Chief of country’s biggest housebuilder says workforce needs to be more diverse

The chief executive of Barratt has said it must employ more women and it was right the housebuilder was held to account for the diversity of its board by shareholders.

David Thomas, writing exclusively for Building’s sister’s title Housing Today, said: “If the building industry is going to grow and play its part in supporting the economy, then it has to have a more diverse workforce.

“Put simply, we know we want the best talent to join our industry and that talent is diverse, coming from all backgrounds and demographics. We want an inclusive culture where everyone can thrive and to do that we have to continue to change the ways we do things, change the way we behave as an organisation and as an industry.”

David THomas on site - Southern Counties 2a

Chief executive David Thomas (centre) said its workforce needed to be more diverse

The comments follow a protest from shareholders last month after the proportion of female board members at Barratt fell to a third following the departure of marketer Nina Bibby from the board last December. This left a board with three women out of nine members, or 33%, below the 40% recommended by the government-backed Hampton Alexander Review.

Barratt has since hired Jasi Halai, chief operating officer at investor 3i Group. She will join Barratt’s board in January, pushing the firm’s female board representation to 40%.

Thomas added: “We recognise that we must employ more women right across the business and we are rightly being held to account on our performance and record by our stakeholders”

>> Read the full op-ed from David Thomas here

Thomas said Barratt has a diversity and inclusion strategy which includes “talent programmes, employee networks, succession planning, early careers and mentoring”.

He added that Barratt will voluntarily report its ethnicity pay gap next April. “We believe if things get measured then any gaps can be reduced. Without knowing your own figures how can you improve?