay gap for full and part time workers).
We know that we need to attract, develop and retain talent that reflects the diversity of society as a whole if we are to continue to be successful and meet the huge challenges of the 4th Industrial Revolution as well as the end of the transition period and ultimate exit from the European Union. To this end, we remain committed to our policies and programmes aimed at achieving a balanced and diverse employee base in which everyone is encouraged to do his or her best work every day and has an equal opportunity to be great.
AN OVERVIEW OF OUR PAY AND BONUS DATA
As a group of companies, under the new regulations we are required to report separately on each of our legal entities with at least 250 employers – we currently have three such entities as listed below.
Unipart Group Ltd
Kautex Unipart Ltd
Unipart Rail Ltd
UNDERSTANDING OUR GENDER PAY GAP
To understand our gender pay gap, it’s important to understand our history and growth as an organisation, as well as the trends and challenges of the specific sectors in which we operate.
Unipart Group is a privately owned company with origins in the automotive sector; latterly expanding into rail and manufacturing. All of these sectors have traditionally attracted more male employees and this is reflected in the composition of our workforce which has a 7:3 male to female ratio.
In addition to this, as an organisation we have generally experienced very low levels of turnover at a senior level. Such low turnover is important to our organisation. We invest strongly in the training and long term development of our people, particularly in The Unipart Way (a system which defines our philosophy and way of working). However, it also means that our plans and activities aimed at increasing diversity at a senior level will take time to deliver results.
Furthermore, as a consequence of TUPE transfers in and out of our business that result from business changes, we frequently face significant changes in the composition of our workforce over which we have limited control. In the 2017/18 reporting period we experienced a particularly significant series of changes of this nature which saw a 30% change in our composition. During the 2018/19 period we’ve seen the workforce in our largest division almost double in size. This has impacted the pay gap numbers in every part of our business, with our rail division being particularly impacted as a result of ongoing acquisitions of specialist engineering-type businesses. These businesses primarily employ male engineers on high levels of pay, so given the already quite small proportion of women in this business, these acquisitions have had a significant impact on our gender pay numbers.
We want to increase the number of women in our business and, to do this, we need to increase the number of women who apply for roles with us. We firmly believe in employing the best candidate for each job. Consequently our senior female leaders can be confident that they are in role because of their performance and capability, not their gender. In order to address the imbalance at a senior level, we are focusing our efforts on a range of programmes aimed at attracting more women into our organisation. For example, we have looked hard at the criteria for making it as easy as possible for women and men to balance the demands of family life with work. We have also developed inclusive talent pipelines to develop a more diverse profile amongst our senior leadership teams.
CLOSING THE GAP
Encouraging girls and women into STEM careers
At Unipart we have a long established strategy to ‘Encourage young people into adopting careers in Logistics and Manufacturing’ based on our realisation that, if we are to secure the resources that we need to sustain and grow our businesses, we need to take a proactive role in working with and supporting schools and colleges to develop the industry-ready employees of the future.
Our strategy has evolved over a period of 10 years and includes programmes to address students from aged 10 upward and covering all abilities and backgrounds. Programmes at the younger end of the spectrum focus on raising awareness of how learning in school can be applied to real jobs in manufacturing and logistics. These community programmes are aimed equally at boys and girls. However, in 2018 and 2019, our manufacturing business elected to work with an all-girls’ school on ‘Go4Set’, a 10 week STEM project for students aged between 12-14 years that forms part of the Industrial Cadets programme.
Levels of engagement in the work carried out in our operational sites increases as the age of the students rises, culminating in students using their skills to solve real-life engineering problems in the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering, our joint venture with Coventry University. 2019 saw us recruit our first female graduate engineer from this exciting collaboration. In addition, our rail division has recruited two female engineering apprentices, one at higher level and one at advanced level. Although these numbers are relatively small, we hope that these young women will serve as role models to other girls and young women considering careers in engineering and manufacturing.
Over recent years we have thoroughly examined our recruitment practices to better understand the applicant profile and enable us to increase the diversity of this profile.
