How we're working together to build a fairer, more diverse energy industry
It matters that our industry represents the world we live in. Especially when we know that communities of colour are most impacted by the climate crisis we are working so hard to fight. That’s why we dedicate so much of our time and energy on ensuring that the benefits of renewable energy reach everyone.
As a business, we shy away from any kind of overarching process or siloed roles. There’s no single stream focused on D&I in the company, but over the years, passionate people across our business have organically developed their own projects and initiatives in this space, informally and collectively known as ‘Octopus in Colour’.
I wanted to write about all the impactful things we're doing to help make our industry more diverse and inclusive.
Internships, apprenticeships and work experience
Our internship program is all about giving young adults from black and minority ethnic backgrounds some fantastic opportunities to succeed. We want to open doors for them in the green energy industry, providing hands-on experience, mentorship, and a chance to contribute their unique perspectives to our mission of a sustainable future.
We’ve been running these equality internships since 2020, where we have focused particularly on under-represented groups in energy and tech. (Have a look at our 2021 Ada Lovelace Internship and 2022 Equality internships blogs).
This year we've gone bigger than ever, with 8-week internships across operations, tech, data and energy generation. The internship is aimed to create opportunities for young people from a Black, Black British, African, or Caribbean background. It's all about levelling the playing field and ensuring that everyone has a shot at making a difference in the world of green energy.
We also partner with and support incredible organisations that help get young people from underrepresented backgrounds work experience in tech, engineering and energy. Here are just a few:
- SheCanCode: We have entered into a 12 month partnership with SheCanCode, an organisation on a mission to close the Tech Gender Gap. We help them support women to enter, remain, and excel in the tech industry.
- Student Bootcamps and NMITE Sponsorship: we’re sponsoring young people into tech and engineering bootcamps and University degrees at acclaimed and innovative institutions that are disruptors in their industries. Helping hone the next generation of ethical, innovative green experts is crucial. You can read more on our blog.
- Multiverse Apprenticeships in Tech: a specialised apprenticeship which provides in-depth training, personalised support, and an amazing community for tech enthusiasts. This year we’ll be hiring 3 apprentice software developers from underrepresented communities.
- Kraken Academy: Our scheme for software engineering roles within Kraken Flex. Whilst this isn't exclusively open to women our aim is to encourage more diversity onto the team, providing a first step to young people/ career changers who might struggle to get their foot in the door elsewhere.
Helping the next generation discover careers in energy
The Octopus Energy Equality Foundation (OEEF) is our stand-alone charity dedicated to diversifying the energy industry. Our mission is to use our power for good by focusing on these two objectives:
- To help create a more equal and inclusive society by supporting young black and minority ethnic people to overcome disadvantages and discrimination and help them move into ambitious careers as professionals in the Energy Industry.
- Black and minority ethnic focused charities have been systemically underfunded so we are building close partnerships and providing financial support to sustainable and community-driven charities that support the BAME community locally and internationally.
What do we do:
"The Future of Energy" Workshops: These are our awesome 2-day workshops for BAME students aged 16-19. We want to inspire and empower the next generation of talent in the green energy sector. These workshops provide them with insights, skills, and connections they need to succeed. Read more about our work on our blog.
We also have an amazing Octopus programme called "My Future, My Choice". This is our long term career partnership with a school based in North London. The goal is to educate, support and inspire these students throughout their entire education and eventually provide jobs for them across our group. This involves recruitment days and sessions covering each aspect of building a career in green energy.
Watch our video to get an inside look at the programme:
Supporting grass-roots organisations and charities
Through the Octopus Energy Equality Foundation we have been able to connect and partner with some incredible, grass-roots, community oriented organisations and charities that are making waves in our industry. So far we have built lots of deep and impactful partnerships with organisations like Blueprint for All and Inspire, who are working on making a positive impact for BAME communities. Working together, we aim to create pathways into the energy industry for underrepresented groups, breaking down barriers and fostering inclusivity.
We have also set up our very own grant committee, who are responsible for giving away grants to organisations like Solpowered and teaming up with incredible charities like NYCE and Octopus Giving. We're putting our money where our mouth is, supporting initiatives that align with our commitment to diversity and inclusion in the green energy space.
Recruitment and fostering an inclusive workplace
Our Recruitment and Diversity Team are the superhero squad championing diversity within Octopus. They're the ones who find and support diverse talent.
Our first foundational focus when it comes to inclusivity was to ensure our own offices are a welcoming safe space for people from all backgrounds. To that end, we have upended our recruitment process completely so we can focus on hiring based on merits alone. We rolled out unconscious bias training and we continue to discuss and promote inclusivity and equality for all - it’s an ongoing conversation, deeply ingrained in every element of our process.
Here are a couple more of the initiatives our recruitment team are working on:
- Kraken Ladies: a community of our female developers created to support and develop our female tech leaders into positions of power.
- Sponsoring Black Tech Fest, Reframe Women, Circle Square and the Manchester Tech Festival: We have sponsored these impactful festivals and events in the past, and this year we’re working even more closely with them to support under-represented groups within tech.
Diversity and Inclusion aren’t just training sessions that happen every 6 months; they’re built into the fabric of our company, and prioritised at every turn. Making the world a better place isn’t just a slogan to us, it’s our philosophy. We’re serious about making our workforce diverse and representative. It’s an ongoing effort and the responsibility of any organisation to make a continued effort in this space. Our goal is to create a workplace where everyone feels valued and empowered to shine. It's not just about hiring diverse talent; it's about creating an environment where everyone feels valued and can thrive.
We know that having a variety of ideas, voices and perspectives at the table is essential for success, and we look forward to doing even more in this space.
Come join us as we work towards a brighter, fairer and more inclusive future in the energy sector
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