Board members and senior managers need to be in tune with the culture of the company, particularly as we start our new five-year asset management period.

Sir David Higgins

Chair of the nomination committee


Quick facts

  • All members of the committee are independent, thus fulfilling the Code requirement that a "majority of members of the nomination committee should be independent non-executive directors".
  • The role of the committee is to lead the process for appointments to the board and ensure plans are in place for orderly succession to both the board and senior management positions and oversee a diverse pipeline for succession.
  • The company secretary attends all meetings of the committee.
  • The customer services and people director has responsibility for human resources, regularly attends meetings and is responsible for engaging with executive search recruitment advisers.
  • The CEO is not a member of the committee, but from time to time is invited to attend. Neither the Chairman nor the CEO would participate in the recruitment of their own successor.

Quick links

Nomination committee members

Sir david higgins (chair)

Stephen Carter

Brian May

Mark Clare

Paulette Rowe

Alison Goligher

Sara Weller

Dear Shareholder

On joining the board, all independent non-executive directors become members of the nomination committee. I assumed the role as chairman of the committee with effect from 1 January 2020, after Dr John McAdam stepped down from the board on 31 December 2019.

We announced on 5 February 2020 that Russ Houlden, after over nine years as CFO, would be retiring from the board and not seeking reappointment at the AGM in July 2020. On 28 February 2020, it was further announced that Phil Aspin, group controller, would succeed Russ as CFO. The nomination committee instigated a thorough benchmarking exercise notwithstanding the knowledge that Phil was a particularly strong internal candidate and has been part of our succession plans for a number of years. Phil has shown his deep understanding of all aspects of the business and its needs, along with his independent mindset and strong technical and commercial skills. He has been a core part of the team in the group's transformational journey over the last ten years and it is particularly satisfying to promote an internal candidate to this important role.

On 16 March 2020 it was announced that Sara Weller, after eight years on the board and chair of the remuneration committee, was not seeking reappointment and would be standing down from the board on the conclusion of the AGM in July 2020. Steve Fraser, our former Chief Operating Officer, left the business with effect from 31 August 2019, to join Cadent Gas Limited.

Suffice to say, the nomination committee has been kept busy putting into practice our succession plans, which address both contingency planning needs and requirements in the short to medium term, and incorporate a reasonable degree of certainty on timescales for key board positions. The committee's role is to ensure and that the board and senior management have the appropriate balance of skills and experience to support the group's strategic objectives and that any developmental needs are met. Board members and senior managers need to be in tune with the culture of the company, particularly as we start our new five-year asset management period.

When Steve Fraser left the business on 31 August 2019, reporting lines were changed with certain members of the senior management team, each of whom had previously reported to Steve Fraser, reporting directly to Steve Mogford, CEO, resulting in a larger executive team of 15. Short biographies can be found on our website at unitedutilities.com/executiveteam. Excluding the CFO and CEO, there are 13 senior managers in the executive team, of which 30 per cent are women.

 

Historically, independent non-executive directors at United Utilities have served a term of between seven and nine years; a pattern that has facilitated the refreshing of the board in recent years almost on an annual basis, along with ensuring a high degree of continuity. Notwithstanding this, the specifics of each of the non-executive directors' time of departure have been driven by their own personal circumstances. Serving beyond a nine-year term is identified in the Code as being one of the reasons that could affect a non-executive director's independence. Currently two-thirds of board members are independent non-executive directors, fulfilling provisions 10 and 11 of the Code. Biographies of board directors can be found in the Corporate governance report.

Our board diversity policy (see Corporate governance report) is taken into account during every candidate selection process. Ultimately, we do strive to appoint the person we believe is best matched to the role in terms of what they have to offer the company and to make a positive contribution to the board conversation and board dynamics. Diversity of outlook and interest is essential to ensuring we have a variety of views to contribute to discussions and the decision-making process.

