43 percent of the 359 graduates joining global infrastructure services firm AECOM’s UK and Ireland graduate programme in 2018 are female, significantly higher than the industry average of 26 percent* and a substantial improvement on its gender split from five years ago, which was 25 percent. The company has achieved a consistent rise in the number of female graduates joining its business since introducing a long-term strategy to build a more diverse workforce and help address the gender imbalance that exists across the built environment sector.
The company’s 2018 gender split is a 13 percent increase from its 2017 graduate intake and marks an 18 percent improvement since the inception of its diversity programme in 2014. Importantly, the figures show a 12 percent increase in female graduates joining its transportation business since 2017, which is a typically challenging sector in which to recruit women.
Through its diversity programme, AECOM has changed the way it promotes its graduate vacancies to help attract more female applicants. This includes rebranding its graduate marketing materials by changing language, tone, colour and content based on research around how female applicants behave and what they look for. As a result, more focus is given to promoting the company’s culture, environment and its corporate social responsibility activities. The company strives to have a female representative at all graduate recruitment events and recruitment campaigns showcase an equal gender split of past graduates. It has also highlighted the achievements of its female engineers through online and print editorial in the graduate recruitment space and through a targeted social media campaign.
David Barwell, Chief Executive – UK & Ireland, AECOM, said: “Some years ago we realised we needed to think laterally and more creatively about how to attract and retain the best female talent. The ability to draw on the skills of a diverse range of people from a variety of different backgrounds is vital to our success as a business and the projects we deliver. Greater diversity leads to better outcomes, encouraging innovation and creativity.
“Our 2018 graduate gender split is the latest year-on-year improvement we’ve achieved in the UK and Ireland and we won’t stop until we are satisfied our workforce represents the communities we serve. The graduates joining us this year will have meaningful roles on a range of vital, complex and innovative projects, and none of this work is gender specific. With the built environment sector facing a persistent gender imbalance, taking our profession to the people the industry needs to reach rather than expecting them to find us is key.”
AECOM’s graduate diversity programme is one of a number of strategies the company has put in place to help it build a more diverse workforce. Other initiatives include attracting more female apprentices and working with schools to help encourage young people, and girls in particular, into technical professions. The company’s returner programme, launched earlier this year, is designed to support women and men from a range of backgrounds back into the workplace following career breaks.
*High Fliers UK Graduate Careers Survey 2018