Andron’s employability programme, Inclusive Futures, is a pioneering initiative designed to provide life-changing employment opportunities for people furthest from the job market, including people with a background of homelessness, people with previous convictions and people from marginalised communities.
Employment can be incredibly transformative, and through Inclusive Futures, we aspire to break down many of the barriers people from marginalised communities face, challenge bias within our industry and equip our managers to be changemakers within our organisation and beyond.
Where did the idea come from?
As a company that strives to operate responsibly, we are always on the lookout for ways to create social value and give back to our local communities. The Facilities Management industry provides a wealth of employment opportunities and with the social and economic impact brought on by the pandemic, we looked for ways to help those who were the most vulnerable in a time of crisis and uncertainty.
We first piloted Inclusive Futures early in 2020 in partnership with Scottish charity, Social Bite; a major employer of homeless people. At the time, the charity was facing café closures as a result of the national lockdown. Following discussions, we formed an idea in which we could prevent as much of the detrimental impact as possible, by looking for employment opportunities within Andron for individuals receiving support from Social Bite.
We worked closely with Social Bite to ascertain how we could bring this plan to fruition, looking at the level of support required from both Social Bite and our own operational team. As a result, we were able to recruit and subsequently place, our first employee at a client site in Glasgow in November 2020. And in March the following year, we placed our second Inclusive Futures candidate, again within a client site in Glasgow, in a full-time cleaning role.
“The experience for me has been life changing in that I have moved from long-term unemployment to a
very supportive work environment. Both the staff at Andron and my support worker at Social Bite have been professional and caring in their accommodation of my particular set of circumstances and life experiences.”
– Inclusive Futures Recruit
Following the success of our partnership with Social Bite, the charity has since replicated Inclusive Futures within their own business, creating a programme called “Jobs first” where Andron is acting as the pilot employer. Andron and Social Bite will be working together this year to create more job opportunities, through both Inclusive Futures and Jobs First, in London.
To further expand the reach of Inclusive Futures across the UK, we formed a partnership with Radical Recruit, a recruitment charity that works exclusively with candidates from marginalised communities, and The Recruitment Junction; an agency for ex-offenders.
The impact and next steps
Since its establishment, Inclusive Futures has not been without its challenges, but overall, it has been a huge success, with a total of 10 new personnel joining Andron as a direct result of the programme, three of whom have been employed with Andron for over a year: a heart-warming testament to the success of our programme.
We understand that in order to have a lasting impact on the lives of our candidates, we must have support mechanisms in place to ensure that the transition into employment is one that is smooth and ultimately sustainable. The impact of trauma can mean the workplace is difficult to navigate for candidates and key to its success is the diligence of our charity partners, who have provided the recruits with wrap-around support whilst they transition into employment. Additionally, providing assistance to our managers through the recruitment and integration process.
Furthermore, we provide ‘Anti Bias’ training to all account management staff, designed to develop an in-depth awareness of the different forms of bias and how they perpetuate inequality. The interactive training, which aims to cultivate a more inclusive workplace and drive systemic change, consists of fun workshops, challenges and debates led by experienced facilitators in a safe and supportive environment. Anti Bias training ensures greater understanding between individuals, fosters respect, builds relationships, and strengthens team dynamics.
We know this is merely the beginning of our journey in developing employment opportunities for people from vulnerable backgrounds as we look to expand on the work we have already done, create new partnerships and solidify our existing ones. In doing so, we aim to create a working environment that is much more equal, inclusive and diverse.