Sir David Higgins

Chair of the nomination committee

 

Main responsibilities of the committee

  • Lead the process for board appointments and make recommendations to the board about filling vacancies on the board, including the company secretary;
  • Consider the succession planning of directors and members of the executive team;
  • Make recommendations to the board on refreshing the membership of the board's principal committees;
  • Review directors' conflict authorisations;
  • Consider the request from executive directors for election to the boards of other companies and make a recommendation to the board; and
  • Consider requests from non-executive directors for election to the boards of other companies; this role has been delegated to the Chairman (other than in respect of his own requests).

Quick links

Directors' tenure as at 31 March 2020


3

   Composition, succession and evaluation

Code principleEvidence and outcomes
Principle J:
Appointments to the board should be subject to a formal, rigorous and transparent procedure, and an effective succession plan should be maintained for board and senior management. Both appointments and succession plans should be based on merit and objective criteria and, within this context, should promote diversity of gender, social and ethnic backgrounds, cognitive and personal strengths.
An explanation of the board appointments and succession planning activities can be found in the Nomination committee and forms our disclosure as part of provision 23. Our disclosure against provision 20 is in the Nomination committee. In relation to provision 23, our policy on board diversity is in the Nomination committee and details of the gender balance of senior management in the Nomination committee. Information on the company's approach to diversity and inclusion is set out in the Corporate governance report.
Principle K:
The board and its committees should have a combination of skills, experience and knowledge. Consideration should be given to the length of service of the board as a whole and membership regularly refreshed.
Biographies of the board can be found in the Board of directors. An overview of directors' areas of expertise is set out in the skills matrix in the Nomination committee and the length of service of board members in the Nomination committee. Board biographies include our reporting against provision 18.
Principle L:
Annual evaluation of the board should consider its composition, diversity and how effectively members work together to achieve objectives. Individual evaluation should demonstrate whether each director continues to contribute effectively.
Details of the board evaluation and disclosure against provision 23 can be found in the Nomination committee.

 

Age and gender profile

Chairman

Executive director

Senior independent non-executive director

Independent non-executive director

What has been on the committee’s agenda during the year?

Board succession

In line with the board succession plan, and the approximate timescales therein, the process of the appointment of the successor to Russ Houlden as CFO was undertaken resulting in the announcement in February 2020 that Phil Aspin, group controller, would be appointed as CFO at the conclusion of the AGM on 24 July 2020 following Russ Houlden’s retirement from the board. The committee is supported during any recruitment process by the customer services and people director, Louise Beardmore, as part of her human resources responsibilities. The executive search firm Lygon Group were engaged as part of the recruitment process and, against the brief for the role, undertook the benchmarking exercise against a number of external candidates. As a member of the senior management team, and part of the board succession plans, Phil has been very visible to the board for a number of years. Phil joined the business in 1994 having qualified as a chartered accountant with KPMG, and has held various senior roles within the group’s finance function. In his role as group controller he has responsibility for financial and regulatory accounting; prior to this role he was group treasurer and is a member of the Association of Corporate Treasurers.

The succession planning matrix tool and skills matrix for board directors is used to support the planning process for board appointments. The succession planning matrix highlights the Code governance requirements; existing directors’ terms of appointment and a forecast/anticipated time frame when an individual might leave the business; the projected strategic needs of the business and resulting preferred experience of any potential new board member; existing potential internal successors to a role (where identified) and those who could act as an interim should the need arise. A candidate suitable for the role of CEO would need to demonstrate that their management approach would fit with the company’s culture of behaving responsibly. The committee would seek to consult with the incumbent CEO, given his unique knowledge and perspective of the group, on his view of the needs of the business going forwards. Neither the Chairman nor the CEO would be involved in the appointment process of their successor.

Other than providing executive search services on previous occasions Lygon Group have no other connection with the company.

Membership of the principal board committees

Sir David Higgins became a member of the nomination committee on appointment and took over as chair with effect from 1 January 2020. On Sara Weller leaving the board at the conclusion of the AGM in July, Alison Goligher will become chair of the remuneration committee.

The board is satisfied that the membership of the audit committee is in accordance with Code provision 24, and that the membership of the remuneration committee is in accordance with provision 32.