We have taken simple steps such as changing the images used in campaigns to reflect society more widely. We are targeting advertising and other methods of attracting applicants using those methods that we have identified give us the most diverse range of applicant.
We have studied the criteria for roles in the operational parts of our business and questioned our own assumptions regarding certain requirements, for example, to have previous experience in similar operational environments. More recently we have deployed technology such gender decoders for our recruitment advertisement. These tools will highlight gender-biased language so we can amend adverts as appropriate to make them gender neutral and more appealing.
We use assessment tools and methods from accredited sources such as the British Psychological Society, and are careful to deploy these tools as required for specific roles – rather than simply across the board.
We very aware of the impact of unconscious bias on individual hiring decisions and require all those who are regularly involved in recruitment decisions (particularly within the HR function) to undergo Diversity and Inclusion training which aims to remove unconscious bias from our recruitment processes.
Inclusive talent pipelines
We recognise that if we are to close our gender pay gap we need more women – and not just in senior roles. Consequently, our commitment to people development applies across our entire employee base at all levels. We have created an employee development philosophy which we call ‘Gate to Great’. This enables each employee to reach his or her full potential at a rate of learning matched to his or her experience and abilities, and is based on the premise that, with deliberate practice within a designed system, we all have the potential to be great.
All employees within the business have ‘Gate to Great’ development plans (called their Gate to Great Journey) appropriate to his or her role and aspirations.
Nowhere is this better demonstrated than through our suite of standard development programmes which include:
- Developing Team Leader Programme – Operational colleagues developing towards Team Leader roles
- Management Gate to Great – All team Leaders and Operations Managers, functional leaders at junior to middle management level
- Leadership Gate to Great – Leadership development programme for more senior leaders
In addition we have specific programmes aimed at developing our talent and future leaders which include:
- Future Leaders Network – development for high potential junior/middle managers and emerging talent
- Leadership Excellence Network – accelerated development for more senior Leaders
In addition to these programmes, we offer apprenticeships across a range of disciplines including finance, human resources, business improvement techniques, leadership and management, digital, business administration and customer services.
We carefully monitor progression of women in our company by, amongst other things, tracking how many women work in our operational areas and are developing into leadership roles. One way in which we do this is by tracking the percentage of female team leaders, which currently stands at 29%. This reflects the percentage of women in the business overall and is an improvement over previous years.
We also monitor how many participants in our Leadership and Senior Leadership Development programmes are women. This currently stands at 20%, and we are considering ways in which we can encourage more of our female employees to put themselves forward for these programmes.
Over the past couple of years, the result of this work has begun to manifest itself at our most senior leadership team level (the Group Leadership Team). Since 2017, the percentage of women has increased from 14% to 27% – a much better reflection of the gender split across our organisation.
Flexible working and family friendly policies
If we are to tackle some of the challenges that underpin the gender pay gap, we need to make it as easy as possible for women AND men to balance the challenges of family life with work; in particular after the birth or adoption of a child or when faced with caring for relatives with long term health conditions or who are elderly.
We recognised this many years ago and, in addition to part-time and working from home policies, we introduced a Flexible Working Policy long before it became a legal requirement. This enables both men and women to request working patterns and arrangements that enable them to meet the demands of their home life alongside their role in Unipart.
These policies are a strong retention tool and make a significant contribution to improving retention of valuable skills across our organisation.
As a responsible business we recognise that it is critical for our company to significantly reduce the gender pay gap. The insights we gain from our pay gap reporting help us to evolve our programmes, albeit we accept that it will take time for the impact of these programmes to reflect in our pay gap numbers, particularly in light of the very variable nature of our workforce composition.
We’ve never believed in appointing women for the purpose of ‘ticking a box’ or achieving a quota but remain absolutely focussed on encouraging more women to apply for jobs in our businesses at all levels and having inclusive talent development pipelines to help address the gender imbalance at the most senior levels of our organisation.
Chairman and Group Chief Executive