EASTBOURNE and Willingdon MP Caroline Ansell has received assurance from Southern Water it is undertaking work to employ more women.

Caroline wrote to the utility following a project by Thames Water, which saw female applications rise from just 8% to 46% when it changed the wording of its job advertisements.

Thames switched the wording from masculine phrases like ‘competitive’ and ‘champion’ to more inclusive language around teamwork and wanting to learn.

The MP asked Southern Water if it would do the same and what else the company is doing to encourage more women into the water industry.

In reply, Ian McAulay, Chief Executive Officer, said the company had made progress on diversity but it has more work to do.

It recently hired three women into its executive team and now has a newly-created Diversity and Inclusion lead. In 2019 Southern Water’s median gender pay gap was 2.4%.

“We’re actively looking at our recruitment processes and will be learning from Thames’ experience, as well as best practice across the board,” he said.

“We’ve recently trialled blind CV screening and are capturing more complete candidate data to understand whether our recruitment processes introduce unintentional biases.”

Caroline said: “I was astounded to read how just a small change in language had such a marked effect on women being interested in joining this industry and I am pleased Southern Water will take Thames’ experience onboard.

“It’s vitally important companies in traditionally male dominated sectors do much more to attract the very best recruits regardless of their gender and ethnicity.

“In the 21st century, young girls leaving school need to know that all companies – regardless of their business – are doing all they can to attract them into a career.”