Board diversity

The board diversity policy is to ensure the selection process for board appointments provides access to a range of candidates. Any appointments will be made on the basis of merit and objective criteria, and within this context, should promote diversity of gender, social and ethnic backgrounds, cognitive and personal strengths, but with due regard for the benefits of diversity on the board, including gender diversity. The objective of the policy is for new directors to bring something different to the board table, be it in terms of experience, skills, perspective, interests or other attributes. As referred to above, our board diversity policy would be brought to the attention of any executive search firm used as part of the selection and appointment process for a board position. Feedback would be sought from the search firm in terms of their success in attracting potential candidates with diversity of attributes and from any interview process conducted by other board members and taken into consideration in identifying suitable candidates. We recognise the benefits of diversity, and its contribution to the effectiveness of the board decision-making process and have met our measurable targets with 33 per cent female representation on the board and one director of non-white ethnicity. Furthermore, we recognise the benefits of diversity across our entire employee population with initiatives in place to support women in the workplace and the ethnic imbalance of our workforce and aligns with our strategic theme of operating our business in a responsible manner Read more about What we have done to improve diversity and inclusion in 2019/20.

Summary of board diversity policy

  • Ensure the selection process for board appointments provides access to a range of candidates. Any such appointments will be made on the basis of merit and objective criteria, and within this context, should promote diversity of gender, social and ethnic backgrounds, cognitive and personal strengths.
  • Ensure that the policies adopted by the group will promote diversity in the broadest sense among senior managers who will in turn aspire to a board position.
  • In selecting candidates for board positions, only use the services of executive search firms who have signed up to the voluntary code of conduct for executive search firms as recommended by the Davies Report.
  • Adopt measurable objectives from time to time for achieving gender diversity at board level, which shall be to maintain at least 25 per cent, and aspire to 33 per cent female representation by 2020, and to have at least one director of non-white ethnicity by 2021.

Skills matrix of board directors

Finance/
accounting
UtilitiesRegulationGovernmentConstruction/
engineering
IndustrialCustomer- facingFTSE companies
Sir David Higgins

 

 

 

Steve Mogford

 

 

 

 

Russ Houlden

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Clare

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sara Weller

 

 

 

 

Brian May

 

 

 

 

Stephen Carter

 

 

 

 

 

Alison Goligher

 

 

 

Paulette Rowe

 

 

 

Sir David’s induction programme

During the year the Chairman undertook two extended visits to the company’s main offices in Warrington where he met with all members of the executive team:

  • Met with the digital services director to gain an understanding of the digital monitoring and control of the group’s water and wastewater network and assets and the work of the innovation team;
  • Met with the company secretary to gain an understanding of the group’s corporate structure, governance arrangements and associated processes and met with Slaughter and May the group’s legal adviser to receive an external perspective on governance and best practice;
  • Met with the CFO and members of the finance function and gained external perspective from the group’s statutory auditor, KPMG;
  • Met with the corporate affairs director and head of the press office;
  • Met with the customer services and people director to discuss the actions undertaken by the business to improve service to customers and the group’s employee agenda and the director of health, safety and wellbeing;
  • Met with the director of wastewater and the water process and scientific services director to gain an understanding of the company’s operations and about the company’s bioprocessing facilities from the bioresources director;
  • Met with the strategy and regulation director and the environment and asset strategy director to discuss the requirements of the economic and quality regulators; and
  • Met with the engineering director and the network and capital delivery director and visited the West Cumbria pipeline project and the Haweswater aqueduct resilience project.

Evaluation of the board and board committees

Our board evaluation was conducted internally this year; our last external evaluation was conducted by Lintstock consultants in 2018.

The evaluation process was facilitated by the company secretary and his team. Read more about our 2018/19 evaluation recommendations and Actions taken during 2019/20.

A summary of the internal analysis of the 2019/20 evaluation is as follows:

2019/20 areas of assessmentCommentary and actions
Board composition
and expertise

The composition of the board was considered to be a diverse group of high-quality non-executive and executive directors, with a variety of skills, expertise and knowledge.

