Thames Water cuts head of diversity in HR jobs cull

Thames Water’s diversity and inclusion manager has been axed, and the HR department is likely to face further staff cuts, Personnel Today has learned.

Simon Pont, whose appointment last year marked the first role of its type in the utility industry, has been given three months’ notice. The company said his work would be “picked up” by a number of other HR staff.

His departure will place a strain on Thames’ diversity council, a group of senior executives within the company whose remit is to promote and monitor diversity.

Pont had begun a programme of seminars for managers to understand what diversity means in practice, as well as making moves on recruitment advertising targeting black and ethnic minorities.

Last month Thames, the UK’s biggest water firm, announced plans to axe at least 25% of its workforce by 2009. The cuts are part of a business review prior to the sale of the company by German utility parent RWE, which also owns Npower.

Mark Robson, senior HR business partner at Thames Water, told Personnel Today: “All support functions, including HR, are within the scope of the review. The full effect of that review has not been determined in detail, but it is highly likely that there will be fewer roles in HR than currently.”

In addition to Pont’s departure, the entire marketing department has been axed and the staff redeployed within the company. Two employees in internal communications have also been made redundant.

Trade union Unison expressed dismay at the news of Pont’s departure. A spokesman said: “If you want to tackle the skills gap, you’ve got to look at diversity.”


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