Heathrow scoops 2018 Diversity and Inclusion Award, as new strategy sees rise in female and BAME background hires

By Chris Loy

Published 21st December 2018

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Heathrow has won Best Diversity and Inclusion Strategy at the 2018 In-House Recruitment Awards in recognition of the improvements made to its Emerging Talent Programme recruitment processes. As a result of the improvements, Heathrow significantly increased both the number of female and BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) background applicants as well as successful candidates on the airport’s early careers programmes.

The airport’s in-house People function (equivalent to Human Resources) has a bold diversity target for the airport’s leadership teams of the future – that they will represent the diversity of our local community at every level by 2025. As some of the airport’s Future Leaders, early career intakes are vital to help Heathrow grow the diversity of its future workforce and leadership roles.

Female hires rises by 82%, while BAME hires increase by 133%

As a result of the new improvements, applications for the 2018 Emerging Talent Programmes (from females) rose to 48% for future leaders and 43% of interns. Significantly, Heathrow’s Engineering Future Leaders Programme also attracted 19% female applicants, compared to an industry average of 11% (ISE, 2018).

Across the 34 successful hires for our entire 2018 Programme intakes, the results were:

  • Future Leaders Programme: 16 Graduates
    • The cohort is 69% female, against an industry average of 42.9%. This figure is significantly higher than our present Heathrow workforce and represents a 175% increase on the previous year’s intake.
    • The cohort is 31% BAME, against an average of 19.6% – a 150% increase on our previous cohort.
  • Engineering Future Leaders: 4 Graduates
    • The cohort is 50% female – against an average of 31.2%.
    • The cohort is 75% BAME. Having not hired any BAME candidates the previous year, this was an important result that was 268% of the industry average (20.4%).
  • Internships: 14 Interns
    • Our interns were 50% female and 43% BAME. The internship acts as an important feeder programme into specialist roles and our graduate streams.

So what are the new attractions and hiring methods being used?

Heathrow has put in place a number of new processes to help improve unconscious bias in the hiring process and create an immersive and inclusive process.

These have included:

  • A transition from ‘rolling’ to ‘block’ recruitment, to allow all candidates equal opportunities when applying. We had demonstrated that female and BAME candidates tend to apply later onin the process
  • Changing our psychometric testing from traditional online testing to a game-based mobile assessment that is considerably more immersive and inclusive
  • The introduction of blind-screening at every level; withholding personal details from assessors including name, gender, home address and ethnicity. This ensured an inclusive process and reduced unconscious bias towards candidates, allowing us to assess them solely on their potential.
  • Focusing on improving candidate engagement – leading to a 62% reduction in candidate withdrawals through building an immersive and engaging process

Heathrow also has in place four diversity networks for colleagues, which focus on gender, sexuality, disability and ethnicity – giving all colleagues a platform to support each other.


Find out more about the Heathrow Jobs & Careers Fair taking place on 28 February 2019…


More about the Heathrow Emerging Talent Programmes

Heathrow’s Emerging Talent Programmes encompass a wide array of career opportunities with the aim of identifying candidates with intellectual, leadership and emotional-intelligence potential and developing their leadership techniques on their programmes.

The programmes that Heathrow offer are:

  • Future Leaders Programme
  • Finance and Procurement Future Leaders Programme
  • Engineering Future LeadersProgramme
  • Engineering Apprenticeships
  • Internships
  • Work Experience

Heathrow announces settled status for EU nationals and London Living Wage Roadmap

In another positive move for careers at Heathrow, the airport recently announced it will pay to achieve ‘settled status’ for EU colleagues, directly employed by Heathrow. Recognising the integral role Heathrow’s colleagues have played in welcoming over 80 million passengers in the last year alone, the move came as the airport wanted to demonstrate how valued their colleagues are and provide reassurance in unsettling times.

IMAGE | Quote from Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye, "Heathrow is an international business and we need a workforce that reflects this. It is critical for us to have diverse, happy and valued colleagues. Many of our people are worried about Brexit and this move will provide reassurance and certainty."

The new ‘Settled Status’ will allow EU nationals to remain in the UK after 2020, and Heathrow has agreed to cover all costs of the application process.

Heathrow also recently launched a Living Wage roadmap to ensure all colleagues are guaranteed the Living Wage by 2020.

As a result, new suppliers and contracts to supply Heathrow from December 2018 will be required to pay Living Wage and not use zero-hour contracts at the airport, safeguarding thousands of new job roles with expansion.

The news follows Heathrow’s Living Wage Accreditation in 2017 which has ensured the London Living Wage is paid to all direct employed colleagues. Heathrow was the first ever airport accredited with Living Wage foundation status.

Interested in a Career at Heathrow? Visit our new Careers website at careers.heathrow.com.

By Chris Loy

Published 21st December 2018