Board agenda

The board was well informed about the regulatory environment within which the company operates and had a good understanding of the views of customers, regulators and investors. The agendas were well balanced, and site visits were welcomed and added significant value, and with the introduction of the Employee Voice panel, the board would gain a more in-depth insight into the views of employees and the culture of the group.

Board dynamics

The relationship between the board members was appropriate. Board meetings were conducted in an atmosphere of open communication, meaningful and equal participation from all board members and the proper resolution of issues.

Board support

The timeliness of the distribution of board documentation was satisfactory, but could be improved. Executive summaries of board papers were used effectively although board packs were sometimes considered to be too lengthy.

Wider strategic oversight

The involvement of the board in the development of the strategic direction of the group was considered to be appropriate. Moving forwards, more focus was needed on longer term business priorities such as climate change, technology and innovation, resilience and people development.

Risk management and internal control

The board’s approach to the management of risk and to its systems of internal control were considered to be appropriate. The information received relating to risk management was rated highly with good visibility of operational and reputational risks.

Succession planning and human resource management

Succession plans for the board were in place with outline timescales, with both the Chairman and the CFO’s succession being addressed during the year.

Committees

The composition and performance of the audit, remuneration, nomination, corporate responsibility and treasury committees were considered to be appropriate. The feedback to the board by committee chairs was full and transparent and meetings chaired effectively. Specific comments/actions were identified as follows:

  • Nomination committee: continuing the focus on succession planning for executive and non-executive board positions;
  • Remuneration committee: ensuring the remuneration package for any new executive director was in line with market practice; the different perspectives of the remuneration consultants were fully explored and that the committee was kept abreast of relevant governance best practice;
  • Audit committee: the authors of committee papers to focus on the key issues to be brought to the attention of the committee particularly in relation to the risk management systems and controls; and
  • Corporate responsibility committee: the priorities for discussion over the next 18 months should be identified.
Individual directors

The individual performance of all the directors was assessed: all the non-executive directors were considered to be contributing effectively to the board, and all directors demonstrated the expected level of commitment to their roles. Individual directors were asked to identify how they could improve their overall contribution to the board and its committees and if they had any skill or knowledge gaps that could be addressed. The following were identified: gaining a more in-depth knowledge of the company and its customers; arranging more opportunities for interaction with members of the executive team together with field and operational site visits to specific areas of the business outside of board meetings.

The review of the Chairman’s performance (led by the senior independent director) concluded that
Dr McAdam had continued to demonstrate an effective and unbiased perspective, notwithstanding that he had served for over 11 years as a board director by 31 December 2019, when he stood down from the board. It was agreed that, during the year, Dr McAdam had fulfilled the expected commitment to the role and was an effective leader of the board. The directors offering themselves for reappointment at the 2020 AGM are set out in the biographies of the Board of directors

2018/19 evaluation recommendationsActions taken during 2019/20

The timeliness of the distribution of board documentation was satisfactory, but could be improved. Executive summaries of board papers
were used effectively although board packs were sometimes considered to be too lengthy.

Board paper templates were reissued to the executive team and authors of board/committee papers, encouraging greater focus on key issues, and where appropriate, S172 duties.

Nomination committee: more regular meetings would be required over the next year within agreed timescales.

The workload of the nomination committee, primarily in addressing the succession of the Chairman and the CFO necessitated a significant increase in the number of meetings held during the year.

Audit committee: the balance between detail and simplification in audit papers should continue to be reviewed.

Audit committee papers have focused on key issues, with greater use of appendices for the explanation of detail.

Corporate responsibility committee: the implications of the outcome for the business plan submission for the committee’s agenda should be kept under review.

Following acceptance of the final determination in January 2020, the committee has included a number of discussion points to its agenda such as natural capital, surface water management and air quality.

Ongoing board development and training

Board directors regularly receive updates to improve their understanding and knowledge about the business and, in particular, its regulatory environment. As part of the individual directors element of the board evaluation exercise, directors are asked to identify any skills or knowledge gaps they would like to address. Directors made a number of suggestions, as set out above.

