How we want to #InspireInclusion this International Women’s Day and beyond


This year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) theme is ‘Inspire Inclusion’ and it’s something that we’re committed to at the Highbourne Group and throughout our brands. 

As the organisation behind IWD explains on its website: “When women themselves are inspired to be included, there's a sense of belonging, relevance, and empowerment.”

In order to attract more women and see more diversity in sectors like construction, we need to highlight and celebrate all the different role models in our industry. Across all of our content and channels, whether that’s our website or social media, we always aim to reflect our diverse workforce.  We know that representation matters, which is why for this year’s IWD, we’ve created a video series ‘Women in Plumbing and Heating’, where both female customers and women across our business share their stories, experiences and successes. 

These videos will be rolled out on LinkedIn and our other channels, showcasing women in roles as varied as branch managers, plumbers, sales directors and marketing managers. 

Inspiring Inclusion at Highbourne Group

But we know that to make a genuine impact and inspire more women to join the industry – whether that’s in our branches, research and innovation departments, digital roles, logistics, operations, sustainability or working as a tradesperson – we need to make sure that we are continuously striving to #InspireInclusion. That’s why at the Highbourne Group and our brands, we’ve set an ambition and take action to be more inclusive.

Better representation in our workforce

For example, today women make up 20% of our workforce. We will continue to review and reflect on this, and improve our policies, recruitment and working environments to enable a fair and gender-neutral culture. By doing this, we hope to continue to increase the percentage of female employees.

More flexible hours

We’ve recognised that our previously-fixed full time working contracts weren’t giving enough flexibility for our colleagues, and for our business and customers needs. To remedy this, we’ve introduced flexible contracts starting from 16 hours with the aim of reaching a bigger talent pool, including more women, who are often the primary caregivers. We also offer hybrid working roles to promote further flexibility where we can. We recognise that the way our customers choose to interact with us is changing, and greater choice in hours in operation is of benefit to all.

Enhanced maternity policy

In addition, we also stand by our commitment to an enhanced maternity policy, with 26 weeks full pay, followed by 13 weeks of statutory pay. We want to attract all talent into the business, as well as ease any financial pressures around starting a family.


We have set up champions of inclusion, in working groups called Changemakers to advance and take action on topics that impact colleagues across the board. Team members volunteer to be part of these groups such as Hot Stuff, our menopause group, and act as a safe community where issues can be discussed and where these groups can drive engagement, understanding and change.

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What more can we do?

Historically there has been a misconception that trade jobs or careers in construction are reserved for men. We disagree, and aim to get rid of this perception, and we do this by representing the women already working in the industry, as well as the benefits on offer for future generations. 

Last year the plumbing, heating and air conditioning installation industry was worth more than £21.5bn, making it a buoyant sector to work in. The flexibility coupled with market growth (8% last year alone) presents opportunities for people looking to enter into the industry and to develop their careers or grow their businesses. The future of the industry is positive, with rapid change and drive towards renewables and net zero, and increased digital capabilities to benefit the customer of today and tomorrow. 

While we have made a series of changes to our business in the hope that everyone feels appropriately represented and supported in their roles, there is always more that we, the industry and wider society can be doing.  To further champion this, we have joined the Construction Industry Coalition (CIC) as a leading and founding member, which has been created to improve equity, diversity and inclusion across the construction sector. Together, the CIC aims to foster collaboration, establish a network to share knowledge and resources across the industry, and co-create solutions to make a difference.

For more information about the CIC visit: