Sisters are doing it for themselves – or are we?
In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, and this year’s theme, #BreaktheBias, we are featuring stories from our ED&I leaders across the globe from March 1 – 8. Learn more about how AECOM is breaking the bias for our employees and communities, by following our conversations on LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as the AECOM Blog.
I’m delighted to be celebrating my first International Women’s Day (IWD) at AECOM. Since joining in June 2021, it’s been clear what a special place IWD holds in the AECOM calendar as we celebrate the successes of our amazing women professionals and challenge ourselves to continue our work to to #BreakTheBias.
In our Europe and India region, we are looking to build on the promise of our previous initiatives like MCircles, our Returners programme and the Women’s Business Council in India. We have seen some real strong progress in our Early Careers programme. Our annual graduate women intake has risen from 25 percent in 2014 to 37 percent in 2021 – we hit a new milestone in 2019 when it reached 42 percent. In 2021, we also brought in our highest number of women graduates in the UK and Ireland.
A recent report by the Institute of Employment Studies found that at current rates of progress it will take more than a century for there to be the same number of women as men working in engineering occupations overall in the U.K. However, companies can’t just recruit their way out of gender disparity. Too many of the brilliant women who join the workforce, stall and do not reach senior leadership positions. At AECOM, we have some amazing women in senior roles, but there is still more to do to hit our internal targets that are aligned to our ESG strategy.
In Europe and India, we are very proud to see our women involved in career development programmes like CEO Circle and Business Builders Circle, and we will be relentless at building our pipeline. We are aiming to launch a new programme called Empower to improve our Women in Leadership representation. Whilst these programmes help, they are not the only answer. How can we fix the organisational barriers which aren’t always so evident?
Gender equality includes men too.
The highlight for us in Europe and India will be launching our Gender Employee Resource Group for all genders, not just those who identify as women. Why?
- Because we cannot achieve true gender equality and #BreakTheBias as a minority group. Women can and have made true progress, but to bring about the level of culture change we want, we need our male colleagues to support us.
- Because the majority of those in positions of power and influence are men and we need them to be active allies, speaking up for gender equality, especially whenwomen are either a lone voice or not in the room at all.
- Because gender equality benefits everyone, not just women. Women shouldn’t have to fight this battle alone.
- Because too often, men are excluded from ED&I and feel they don’t have the right to be included in the conversation. One group doesn’t have to lose for another to win.
When I look back at my career, I’ve had some wonderful sisters who’ve been my sponsors and mentors, but I have also been supported by brilliant men, too. My dad brought me up to be anything I wanted to be, with no limitations because of my gender. My husband has been my ultimate teamie to somehow manage to keep my career on track whilst having two children. My son is my cheerleader (not that he’d ever say!) and is seeing what women can achieve so he can be a feminist in his future life and relationships.
Who are the great men who have helped you?
Could I have done it on my own? We’ll never know. What I do know is IWD is not just important for me and the great women at AECOM, it’s important for all of us. Together we are stronger!