Consideration of environmental and social issues are fundamental to the way in which we operate as a responsible business at United Utilities; such matters are central to board discussions Here. The board’s approach to these matters is reflected in our strategic themes, and our corporate culture of behaving in a responsible manner as reflected throughout the strategic report. Through presentations and discussions with representatives of YourVoice, the independent customer challenge group, whose role is predicated on protecting customer interest in how the group goes about its business, the board is kept informed of customer, in-region environmental affairs and social matters.

In addition to this less formal approach to board development, during the year the board also received briefings from both Slaughter and May (legal and governance matters) and KPMG (governance changes relating to reporting requirements), along with a number of other advisers. A number of board members also attended a number of events organised by Ofwat for non-executive directors.

Our non-executive directors are conscious of the need to keep themselves properly briefed and informed about current issues and to deepen their understanding of the business. During the year, as part of the ongoing work to ensure the board has a direct link to understand the views of employees Here, Alison has spent time meeting employees in different areas of the business to gain an understanding of everyday life and the culture of the business. Alison attended the North West affordability summit organised by the company bringing together agencies and support groups from across the region. The Chairman, Alison Goligher and Paulette Rowe attended the management conference in February 2020.

Internal board evaluation

1Questionnaires

  • The evaluation was based on the completion of questionnaires (including questions to be scored and free text questions) by board members assessing both the performance of the board and each of its principal committees, as well as that of the Chairman and each of the individual non-executive directors.
  • Board members were also asked to provide a view on how well the actions identified in the 2018/19 evaluation had been addressed.
  • In addition to board members, other members of the executive team who regularly attend and support the various committee meetings were also asked to participate in the evaluation process.

2Appraisal

  • The results were reviewed by the company secretary.

3Consultation

  • The results, once reviewed by the company secretary, were then discussed with the Chairman and the chair of the relevant committee, tabled at a meeting of the relevant committee, and then presented to the board.

4Evaluation

  • The Chairman reviewed the performance of the individual directors. Mark Clare, as the senior independent non-executive director led the review of Dr John McAdam's performance as Chairman, which was shared with board colleagues.

5Outcomes

  • The Chairman followed up on the evaluation findings with appropriate actions.

Induction of new non-executive directors

An induction programme is designed for each new non-executive director. It would include one-to-one meetings with the Chairman and each of the existing non-executive directors. They will have one-to-one meetings with the CEO, CFO and the company secretary along with other members of the executive team. They will also meet members of the operational teams and visit some of the key operational sites and capital projects to ensure they get a first-hand understanding of the water and wastewater business. New directors receive a briefing on the key duties of being a director of a regulated water company, including the role of the regulated company’s holding company. They will also meet with the strategy and regulation director and are required to meet with representatives of Ofwat.

Wider succession pipeline and talent management

For a number of years, we have had a written succession plan for our executive directors and other members of the executive team, which includes outline timescales. The plan identifies an interim internal successor to fill a role in the short term should the need arise, and the longer-term development needs of potential successors to be able to fulfil a role on a more permanent basis. As with all our board appointments, we would always aim to appoint the best person to fulfil a role. It would be common, when recruiting for a senior role, for an external search to be conducted alongside an internal candidate recruitment process.

Any changes that are required to the profile of the management team to reflect the changing needs of the business are considered by the board in the executive succession plan. Succession and development initiatives for senior executives include executive mentoring and coaching and participating in an executive business school programme. Leadership development centres have been delivered to identify and validate potential for future director and senior leader positions and develop a number of role-ready diverse candidates to provide the group with leadership capacity in an increasingly complex environment. Senior managers are encouraged to take on a non-executive directorship role as part of their personal development, but it is recognised that this is very much a personal commitment for each individual. We continue to work towards improving our gender balance across our employee population as part of our ongoing diversity and inclusion plan.

