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Diversity Champion of the Year finalist: Interserve

Interserve was the first UK contractor to achieve Investors in Diversity accreditation from the National Centre for Diversity in 2011 and was reassessed to reach Stage 2 status in July 2014.

The contractor has introduced ‘Diversity Champions’ who play a central role in disseminating good practice and encouraging the promotion of equality within the business, meeting quarterly to take forward the company’s action plan.

There are currently around 20 of these champions, who are given training to support them in serving as role models for the business and as the first point of contact for any staff queries relating to diversity and equality.

Managing director Ian Renhard sponsors diversity at board level, with the company’s values revolving around its people and ensuring that all employees are included.

He is now undertaking the accreditation for Leaders in Diversity in order to do more at senior management level, which is the first step on the road to Investors in Diversity Stage 3.

The firm offers a six-month coaching programme for female employees to identify high-potential talent, understand their development needs and provide support to enable them to further their careers.

It has also set up an online diversity training course which has been taken by more than 1,500 employees so far, with unconscious bias training also given to all new starters as a matter of course.

“Interserve offers a six-month coaching programme for female employees to identify high-potential talent, understand their development needs and provide support to enable them to further their careers”

The company has established its Women in Interserve Network, which holds regular events and aims to promote equal opportunities for all employees. These polices are having an impact, with its female graduate numbers rising from 13.6 per cent of the cohort to 21 per cent.

This year it has begun delivering autism awareness training and mental health awareness training.

The story of one employee, Arran Linton-Smith, a senior consultant and diversity champion who was diagnosed as autistic four years ago, demonstrates how Interserve’s diversity policies and culture have helped make a difference to its employees.

After discussion with his managers, he decided to be open about his condition – and Interserve’s positive environment helped transform his working life from an unhappy one into a position where he feels respected and valued.

He has since gone on to break the world record for having the most brand logos on a single piece of sports clothing during the RideLondon event last year, raising money for the National Autistic Society, with Interserve sponsoring a new Nottingham branch of the NAS as well.

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