Women in the Midlands water industry




Country: Midlands & Wales, UK

What did this project achieve?

Develop a workforce that reflects all the communities served by Severn Trent

Water company Severn Trent believes it has one of the most gender representative management teams in the water industry – nearly a third of the senior leadership team are women.

The company points to its CEO Liv Garfield and commercial director Helen Miles as key roles that have gone to women in recent years. Many other senior roles – including business leads – have also been filled by women.

"I've always tried to encourage people and particularly young women to think differently and to challenge the status quo," says strategic lead non-infrastructure Jane Simpson. "I'm really proud to see the growing number of women we now have in key roles across Severn Trent."

Severn Trent says it employs women at all levels of the business. Programme engineer Hannah Black agrees the company has a good working environment for women.

"I know that my gender will never be a barrier for me in the water industry," she says. "Having female leaders at every level of our business inspired me to follow my chosen career paths.

"Water underpins every part of our day-to-day lives," she adds. "As society changes our business needs to change too. A key part of this is having a workforce that truly reflects the communities we serve."

Difference this approach has made

Severn Trent has made it a priority to employ more women as operational leaders and engineers – as well as boosting the number of people from ethnic minorities that work for the company.

The company believes considerable progress has been made in both these areas with its board and management structure reflecting the goals.

CEO Liv Garfield has been in post since 2014. Other women in key management roles include Jane Simpson (strategic lead non-infrastructure), Vicky Robinson (strategic lead infrastructure) and director of wholesale Emma Fitzgerald.

How the work is being done

The Severn Trent management team is currently overseeing work on the Birmingham Resilience Project (BRP), one of the company's largest ever investment programmes.

This is a new back-up water supply for Birmingham and surrounding areas.

Victorian engineers built the 73 mile Elan Valley aqueduct to carry water from the Elan reservoirs in Wales to Birmingham. After more than a century in use the aqueduct needs to be taken 'offline' for extended periods of maintenance.

The BRP is developing a new alternative water supply from the river Severn, just north of Stourport on Severn.

The project has seen engineers laying a new 25km pipeline from the river at Lickhill to the treatment works at Frankley, near Birmingham.

The new supply will allow water to keep flowing into Birmingham homes while maintenance work is carried out on the 112-year-old aqueduct.


With 66% of our new graduates and a quarter of apprentices being female it's really important that we have strong and talented female role models in the water industry.

Jane Simpson

Strategic lead non-infrastructure, Severn Trent Water

Fascinating facts

Severn Trent provides water and wastewater services to 4.5 million people across the Midlands and Wales.

Women at the company make up 44% of the management board, 60% of the executive committee and 27% of the senior leadership team.

Four Severn Trent executives have made the Cranfield School of Management '100 Women to Watch' list since 2014.

People who made it happen

  • Severn Trent chief executive Liv Garfield
  • Severn Trent director of wholesale Emma Fitzgerald
  • Other senior women in the organisation include chief customer officer Sarah Bentley and company secretary Bronagh Kennedy

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