30 per cent of our executive team (excluding the CEO and CFO) is made up of women. The gender balance of the direct reports of the executive team are 61 per cent male and 39 per cent female. We are keen to develop our succession pipeline of female senior managers so that, over time, they can be considered for executive board appointments or as potential candidates for non-executive directorships in other companies. Our current talent programme at a senior level is well embedded and we believe a non-executive appointment for senior managers provides an excellent opportunity for both personal and career development. It is a way of gaining valuable experience that may be applied at United Utilities so long as no conflicts of interest occur. Our graduate and apprentice programmes are thriving and we are focusing more effectively on middle/junior management succession. Read more about our gender pay data. Historically, our industry has been male dominated, but we have measures in place to increase diversity in broad terms, including gender among our employees.

During the year, board directors have a number of opportunities to meet with members of the executive team, both formally when senior managers are required to present at board meetings on matters related to their responsibilities, and on more informal occasions. From time to time, board members also have the opportunity to attend events and meet with members of the apprentice and graduate population and other employees identified as potential talent within the business.

What we have done to improve diversity and inclusion in 2019/20

Our commitment to providing a diverse and inclusive workforce, now and for the future, is more relevant than ever before. We need fantastic people to enable us to deliver a great public service. We want to make sure we are reaching and recruiting from every community and then supporting employees to achieve their full potential.

Our diversity and inclusion steering group is tasked with driving the inclusion strategy and has five key focus areas and uses data and metrics to monitor progress:

  • Removing barriers by working with target communities to attract a more diverse workforce;
  • Taking positive action by evolving how we recruit employees;
  • Providing support for all employees to ensure they feel valued and included regardless of their gender, age, race, disability, sexual orientation or social background;
  • Developing our leaders, managers and employees to raise the importance of inclusion within our workplace; and
  • Providing flexible working opportunities so that current and future can balance home and working life.

Gender

Throughout 2019/20, our workforce profile has remained quite static at 65 per cent male and 35 per cent female. This is primarily due to the limited supply of females with the relevant skills available in the market and the legacy of a traditional male-orientated bias in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers.

Any meaningful and significant change in our gender balance will also require a shift in wider society and in the education system. Research indicates that there continues to be significantly fewer females than males studying STEM subjects in secondary schools and universities, which means that females continue to be under-represented in jobs requiring such skills. Indeed, females made up only circa 15 per cent of the UK workforce employed in core STEM-related jobs in 2018 (WISE campaign summary of Office for National Statistics Labour Force Survey data).

The United Utilities Aspiring Manager Programme has 44 per cent female participants. The overall number of female graduates is 41 per cent; this number has been growing year on year for the past five years. As we offer predominantly STEM- based programmes, we are encouraged to see a more gender balanced pool of future talent. The apprentice population is 18 per cent female, an increase from 9 per cent since 2014/15, and
this compares favourably with other companies
in the sector.

We continue to:

  • Celebrate the success of those of our senior and emerging female leaders included in the Northern Women Future List;
  • Look for targeted development for our future female leaders with cross company mentoring schemes and targeted personal development to support future progression;
  • Actively encourage employees to join the gender equality network within the business;
  • Be part of the 30 per cent Club campaign to achieve the target of 30 per cent female representation in senior leadership teams by 2020; and
  • Inspire future generations through our education- based STEM programmes actively promoting STEM-related educational paths, careers and opportunities specifically to females across the North West.

Disability

In the North West, 19 per cent of the working age population are disabled or live with a long-term health condition. Less than 1 per cent of our employees have declared disabilities or long-term health conditions. Our ability network aims to support employees with, or those who support, people with a disability or long-term health conditions. Having gained Disability Confident status, we have continued to offer guaranteed interviews and make reasonable adjustments for people who are registered with a disability. We will continue to promote this to attract candidates from the widest talent pool.

Throughout 2019/20, we have delivered disability awareness training to over 150 managers, with 92 per cent of participants rating the training as excellent.

Louise Beardmore, customer services and people director, sponsors and raises awareness of dyslexia across the business. We continue to participate in national events such as National Dyslexia week to educate, create awareness and provide support for employees with various conditions.

Ethnicity

The black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) representation of our workforce is 2 per cent (15 per cent of our workforce choose not to disclose ethnicity). Attracting a future pipeline of employees from multi-cultural backgrounds remains a priority.

