The world’s largest wind farm located off England’s North East coast, Dogger Bank Wind Farm, will have the capacity to power up to 6 million homes each year. For operators Equinor, one of the key focuses for the project was to drive inclusion, working with NRL to develop a diversity strategy to attract a wider candidate pool to the renewable energy sector.
Understanding the current landscape
For Equinor, the way they deliver is as important as what they deliver – motivated by an ambition to turn natural resources into energy for people and progress for society. This was of crucial importance to them when it came to championing diversity and inclusion across their engineering operations.
Working within the offshore wind industry, leading the way with projects such as Dogger Bank Wind Farm, also meant that there were expectations in place within the strategic sector in which they operate. The UK Offshore Wind Diversity & Inclusion Best Practice Guide, developed by The Equal Group on behalf of the Office Wind Sector Deal group, sets sector targets of 40% female and 9% BAME participation. These measures were welcomed by Equinor, as they aligned with their own business aspirations to encourage more diverse applications and drive inclusion.
The challenge was attracting this diverse talent pool into the offshore wind industry - still a relatively new sector - but with so much opportunity for people from all walks of life to build a successful renewable energy career.
The existing skills within the market however were very limited, and a deep dive into the database only identified 1 female in 202 candidates. It was a similar picture when searching external resources for female candidates and looking at local university engineering cohorts. This pattern was replicated when looking at BAME representation.
Driving diversity and inclusion
Keen to work with a trusted recruitment partner who shared an interest in diversity, the team at Equinor embarked on a partnership with NRL’s North East Recruitment team to assist on the Dogger Bank project. NRL were tasked with drawing up a diverse shortlist of candidates to interview for key positions at their operations and maintenance base on the Port of Tyne, individuals who would go on to play an important part of the wind farm development.
It was clear that NRL had to think differently, because access to suitable talent wasn’t available within the market. Central to this was the development of a dedicated recruitment strategy, looking at a range of ideas to cast the net wider. This included working with existing partnerships and associations NRL had already established, such as working with the Career Transition Partnership as a signatory of the Armed Forces Covenant. As well tying into connections built with the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), Newcastle University and the University of Sunderland.
To support recruitment a multi-channel marketing campaign was initiated, aimed at attracting a wide range of candidates and highlighting the fantastic culture and career opportunities at Equinor through an Employer Value Proposition.
Central to this recruitment activity was the identification of transferable skills. NRL’s recruitment team were able to recognise candidates from other sectors who had complementary skills that could be put to work. As well as working with Equinor to determine roles that could be repositioned, to allow entry requirements to become much broader knowing that additional training and support could be given to the right candidate.
Other practical activities included local outreach to talk directly to diverse talent pools – such as working with Newcastle University to host an open day event to chat with students and help raise awareness of the diverse opportunities available to work with industry leaders such as Equinor.
Together this concentrated activity helped attract people who hadn’t previously considered working in the offshore wind sector, or who had felt the roles weren’t typically accessible to them.
Welcoming new talent to offshore wind
The overall goal was to improve representation for CV submissions, using the offshore wind sector’s diversity and inclusion best practice guidance as a marker, and placing suitable female and BAME candidates into Equinor’s roles.
This included the recruitment of control room operators, as well as roles such as a Senior Transmission Engineer and Planner.
Across the vacancies supported, female submissions accounted for 45% of the candidates – ahead of the 40% target set by the sector group. Similarly, BAME candidates represented 13% of CV submissions.
This impact was mirrored when diversity was assessed on a case-by-case basis for individual job roles – with the Planner role in particular resulting in 60% female candidates and 40% BAME representation.
More crucially however, these inclusive candidate shortlists converted into several diverse hires – 33% of hires were women. After some targeted work to attract armed force veterans into the sector, 17% of placed candidate were also from ex-forces backgrounds.
From a brand awareness perspective, NRL was able to raise the profile of diversity within Equinor and ensure the local candidate market understood the value the organisation placed on welcoming an inclusion workforce.
At a critical time for the North East’s offshore wind sector as it looks to extend its size and scale in the coming years, the diversity strategy helped position Equinor as a leading local employer. The North East is a focus area for the UK Government’s net zero plans, with Equinor’s Dogger Bank Wind Farm playing a key role in regenerating and boosting the local economy.
“At Equinor, our vision is to shape the future of energy by turning natural resources into energy for people and progress for society, so embracing diversity and a variety of perspectives is an absolutely critical enabler to this. NRL share our ambitions to challenge inclusion within the UK offshore wind sector, and attract and recruit from a diverse candidate pool so we as a business can benefit from their competence, contribution, ideas and viewpoints.
NRL understood what we were trying to achieve and acted as brand ambassador when it came to discussing the careers at Equinor with prospective candidates. We’re extremely pleased with the results so far. We understand the potential of ongoing collaboration across all parts of the industry with organisations such as NRL, and what it enables in terms of opportunities to level the playing field.”
Mark Halliday, Operations Director, Equinor
“We were delighted to work with Equinor to support their diversity and inclusion ambitions – because it’s something we’re extremely passionate about at NRL.
We’ve long been an advocate of the need to attract a wide range of people to the engineering sector, so were pleased to be able to work with Equinor to develop a diversity strategy and embark on a number of different recruitment practices and marketing tactics to raise their profile as an inclusive employer.
With continued growth projected for the offshore wind sector in the coming years, it provides a great career path for people looking for a rewarding career. It’s an absolute pleasure to work with people from all walks of life to help them see this.”
Emma Lowden, Regional Director, NRL
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