Advancing Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (Advance)
As an engineering consultancy, Mott MacDonald needs to attract the best talent and work effectively with a diverse client base. We also know from our own business case that diverse teams are more innovative and – if managed by inclusive leaders – more productive. Currently, 28% of Mott MacDonald’s UK workforce is female and 15% is Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME).
A challenge Mott MacDonald faces is the biased perspective of engineering and the work involved, which is much more varied and diverse than is perhaps commonly portrayed. The firm is taking steps to unlock the profession so it is seen as a desirable option for both men and women and appeals to a culturally and racially diverse talent pool.
Advance is Mott MacDonald’s employee network focusing on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI). Yet it is much more than that – it is the strategic and operational way in which the company is creating an inclusive culture.
Advance was formed in 2014 after securing board-level support in an internal Dragons Den competition. The network comprises a strategic committee, which includes the chairperson, managing director and HR director, six executive committee members from across the business, and the EDI manager. Advance also includes five regional champions across the UK who help to deliver the organisation’s EDI Action Plans alongside champions and board-level sponsors for strand-specific groups focusing on: disability; gender; parents and carers; race; and sexual orientation/transgender issues.
Advance aims to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace culture and it has a dedicated EDI Action Plan to enable this which includes SMART actions for 2016 with named persons responsible for delivery.
As part of its work towards an inclusive culture, Advance has led on the delivery of unconscious bias training to the board and more than 600 staff in the last 12 months, with training for Unit and Divisional management teams underway. In addition, the network’s
‘Inclusive Conduct’ project has delivered Inclusive Conduct toolkits for managers and staff on tackling inappropriate language/behaviour. The project is led by divisional managers and HR advisors from across the firm’s five business units – demonstrating the strength of Advance to convene and secure company-wide commitment and collaboration.
An ongoing commitment for Advance is engaging the wider business to recognise the challenge of under-representation of women and BAME employees across the workforce. While the firm’s Investors in Diversity and Employee Engagement survey showed high levels of support for EDI and the majority of staff felt the business was already inclusive, members of Advance felt it was important to share our own data on gender and race representation to identify areas of inequality. This was in order to highlight that equality may not be organic and based on ‘everyone being nice’, but actually about overcoming bias and proactively tackling inequality. The network has also focused on profiling diverse role models to raise awareness of diversity in leadership and support the ambitions of underrepresented groups in the business and talent pipelines.
Several examples of what Advance has done as part of its focus on race and ethnicity include:
- Advance 13: Facilitated opportunities for BAME, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual , Transgender (LGBT) and Disabled colleagues to network with minority peers. This led to the online ‘Focus Five Forums’ for staff to discuss race, age, disability, gender and LGBT+ issues, and is also shaping the Advancing Race BAME employee network.
- Leadership 2: Educate leaders and give them accountability for change through the reverse mentoring initiative. This is the focus of a reverse mentoring/buddying scheme with intergenerational pairings by age, LGBT, and race.
- Recruitment 1: Ensure Mott MacDonald is able to attract and recruit the best talent. This led to an audit and update of communications and marketing materials to ensure inclusive language and visible diversity (women and men, ethnic minorities) are represented fairly and without stereotype on all platforms.
Mott MacDonald has surveyed its staff to monitor progress with notably positive results. In their 2016 EDI survey, 95% of BAME respondents said they are proud to work for Mott MacDonald, above the overall average of 84%. The organisation has also seen a gradual increase in the recruitment of BAME graduates and apprentices, and will monitor the impact from several specific activities which are still in progress.