In 2019 we launched a multicultural employee network that aims to support colleagues and educate the wider workforce by providing insight and stories from a range of cultural backgrounds.

We have strategic partnerships with schools, colleges and universities, with higher levels of BAME presence among their student population, in order to improve the ethnicity of our workforce profile. We have recruited a number of university ambassadors from our partnered universities to actively promote our opportunities to BAME networks across their universities.

We are members of the National Apprenticeship Champions Diversity Network Forum, which works alongside other companies in the UK, to address the challenge of recruiting more apprentices from BAME backgrounds. We have joined the Energy and Utility Skills Diversity Forum to enable us to promote and contribute to the agenda in our sector.

Social mobility

In 2018, we signed up to the UK Government’s Social Mobility Pledge, committing to provide support to people from communities with low social mobility. Youth unemployment in the North West is higher than the national average at 11.2 per cent. We recognise that our region’s young people come from a range of socio-economic backgrounds, which can contribute, along with personal challenges, to the difficulties of finding work.

Social Mobility Commission research revealed that 41 per cent of people living in the North West believe that opportunities to progress in their region are poor; while 78 per cent of people in London think their progression opportunities are good.

Therefore we provide employment, enrichment and educational opportunities to targeted communities who experience low social mobility. For the past six years, we have continued to lead our youth programme in collaboration with our supply chain partners. This programme supports young people from across our region who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) to become work ready. This collaboration has supported over 120 young people, with 74 per cent of participants in paid employment after the programme. The Prince’s Trust measure the social value of the programme at £150,000 per person.

United Utilities are in their second year of supporting Salford Universitys Care Leaver Mentoring programme, where senior leaders mentor a second year student who has come through the care system. We have also lead mentoring circle sessions with five separate DWPs across the North West, which support 18 to 24 year-olds who are either BAME or have disabilities or long-term health conditions.

Flexible working

Based on employee feedback, we have refocused our approach on flexible working, as well as complying with, often exceeding our statutory obligations to provide flexible and part-time working patterns that reflect all stages of the employee life-cycle. We have introduced a happy to talk flexibly approach to recruitment, changed our policies to remove barriers to flexible working and remain committed to considering modifying working practices.

LGBT+

Our Identity+ network, which supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, has over 500 members. Throughout 2019/20, our network has continued to have an active presence across our communities ensuring they attend or sponsor as many north west pride events as possible. This year, we have introduced a new training course for managers delivered by The Proud Trust. The focus of the session is to equip our colleagues, managers and senior leaders with the right tools and information to help them support our LGBT colleagues and contribute to our ethos of an inclusive workplace for all.

Gender pay

The utilities industry is traditionally male-dominated, with the vast majority of jobs requiring STEM skills.

The main driver of our gender pay gap is the shape of our workforce and the challenges faced within our industry when trying to attract and recruit employees.

Overall, 35 per cent of our workforce is female. We have a higher proportion of men in more senior roles within our organisation and more males in STEM skilled trades and higher-paid roles, which contributes to our current gender pay gap. In line with our overall aim to have a workforce that is representative of our region and our customer base, this is an imbalance we are striving to overcome.

We have relatively long-serving employees which, when combined with low employee turnover rates, means the overall composition of our workforce is broadly unchanged from last year. So adjusting our gender balance will take time. We are continuing to undertake initiatives to address our imbalance and make improvements over the next couple of years.

Our gender pay gap figures are shown below. Further details can be found in the full report at unitedutilities.com/corporate/responsibility/employees/diversity/

Median and mean gender pay gap

Median and mean bonus gender pay gap(3)

90.5 per cent of males and 95.9 per cent of females received a bonus payment. Levels are less than 100 per cent as the eligibility criteria requires a minimum level of service to be completed during the bonus year and therefore some new starters may not be eligible.

  1. Source: Office for National Statistics October 2019.
  2. Source: company payroll data for the month of April 2019.
  3. Source: company payroll data, bonus paid in the
    12 months period preceding 30 April 2019.