OPENREACH has reported a positive change in the number of female recruits joining the company in both field and desk roles in Scotland.

The broadband network – used by customers of hundreds of companies including BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Vodafone – made a decision to put the language it uses to recruit employees under the microscope.

Back in January, work started with Linguistic Landscapes and gender bias expert Dr Chris Begeny from Exeter University, which revealed that women were 50% less likely to consider roles that had a coded gender bias. Since then, significant changes have been made throughout Openreach to the way jobs are advertised, helping drive big improvements in the number of women coming into new roles.

The company is recruiting some 275 people into jobs across Scotland in the current financial year, from the Highlands to the Borders. To date 17% of the intake is female – a statistic that in previous years stood in single digits.

The new recruits are mainly to support the role out of Ultrafast Full Fibre broadband, which has so far reached nearly half a million homes and businesses across the region.

Katie Milligan, chair of Openreach’s Scotland Board, said: “We’re glad to report that the number of women expressing an interest in a career with Openreach in Scotland is on the rise.

“Research into the language barriers that impact female job applicants has shown that it plays a fundamental role in the recruitment process.

“We’d like to see more women choose careers in engineering, particularly here at Openreach, so we’ve been trying to address that.”

Openreach recently published its Diversity and Inclusion Commitments, which include that by 2025, 20% of trainee engineer recruits and 50% of external hires into management will be women.

As levels of ethnic diversity vary across the UK, the company is also setting targets based on regional variations in ethnicity which reflect the local population and, at a minimum, match regional ethnic minority representation.