Creating an inclusive culture: Sharna Matson, D&I Manager

working for us

Sharna Matson is Cadent’s Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Manager, and has been leading a series of activities to support National Inclusion Week 2020. Sharna discusses Cadent’s involvement in the Energy & Utility Skills Inclusion Commitment, and how this fits into our wider D&I plans.

We know that within the Energy and Utilities sector, we have historical challenges to inspire and attract diverse talent with the skills that we need to keep the energy flowing to customers across the UK. But that shouldn’t, and doesn’t, stop us from driving change to create greater levels of diversity and inclusion.

Our sector is not yet representative of the UK workforce, or the communities we serve in terms of gender, those that identify as Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic, people with disabilities, and under 24s. At Cadent we’ve seen great strides in our ability to support diverse groups and communities, including our recognition as a Disability Confident Employer – but we know we still have a long way to go.

The Inclusion Commitment is a great example of our sector collaborating to proactively change the demographic of our workforces. All organisations involved have committed to highlighting and sharing the great work already being done across the sector, as well as continuing to drive change through inclusive attraction, recruitment, and people development. 

This is a core component of our Diversity and Inclusion strategy at Cadent. We are challenging social stereotypes, together with our partners, to create a sector that is inclusive for everyone and inspires the next generation of diverse talent. 

Our objective is to create a culture where all of our people are valued for their uniqueness and have a sense of belonging. We know that highly motivated, diverse and engaged individuals and teams will enable greater innovation, creating impactful solutions to meet our customers’ needs. Our vision is to set standards all customers love and others aspire to – and to achieve this, it really is critical that we have a culture where everyone feels included. 

Our progress this year

We started the year by defining our D&I strategy in line with what our challenges were, where our opportunities lay, and what mattered most to our colleagues. Working closely with colleagues in HR, communications and across the organisation, we have been able to shape and start embedding our vision.

Since then, we have established four employee communities to represent different strands of diversity and empower colleagues to actively shape a more inclusive environment. We also now have a Diversity and Inclusion Steering Group and Working Group, and we have appointed our Women’s Engineering Society (WES) Ambassadors.

I’ve enjoyed seeing so many people engaging with us by sharing their lived experiences and contributing ideas – and the early results are encouraging. We’ve already seen a 3% increase in our total number of female employees, with 40% of our Executive Team now female.

I’ve seen so much progress in the 10 months I’ve been in this role, and I am proud of what we have collectively achieved. When you throw the COVID-19 pandemic into the mix, it’s a credit to everyone in the organisation that we have stayed connected to support one another like never before.  

What the future holds…

This week we launched a campaign in support of National Inclusion Week 2020, with our communications team, all four of our Employee Communities, Steering and Working Group colleagues coming together to make inclusion real for so many of our colleagues. We’ve shared personal stories internally and across social media, and hosted two live webinars with employees to discuss career progression and language and intersectionality.

I’m excited to continue weaving D&I into everything that we do, taking what we are doing to the next level in our people practices. Our employee communities continue to grow, driving meaningful conversation and respectful debate to make us a more inclusive employer. 

I also can’t wait to build on the fantastic work we’ve done in recruitment to be more diverse and inclusive, challenging our unconscious biases on how we recruit and develop talent. We will continue to adapt to the new normal of COVID-19 and ensure our flexible working offering delivers for all. My vision is that we will be a thought leader on matters of inclusion.

I’d like to finish by sharing, as so many of my colleagues have done this week, what makes me feel included at work:

I never feel alone, and I am empowered to drive the change that I am so passionate about. 


Cadent is the UK’s largest gas distribution network with a 200-year legacy.  We are in a unique position to build on strong foundations whilst encouraging the curiosity to think differently and the courage to embrace change.  Day to day we continue to operate, maintain and innovate the UK’s largest gas network, transporting gas safely and protecting people in an emergency.   Our skilled engineers and specialists remain committed to the communities we serve, working day and night to ensure gas reaches 11 million homes from Cumbria to North London and the Welsh Borders to East Anglia, to keep your energy flowing. 

Future of Gas: Here at Cadent we support the Government’s plans to reach Net Zero by 2050. That means we’re backing the introduction of hydrogen as a low carbon alternative to natural gas for the future. We know people love the controllability of gas and, with our network already in place, it makes sense to switch to the lower carbon alternative offered by hydrogen, which we believe can keep homes and businesses warm for generations to come.

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