Encirc Champion Equality Diversity and Inclusion in Manufacturing

Launched in Northern Ireland in 1998, Encirc manufacture over four billion glass containers each year for some of the world’s leading food and beverage brands. In addition to their NI operation in Derrylin, Fermanagh, they have two other sites in England and Italy, and employ over 1,500 people across the business. The company is owned by world-leading glass manufacturer, The Vidrala Group.

Encirc is renowned for leading the way in responsible operations, with sustainability at the heart of the business. The company endeavours to protect natural resources and the environment, minimise wastage and emissions, while promoting safe and ethical working practices. Supporting employees’ learning and development, their health and wellbeing, and instilling the key pillars of honesty, transparency, and equality in team members are core values of the organisation.

Getting Started on the Diversity Mark Accreditation Programme

Fiacre O’Donnell, Director of Sustainability at Vidrala explains why Encirc joined the Diversity Mark accreditation programme and shares some insights on the first steps they’ve taken in their journey.

Fiacre O’Donnell, Director of Sustainability at Vidrala
Fiacre O’Donnell

Encirc needs to be a great place to work for everyone, regardless of their background or demographic. By joining the Diversity Mark accreditation programme in January 2020, we were able to get some valuable guidance on how best to integrate equality, diversity, and inclusive practices into our business.

With the company executive promoting the EDI programme, we were able to push on with our plans to build a progressive workplace. Initially, one of the challenges was to get individuals to put themselves forward for roles in our new Network Committee. We knew early on that we needed to work on our messaging so that everyone fully understands that equality, diversity, and inclusion policies and activities benefit the business, and all employees.  Everyone has an important part to play in making Encirc a great place to work.”

Project 1: Encirc Women’s Network

To progress the plans to develop an internal women’s network which would support and champion gender equality across Encirc, the company advertised the roles and were delighted to see five women in the business step up to form a committee. 

Kate Lynch, Operations Manager at Encirc and Chair of the company’s Women’s Network explained that three projects had been identified by the original committee.  The first of these focused on establishing an internal network to champion gender diversity in the workplace.

Kate Lynch, Operations Manager at Encirc and Chair of the company’s Women’s Network
Kate Lynch

“Manufacturing has an obvious and visible issue with gender diversity, but also a skills shortage.  We’re passionate about seeing more women in manufacturing and developed a series of interviews with female members of our team known as Women with Bottle.” 

The plans included hosting a launch event in December 2020, followed by a cultural survey to explore perceptions, and a series of workshops. The cultural survey has now been completed with employees and the next step is to roll out the workshops to address the issues identified and develop action plans. These sessions will be guided by Stephanie Reid from Business in the Community (BITC) and will be attended by both males and females from across the group. 

The team also organised a virtual conference at the start of March to coincide with International Womens’ Day celebrations, with well-known gender diversity advocate, Michelle King, author of ‘The Fix’ joining as the guest speaker. 

Going forward, the Women’s Network will work closely with the project leads of the additional two schemes in the pipeline to bring those to life.

Project 2: HOCAM

The Encirc HOCAM (Helping Our Communities Achieve More) programme is next on the agenda.  This is an outreach programme to the communities around the business and has been developed in partnership with BITC.

Project 3: More Women in Manufacturing

The third project will focus on Women in Manufacturing, exploring opportunities to attract more females to apply for positions within the company.

Encirc is working closely with Business in the Community (BITC) and Diversity Mark in all of these areas, and although only at the start of their journey, it is going well so far.

Building The Structures for Success

Fiacre and the team feel that to really embed equality, diversity and inclusion principles and activities at every level and location within the organisation, a good structure is required, along with motivated individuals to bring it to life. He adds that those individuals need to receive support from senior members of the company’s management team.  It’s vital to be available to offer support and keep everyone motivated, especially when any negativity is noted.

Fiacre and the newly developed Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion teams recognise that the journey will not be without obstacles and some adversity will be experienced because this programme can be seen as challenging the norm. One of the early learnings has been recognising the need to be careful with the wording used to convey the organisations messages around equality, diversity, and inclusion, to enable employees to recognise that it is not a female only programme.  Gender diversity is just one aspect of a much wider set of values that the organisation subscribes to which make up their overall Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Charter.

Making a Difference

Discussing the value of the programme to the organisation, Helen Rose, Integrated Business Planning Manager at Encirc, and Vice Chair of the Women’s Network is excited about the future positive impact of their equality, diversity, and inclusion projects on Encirc’s people, and the company as a whole.

Helen Rose, Integrated Business Planning Manager at Encirc, and Vice Chair of the Women’s Network
Helen Rose

“Already, I see a real sense of purpose, not only amongst the main network committee but with others close to it.  I see great levels of participation in activities and a shared ambition to create a more inclusive workplace.  These activities are outside of the ‘normal’ duties of everyone’s role and are about self (not just business) development.  It’s very encouraging to see people step up and support the process, and challenge more traditional perceptions and opinions. “

The team at Diversity Mark are excited about continuing to support Encirc on their journey and sharing the progress of the team in the coming months.

Find out more about joining the Diversity Mark Accreditation programme.

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