Companies hoping to win contracts with HS2 have this week been warned that it will be impossible to do so without improving their organisation’s record for diversity and inclusion.
The message was sent by Mark Lomas, head of equality, diversity and inclusion at HS2, talking at Railtex 2017 in Birmingham about the organisation’s commitment to diversifying its workforce, as well as the workforces of the wider supply chain working on the project.
During his speech, Lomas emphasised why diversity was important to allow the industry to change and adapt going into the future.
“HS2 is a long-term programme that enables us to make long-term change and if we look critically at the rail sector it has been one of the worst at adapting to change – it’s 20 years behind and we need to hurry up and fix it,” he said.
“And HS2 is going to be one of the catalysts that moves the industry forward at a very fast pace.”
He also explained how HS2 had made efforts to improve the equality, diversity and inclusion, or EDI, of the company’s recruiting process.
By using blind auditioning, which takes only the core competence of a candidate before looking at a their CV, HS2 was able to improve the number of women, BME and disabled applicants getting through to the next round of interviews.
Lomas also said this applied to companies in HS2’s supply chain, adding that it would be close to impossible for them to win a contract with the company without showing how they were making efforts to up EDI in their organisation.
“Here’s a clear message to those hard-edged business people,” he stated. “You cannot win a contract with HS2 without improving your performance in this area. It’s just not possible.”
Improvement for companies, Lomas stated, included them showing they had websites that were accessible for visually impaired people, using blind auditioning and making sure that 100% of people in their company had training in EDI relative to their role.
“We also expect you to tell us how much money you are spending with diverse suppliers and SMEs, and tier one organisations will have to achieve an externally accredited EDI standard, which will make our supply chain a world first,” Lomas continued.
“We expect our supply chain to remove barriers to inclusion to capacity build and widen access, and we will help anyone that is trying to change and innovate.”