“There was a lot of red tape and nervousness when we started to discuss hiring people with convictions," says Leigh Maxfield, Employment & Skills Partner at Thames Water, “and that was an education piece within the business that we needed to do first, but there was willingness to do something different, which is a good start.”
In his role as Employment & Skills Partner at Thames Water, Leigh has made it his mission to educate his colleagues on the benefits of hiring people with convictions, and to making sure that great candidates get great roles regardless of their previous history.
People with convictions have got a lot to offer. As a business, we can’t afford to ignore that talent pool.
“Thames Water has a massive skills shortage coming and there’s a lot of people in the community with convictions. People with convictions have got a lot to offer and we know they’ll stay with us for a lot longer than other candidates might. As a business, we can’t afford to ignore that talent pool.
“We needed to become a more inclusive employer so that people with convictions can access the great opportunities at Thames Water, and Thames Water can access amazing people with diverse skillsets.” explains Leigh.
For any organisation thinking about hiring women with convictions but aren’t sure, I’d say talk with the Working Chance team because they will put all and any fears that you have to bed.
Leigh got in touch with the Working Chance team in December 2021 and in September 2022 their first recruit started work.
“The insight from staff at Working Chance has been amazing. They really know the women and what they want from a job and they really advocate for them. So you get to know a bit about the candidate and that equips you to go back to your employer and make a case for the candidate that puts her character and skillset before her background. That’s really what enabled me to place our first candidate.”
Through our relationship with Working Chance we’ve seen first-hand the value of hiring women with convictions.
Thames Water went above and beyond when they met the client, who came to Working Chance thinking she’d never be able to find a job that met her needs.
“We’ve got a certain mindset and can-do attitude that we’re looking for," says Leigh, “and if you could bottle what we’re trying to do in the business and put it in a person, it would be her."
Leigh was determined to find her a role. Taking all of her requirements into consideration – the hours she could work, her location - he reached out and spoke to one of Thames Water’s supply chain organisations. They didn’t have a vacancy that exactly fit, but they were so keen to hire her, that their Human Resources team worked to split a full-time role into a job share so that they could offer her a job.
It’s opened up conversations about inclusion and diversity and really allowed our workforce to bring their whole selves to work.”
Leigh says, “For our hiring manager, this has really got them to question how they manage people, they’ve become a lot more coaching focused and that benefits the whole team because it’s opened up conversations about inclusion and diversity and really allowed our workforce to bring their whole selves to work.”
He concludes, “Through our relationship with Working Chance we’ve seen first-hand the value of hiring women with convictions. Our mission is to be an inclusive employer and have inclusive employment practices and we want to do this more and more.
“For any organisation thinking about hiring women with convictions but aren’t sure, I’d say have a conversation with a business that’s done this already or talk with the Working Chance team because they will put all and any fears that you have to bed.”