The difference is making it happen

The difference is making it happen

In recognition of International Women’s Day on March 8, and this year’s theme, #BeBoldForChange, we are featuring stories from our leaders and employees throughout the month of March, describing their own bold moments in relation to workplace equality and honoring diversity and inclusion.

There’s a huge difference between paying lip service to gender equality and taking action to achieve real change. Two years ago, after discussions with a number of our incredibly talented women leaders in our Europe, Middle East, Africa and India (EMIA) geography, I realised we needed to go further to recognise and capitalize on the great potential within our team.

Since then, I believe we’ve made tremendous progress with our diversity and inclusion strategy, demonstrating how we can #BeBoldforChange and work towards true equality as the status quo in our workplace. Our efforts have centered on developing concrete goals and actions, learning more about ourselves and each other, and recognizing and supporting programmes that deliver results.

Defining goals

  • We’ve developed and implemented a diversity strategy that includes targets for the total number of women and women leaders in our teams, rather than being satisfied with “tokenism.”
  • Our diversity goals are communicated internally and externally, and we ensure our recruiters and managers understand just how serious we are.

Learning more

  • We’re taking a deeper look at ourselves and identifying unconscious bias in order to make more inclusive decisions. Through unconscious bias training, we’re creating better leaders who are better able to champion diversity and realize the benefits it brings.
  • We’re ensuring visibility and empowering individuals, learning from and celebrating the incredible women role models we have within our teams and the significant contributions they make to our overall business.

Recognising results

  • As part of our drive to keep diversity and inclusion at the top of our leadership agenda, we launched a programme of reverse mentoring. It involves junior staff from diverse backgrounds mentoring members of our EMIA executive team to show what life is like from different perspectives. We’ve seen great success with the programme, and it has been enlightening, sobering and motivating in equal parts!
  • We know it’s working — we’re hearing from employees and clients who’ve been positively impacted by our diversity and inclusion strategy, and we’re seeing the great business results of better, stronger, more diverse teams.

These ideas may not be new, but what makes the difference is the actual implementation. It’s impossible to put ourselves in the hearts and minds of all of those around us, but we can listen, do our best to understand, and make it easier for each person to be heard. We can act and we can make a difference for people in their careers.

I strongly believe that the incredible diversity of our people and our commitment to doing the right thing are some of AECOM’s key strengths as a company. As such, we’re determined that our workforce fully represents the communities we serve and that career progression reflects performance, talent and behaviours.

steve morris headshot_89x100Steve Morriss is president and chief executive of AECOM in the United Kingdom, Continental Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India, where the company has 18,000 employees serving clients in 51 countries. He also serves as co-chair of the company’s Ethics and Compliance Committee. Prior to joining AECOM in 2011, Steve’s 27-year career included senior executive roles with Serco PLC and WS Atkins. He is a civil engineer and has served in the British Royal Engineers and Royal Marines Reserve.
Linked In: Steve Morriss

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Comments

  1. Steve, this is brilliant.

  2. This is a really insightful peace. It shows how AECOM are addressing the diversity of the workforce right at the source of the issue. Employees from underrepresented sectors of society, with women being an example, should not be unduly promoted however there needs to be a a system where they have a fair chance of being in the position/putting themselves forward to be promoted/valued.

  3. I love this idea — I’m going to look for a way to implement within our teams. It really turns the tables on the traditional idea of mentoring.

    “As part of our drive to keep diversity and inclusion at the top of our leadership agenda, we launched a programme of reverse mentoring. It involves junior staff from diverse backgrounds mentoring members of our EMIA executive team to show what life is like from different perspectives.”

  4. Thanks everyone. Since posting this blog I have been given a new role inside AECOM and am delighted to say that my good friend and colleague Lara Poloni will become the Chief Executive of EMIA. I know she will accelerate the progress we are making in a number of important areas.

    I do strongly recommend the reverse mentoring approach – it really does make you think differently (and better!)

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