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High Speed Two (HS2) is Europe’s largest infrastructure project supporting 25,000 jobs during construction, including 2,000 apprenticeships. The high-speed passenger railway will bridge the north-south divide forming the backbone of Britain’s transport network. HS2 is expected to carry around 100 million passengers a year, when fully operational.
HS2’s vision is to be a catalyst for growth across Britain with an ambition to transform the economic shape of the country by bringing our cities closer together, driving regional regeneration, promoting growth and creating opportunities for local, disadvantaged and underrepresented people and companies.
The engineering sector is widely viewed as a traditional one. Established in 2009, HS2 Ltd is seen as a leader in diversity best practice and has set itself and its supply chain ambitious goals on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) – to be best in class and known for being exemplar on EDI. The HS2 Inclusive Procurement Model operates to support this ambition. The model makes EDI central to winning bids, ensuring promises made at the bid stage are kept and regular monitoring is in place to measure progress.
The interviews showed how helpful and empowering the focus on EDI at HS2 was to diversity practitioners. It has led to companies focusing on creating more inclusive workplaces and to be more mindful of their recruitment process.
Our recommendations considered how HS2 could continue to support best practice and empower suppliers on EDI when offering a consultancy service is no longer feasible. Communication will be key moving forward and particularly leveraging the opportunities to share best practice across the sector. For example, campaigns encouraging more women into engineering and science are well publicised and making a difference. There are clear opportunities to raise the visibility of positive work being undertaken within HS2 and its supply chain around the representation of Black, Asian and minority ethnic people and disability.
HS2 has established a great reputation as being exemplar in EDI and built an inclusive procurement model that is making a difference. It can now use this platform to do even more.