We believe that employee engagement is crucial to the success of our business model and the delivery of our strategy. We have a positive impact on our employees through creation of high quality jobs with opportunities for progression. Clear communication ensures that employee goals are aligned to the Group. Regular training enables everyone to perform to the best of their ability and progress their career within the Group. We also offer flexible benefits to our employees in recognition that each individual has different needs, and those needs may change over time.

The composition of our workforce at 30 April is as follows:

. 2018 2017
. Male Female Total Male Female Total
UK 1,288 475 1,763 1,286 495 1,781
Spain 735 388 1,123 668 370 1,038
Ireland 83 31 114 69 28 97
Total 2,106 894 3,000 2,023 893 2,916

The gender split at a senior management level is as follows:

. 2018 2017
. Male Female Male Female
Directors 5 2 4 2
Senior managers 21 5 21 5

Health, safety and working environment

Our approach to health and safety is simple: to ensure that no harm comes to anyone engaged with Northgate. As employers we believe that we should mitigate health, safety and environment risks within our control to an acceptable level.

Our ‘Safe and sound’ programme creates an environment of openness
and awareness, where all colleagues feel empowered to raise concerns about working practices and conditions. Regular training is provided to employees, most of which is carried out internally by our Health, Safety & Environment team.

The Health, Safety & Environment team carried out audit reviews to measure performance of health, safety and environment management systems at all locations across the Group during the year and where necessary identified improvements and monitored compliance against Group policy.

Health and Safety performance across the business is measured using an Accident Frequency Rate (AFR). This is calculated as the number of lost time incidents, multiplied by 100,000, divided by the number of hours worked. These figures were as follows:

. 2018 2017 2016
UK 0.9 0.8 0.9
Spain 1.9 1.9 2.2
Ireland 0.9 1.0 1.1
Total 1.2 1.2 1.4

We aim to have as low an AFR as possible. However, due to the unique nature of our business it is difficult to find a comparator population for AFRs from which to deduce a meaningful target other than minimisation. AFRs are monitored against previous performance and if there were to be a significant decline in performance then a root cause analysis, over and above the continuous monitoring currently in place, would be performed.

Internal communications

The Group mixes face to face, digital and traditional communications channels in order to maximise the impact of communication with our employees. Examples include newsletters, staff conferences and use of Yammer.

Training

We use multiple training platforms for our employees. These include Leadership and Operations Academies in the UK and the Northgate Campus online platform in Spain.

Equality and human rights

Northgate is committed to equality and considers applicants without prejudice judging applications for employment neither by race, nationality, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation nor political bias.

Our ethical standards are communicated to employees through the Group’s Code of Business Conduct, which covers bribery, competition, conflicts of interest, inside information, confidentiality, gifts and entertainment, discrimination, harassment and fair dealing with customers and suppliers. In addition, the Group’s whistleblowing policy and procedure enables every employee to have a voice and a means by which they may draw concerns to our attention.