Gender Game Changers 2019 - Costain

Winner of Business in the Community's Gender Game Changers Award 2019.
Costain set a target to achieve a 50/50 gender balance in its graduate and apprentice recruitment in 2018. The construction and engineering company’s target is to engage 15,000 young people each year through its STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) school engagement programmes. It set up a youth engagement programme to meet these aims. In 2017, it exceeded this target by 11% and, by October 2018, with three months to go, it has exceeded its target by 26%.

In 2016 Costain partnered with the online career platform U-Explore, creating an interactive careers facility that provides advice to 13-19 year olds. During this period the U-Explore survey data showed young women’s attitude to Costain’s job roles and careers improved, with a 14% increase in likes across all profiled roles.

Costain significantly increased its school and college engagements, specifically using its female STEM ambassadors to act as role models. Apprentice engagement is managed locally with a preference to reach out to local schools, in order to provide work experience, careers advice and enterprise days.

Costain advertises its graduate opportunities via Debute, a graduate recruitment app. It promoted this within its feeder universities. The company increased the number of feeder universities that it has relationships with, selecting institutions that demonstrate more diverse student populations.

The company runs its own careers events, targeting interested candidates who can apply to attend. It also runs female-only events, for example, Future Female Talent is an invite-only gathering aimed at final-year under-graduates who expressed an interest at graduate vacancies or career events in working for Costain. This is an opportunity for them to meet women from across the company - from apprentices and graduates to board members.

Costain removed grade requirements from its applications and opened the programme to non-traditional degree subjects to improve the pool for talent. Costain de-personalised CVs to prevent potential unconscious biases.

A network of female STEM ambassadors, who act as role models to inspire young people into the industry, is used by Costain. This network has sponsored female employees to take part in a Big Sister mentoring programme, led by the social enterprise, Girls Out Loud.

  • Despite numerous reports showing a lack of young women pursuing STEM further education, Costain’s interventions have helped to generate a 69% increase in females securing graduate and apprentice roles within the company in the past two years.
  • The organisation’s most recent careers event was over-subscribed by 30%, while 60 young people attended the most recent Future Female Talent event at the London Transport Museum. Of those attending, 30% applied for graduate positions and 44% were successful.
  • In 2018, 53% of graduate recruits were female, 30% of which BAME. This demonstrates a significant increase in female graduates when compared with the 2016 intake, where 10% were female and 14% BAME.
  • In 2017, Costain engaged with 167 schools - a 61% year-on-year increase - reaching more than 16,000 young people.
  • In 2017, 745 days of work experience were completed.
  • The 2018 apprentice intake was, for the first time ever, made up of 50% women - increasing from 38% in 2015. Also, 52% of the company’s early-year recruits were female.
The information in this impact story has been supplied by Costain.