#IWD, International Women's Day, InvestInWomen, IWD2024, Women's History Month

To mark International Women’s Day, and this year’s theme of Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress, hear from the women on our Executive Leadership Team to learn about their career journeys and their ongoing commitment to driving positive change for women in the global workplace and beyond.

Lara Poloni, President

Since joining AECOM as an urban planner 30 years ago, I’ve felt privileged to grow my career with an organization that recognizes the importance of building teams that reflect the diverse communities we serve – one where everyone has the opportunity to be heard, to achieve, and to succeed, regardless of gender.

Each year, International Women’s Day provides an opportunity to celebrate women’s many achievements and acknowledge the progress we have made to improve women’s representation and participation – while committing to further action.  This year, it’s also an opportunity to explore how our work with clients can help address inequalities and create greater social value in the communities in which we live, work, and play. 

At AECOM, we recognize society’s diverse needs, and how those needs influence infrastructure’s impact. We believe social value is maximized though investments in local communities that generate positive social and economic outcomes. This ‘whole of life’ infrastructure thinking sees us work with our clients, partners, and suppliers to identify the opportunities presented by our projects and align them to the current and emerging needs of local communities.

I remain committed to continuing AECOM’s efforts to accelerate progress towards gender equality. We envision a world where infrastructure creates opportunities for everyone, and I believe there is much to be optimistic about.

Shirley Adams, Chief Human Resources Officer

On this International Women’s Day, I feel proud of our ongoing commitment to and investment in advancing gender equality, including us achieving our 20% goal for women in leadership in 2023.  We continue to set goals that keep us focused on increasing the diversity of our workforce and advance women in their careers.  These goals are set against a backdrop of continuing to drive a culture of inclusion across our global organisation. 

I take great delight in seeing women thrive in their careers because they have the right support, tools and access to opportunities. In my role I have the privilege of seeing the delivery of a range of initiatives, programmes and policies designed to enhance the employee experience and ensure a truly level playing field for all. From mentoring programs to Employee Resource Groups to enhanced parental leave policies, our regions are continually working to create workplaces that accelerate the progress of women at AECOM, with more to come this year. 

Emily Gepner, Global Capabilities Officer

We cannot achieve our mission of delivering a better world without the efforts and dedication of our people and I feel privileged to work with a global talented and diverse team every day.

Throughout my career, I have been lucky to learn from strong leaders and colleagues around the world. My experience learning from people who come from different cultures and backgrounds has had a profound impact on shaping the leader I am today – one who aims to be aware of barriers, bias and the importance of giving everyone equal opportunities. Having experienced the value of mentoring first-hand, and the transformative effect it can have on both personal and professional development, I would encourage all women to seek out someone they admire to mentor and coach them.

Driving an inclusive culture starts with each one of us. We can be more successful when we support, champion, and elevate the achievements of one another. For me, every action in favor of equality is an action towards improving my daughters’ future experiences as they join the next generation entering the workforce.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, let’s recognize how far we have gotten and prepare for the work we still need to do. Continuing the conversation not just today but every day, elevating women’s voices, and providing equal access to opportunities is the only way we can truly accelerate progress.

Beverley Stinson, Global Business Line Chief Executive, Water

Empowering women has always been – and remains – a core personal commitment and in my role, it strongly resonates with me that girls and women continue to play a disproportionate role in providing water and addressing sanitation needs for their families around the world.

Investing in women to accelerate progress is a human rights imperative for building inclusive societies, and I take great pride in championing this in AECOM’s Water business line, to enable women to make a valued contribution to the firm, their clients and the industry for a more resilient and equitable future. 

One way we are investing in this as a business is through our collaborations with Water for People and Surge for Water. These organizations help provide communities around the world with access to safe water and sanitation  services and solutions. We have a number of awareness and fundraising events coming up, driven by our Employee Resource Groups, and I’m looking forward to seeing how our firm can continue making a positive and sustainable impact globally.

Sarah Urbanowicz, Chief Information Officer

The world of technology is traditionally a male-dominated industry, so my career hasn’t been without its challenges. Driven by my own experiences, I am motivated to ensure that everyone at AECOM has the resources and opportunities they need to reach their full potential, no matter their gender.   However, we know that familiar phrase – you can’t be what you can’t see.  It’s important that girls have visible role models in STEM industries and see these areas as a viable career choice.  We know we have much work to do to increase the number of girls who study STEM subjects and pursue STEM careers. 

Across our regions, there is often unseen work going on to inspire the next generation of women.  International Women’s Day provides an opportunity to spotlight some of these efforts, including a Girls in STEM workshop delivered to the year 8 cohort at Cranbourne Secondary College in Melbourne, Australia, hosting a series of engaging engineering-based activities at a local school in Chesterfield, UK to inspire girls’ interest in STEM subjects and career, and recently attending the 2024 weSTEM (Women Empowered in STEM) event held at University of Illinois to represent, recruit and engage with women engineers.

International Women’s Day continues to be important to me because it celebrates the accomplishments of women who paved the way for me and other women executives. It also makes sure that we continue to work toward parity for generations to come.

This year, for International Women’s Day on March 8, we are following the United Nations’ theme of ‘Invest in Women: Accelerate progress’, which is based on the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals and is in alignment with our Sustainable Legacies strategy.

Follow our IWD 2024 blog series to hear from our leaders around the world about initiatives and programs geared towards investing in women at AECOM.

Engage in this year’s conversations on LinkedIn and X (Twitter).

Originally published Mar 5, 2024

Author: AECOM Editors