Following her nomination as the new Chair for our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) steering group, we spoke with Jennifer McNamee, Senior Group Property Solicitor, about the importance of EDI and the steps we are taking at Henry Boot to initiate discussions and drive positive change.



Jennifer McNamee 


"Diversity and inclusion has always been a topic I have felt passionate about. As a solicitor at DLA Piper, I led on the work the firm was doing to engage and be accessible for the LGBTQ+ community which I found deeply rewarding and insightful.
Henry Boot launched an EDI Strategy in 2021 and this was further strengthened by a series of diversity targets in the Responsible Business Strategy published a year later.

I have been really pleased to see the commitments the business has made and the positive steps forward made in recent years. There is, however, plenty of work left to do to ensure our business and wider industry are accessible and inclusive to a diverse range of people.

I had the privilege of Chairing our Group Employee Forum and learnt many lessons about what motivates and engages our people and partners. I was recently delighted to be nominated to Chair our EDI Steering Group and started this position earlier this year.

The Steering Group is made up of of subject matter experts, subsidiary representatives, and passionate volunteers from our workforce. It is our job to oversee delivery of our EDI commitments and engage our people to evolve our culture as we aspire to be more diverse and inclusive.

This is a challenge for any company in the built environment which has traditionally struggled to attract and retain a diverse workforce.

This is a really pertinent issue for our sector. We are placemakers and deliver new community spaces across the UK. These places are for everyone and surely, therefore, the communities we serve should feel represented in our businesses and the work we do.

There is also plenty of evidence that diverse teams make better decisions and return better results. Diversity of characteristics, background, and experience means decisions are made with multiple viewpoints and are more robust as a result.

Whilst we recognise that achieving diversity is a long term goal, we are also committed to acting decisively in the short term. Henry Boot has already made good strides to improve gender diversity and, with further focus on data across all areas of the business, this important work will continue. We are also preparing to roll out further targets and initiatives on additional characteristics. Using updated people data, we will identify where we can create impact and tackle barriers to our industry.

Our employee networks (now covering a range of areas including gender, female and mental health, neurodiversity, caring responsibilities and sexuality) will be integral to capturing authentic lived experiences and engaging our people and leaders to change perceptions and encourage change. Making diversity everyone's business through engagement, training, and access to guidance, will ensure that this change is achieved as a collective.

As this is an industry issue, it is also right that we collaborate with partners to share knowledge and create solutions. We want to work as a team with our customers, advisers, supply chain, and membership bodies to really drive positive change.

There is plenty of work to do, and challenges to overcome, but I am confident in our ability to make sure that Henry Boot is a company that represents our communities and enjoys a welcoming and inclusive culture that all can benefit from."