Date

27th March

Audience

Domestic customers

Engagement

45

OBJECTIVES

The morning session focused on NGN’s workforce and explored three key points:

  • What does good look like? How would our customers know that we’re a company that embraces D&I – what would they see?​
  • ​What should we be doing to address the issues/problems outlined?
  • Should we report on it? How often? What kinds of things do you want us to report on?

The afternoon session looked at Inclusion and how we engage with customers and stakeholders. The afternoon objectives were to understand:

  • What are the key principles of engaging in a diverse and inclusive way, from our customers’ perspective​
  • Why would some people be ‘hard to reach’? What additional engagement inclusion issues might arise from Covid-19?​
  • What are the things that we can do to help them overcome those barriers?​
  • How big a problem our customers think digital inclusivity is, who it affects and the things we should be doing to address it?​
  • What are people’s preferences for engagement in the future?
Your comments & our responses

100%

of Panel members said that they wanted to continue their involvement with the Citizens Panel into 2021/22

Members were generally very positive about NGN’s diversity and inclusion vision statement. They did however suggest changing the wording to reflect ‘outputs’ to ‘outcomes’ and emphasis that our journey to become an inclusive company must be considered to be an ongoing one.

We will use this feedback to amend our vision and strategy, incorporating softer language. In the introduction of our inclusion and belonging statement, we acknowledge whilst we have began taking active steps, we’re at the beginning of this journey, and know that we have far to go. We will continue to reiterate this messaging.

Members were supportive of the idea that NGN should proactively publish all of the equalities information it has access to in order to demonstrate its commitment to being an inclusive company. Two thirds of our panel members said they wanted us to go beyond our gender pay gap report and be more transparent on aspects of workforce diversity and inclusion

We report on our Gender Pay Gap each year, but  at present we don’t feel our data is high enough quality to be able to allow us to meaningfully report on a broader range of protected characteristics (such as age, sexual orientation, marriage, and others which are protected by the Equality Act). This has highlighted the need to gather more data to understand the make-up of the business.

As a compromise, we’ve published our first Inclusion and Belonging Annual Report. While it is qualitative in nature, the report sets out what we’ve achieved this year and our focus for the following twelve months. As our data and approach matures, the Report will add a more quantitative view.

There was an appetite to understand the reasons for disparities, particularly in relation to the pay gap and differences in representation at management levels

We recognise that we are at the start of this journey and there is still plenty to be achieved. In the short term there are some key pieces of work which will help us achieve a truly inclusive workplace where all employees feel they belong:

We’ll continue to work with the Equal Group to gather data about our workforce which will help us to identify key areas to focus on when creating our strategy and associated objectives

We’ve also set up a series of new ‘colleague communities’ who will inform and drive forward the work programme of our Inclusion working group. Chosen by our workforce, the communities (LGBTQ+, Women, Men’s health, disability and parents/ carers) will help us understand the reasons for disparities and the blockers for different communities. By developing specific projects and policies on an enduring basis our communities will help to drive meaningful change within the business.

85% of Panel members voted individually that it was important, to them as a customer, that NGN ensured that it engages with a diverse cross-section of the community when developing their strategic plans

Last year we introduced our Hard-to-Reach Framework setting out how we engage address the key drivers of engagement isolation to ensure we are able to engage with wide range of customers and listen to a broad spectrum of voices

With the onset of Covid-19 we recognise more customers are falling into hard-to-reach categories for a range of technological and social reasons. Consequently we’ve reviewed our Hard-to-Reach Framework. We recognise digital exclusion and social disadvantage are intrinsically linked, so have changed our technology commitments to specifically address digital exclusion barriers, ensuring all our engagement is as inclusive as possible and we are  giving opportunities for stakeholders and customers to engage in the way they want and for relationships to grow and build over time

Nearly 50% of our panel members voted that they believed Digital Exclusion was ‘big’ or ‘very big’ issue for NGN when engaging with their customers.  For the majority, the reasons related to either cost or capabilities (particularly for older and more vulnerable customers)

 

We identified several solutions that have helped us continue our conversations with all aspects of our communities through online engagement including providing access to an appropriate device or the internet through loaned equipment and dongles. Where practical and possible we ensure engagement events are accessible by a variety of devices, including telephone. We also provide participants without suitable IT hardware, the gift (or loan) of a device or tablet that can access the internet or a webcam so they can interact with the online platforms we use, as well as dongles or pre-paid sim cards.  To further support this, we also offer specialist training and 121 technical support for all participants during engagement events.

Members reflected on the last few months of the Citizens’ Jury and a move to online engagement. All participating members said that they wanted to continue their involvement with the Citizens Panel into 2021/22 and stated they would prefer a move to face to face meetings when Covid-19 restrictions permitted.

We have committed to an enduring role for our Citizen’s Jury over the next five years.

We are really keen to return to a face-to-face engagement mechanism for our next meeting and will work with our Jury members to understand the measures we need to take to make it accessible, safe and enjoyable for all our members.

In discussing the future work programme of the Jury, four of the top five ranked topics all related to aspects of the environment, climate change or energy transitions, suggesting this is a key priority for members overall.

We will use this information to inform and shape our future engagement programme with the Citizens’ Jury to ensure we are engaging with them on the right things, at the right time.

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