More inclusive

Our 2020 goal: Nurture an engaged workforce that represents the diversity of our customers and communities.

Why this is important to us

Diversity of thought, background and experience is essential to drive business performance. While the business case to create an engaged and diverse workforce is widely understood and accepted, there are many indicators that there’s a lot more work to do. The findings of the gender pay gap, the low representation of women in senior positions, the low uptake of women entering science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) roles, and the disability employment gap are a few of the examples showing a lot more progress is required.

At Virgin Media, we know building an inclusive environment is essential to our growth. We’re working on building a fully inclusive culture, celebrating everybody’s individuality and differences. We also believe we have a pivotal role within our industry to drive improved gender balance and help those with disabilities to thrive at work.

How we’re making it happen

When we set our 5 in 5 goals we initially intended to tackle inclusion in the broadest sense and wanted to be able to show, in a measured way, how we are representing the customers and communities we serve. However, one year into our 2020 strategy it became clear we needed to concentrate our efforts to drive real impact. So we focused on creating a more gender balanced workforce where we employ and retain more women who can thrive at all levels of the business. In line with our strategic partnership with Scope, we’ve also made disability inclusion our big focus.

This focus was informed by 4 key factors;

  • We had a low representation of females in several parts of our business, including in customer facing roles. We weren’t representing the communities we serve.
  • We had high attrition of females in key areas. This indicated underlying issues that would prevent a more balanced workforce and created increased costs to the business
  • Through our partnership with Scope, and an extensive disability review conducted in early 2017, we identified a series of areas where we could improve the way we support disabled employees and customers. Not only was it imperative that we tackled the disability barriers identified, there was a clear business case for attracting and retaining disabled people into our business as employees and as customers.
  • One in five people in the UK are disabled. We weren’t doing enough to represent what should be a significant part of our employee and customer base

We have underpinning gender and disability action plans. Our gender plan includes the actions outlined in our Gender Pay Gap report.

2019 performance

  • Disability inclusion: Started work with Microlink to further improve the efficiency of our workplace adjustments process from end to end. Announced a new, industry leading set of vulnerable customer measures. During National Inclusion Week, we empowered our people (including some of our disabled employees) to share personal experiences. This acted as a springboard for a successful campaign to drive up disclosure on our people’s ethnicity and disability. We also launched a series of Belonging panels across our core sites, bringing people together with panels of experts to discuss inclusion in our business and beyond. We’re now turning our attention towards attaining Disability Confident Level 3.
  • Gender balance: We’ve taken positive steps in 2019, recruiting more women in apprenticeship, graduate and engineering roles. This includes recruiting an equal number of men and women on to the Virgin Media Business’ engineering apprenticeship scheme and ensuring over 50% of our graduates recruited in 2019 were female. We’re also offering more flexible and part-time contracts for returning mums. We also took action to get more women into senior roles across the organisation and developed our ‘Lean in’ and Women in Cable Technology (WICT) networks to provide support and coaching. This work continues beyond our 2020 strategy.  

These are our performance highlights for 2019, the final year of our 2020 More Inclusive goal. If you are looking for information on our 2019 activity, take a look at the full report.

2020 reflections

  • Disability inclusion: In 2017 we conducted an extensive disability review looking at how we were supporting disabled employees and customers, which resulted in our Disability Action Plan. That plan has delivered, and continues to deliver,  a series of impactful and wide-ranging initiatives. These include revamping our priority fault service for disabled and vulnerable customers; conducting disabled user testing for new products; training recruiters on writing inclusive job adverts and screening for bias; launching an internal disability network; delivering disability and vulnerability training to 97% of our customer facing workforce; appointing Jeff Dodds, Chief Operating Officer, as the executive sponsor of disability; and overhauling our workplace adjustments process, reducing the time for workplace adjustments in volume recruitment from 12 weeks to one week. This is progress we’re proud of, but it certainly hasn’t happened overnight. We’ve learnt that building a more inclusive culture takes years not months, and requires a company-wide approach with a solid action plan underpinning executive commitment. Getting the foundations right is vital, and establishing effective policies and processes across people and customer operations, like an easy-to-access workplace adjustments process, provide the foundations on which you can build trust among employees and a genuine culture of Belonging.
  • Gender balance: Being straight up, we’ve not hit the mark on this one. When we set a 50:50 gender balance target back in 2015 we knew it was incredibly ambitious. We’ve implemented a series of initiatives including targeted female shortlisting for recruitment into senior roles, training recruitment teams on unconscious bias, and focusing on the recruitment of women into field roles, particularly with STEM backgrounds. Despite this, only 28.3% of our workforce was female at the end of 2019. We have a lot of passionate people, but we haven’t always been equipped with the tools, knowledge and support structures to drive change on a large scale – and perhaps this goal proved too ambitious. Our experience over the last five years has taught us that a much smarter, more targeted approach is needed to deliver progress towards gender parity. Our focus now is on business areas where there’s a greater gender disparity. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we’re up for the challenge.
  • Our aim was not only to build a more inclusive workforce but a more engaged workforce. At the end of 2019 our employee engagement score was 79%.

What’s next

We've just launched our new Belonging strategy which has three core pillars; building a diverse workforce, creating a safe working environment where voices are heard and valued and creating belonging across our people, products and society.

This is our Belonging vision:

At Virgin Media, were building connections that really matter. We're building a place where everyone belongs. A place where everyone is empowered to bring and be their whole selves at work. Its the only way we can truly work as one team, creating a high-performing culture that'll bring business results like we've never seen.

We really want to understand our people and customers to see them as the diverse and unique individuals that they are, with varied backgrounds, experiences, races, gender identities, sexualities, ages, religions and abilities.

This is our moment  our chance to make a permanent change, at scale, to improve our impact on the world and make sure no one is left behind on our journey to build meaningful connections.