Companies that are getting it right - GHD

Companies That Get It Right: GHD

In a typically male dominated sector, engineering consultancy GHD has taken a pioneering approach towards improving workplace culture and promoting diversity and inclusion for employees.

These efforts have been recognised by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), which awarded GHD a 2016 Employer of Choice Award at the end of last year, the third time this company has received the award.

The WGEA’s Employer of Choice for Gender Equality Citation, which commenced in 2014, aims to encourage, recognise and promote active commitment to achieving gender equality in Australian workplaces.

Organisations must meet strict criteria to receive the citation across categories such as leadership, learning and development, gender pay gaps, flexible working and initiatives which support family responsibilities, employee consultation, prevent gender-based harassment and discrimination and targets for improving gender equality outcomes.

Phil Duthie, GHD’s General Manager – Australia, a WGEA Pay Equity Ambassador and a member of Consult Australia’s Male Champions of Change group, says, “Despite more rigorous criteria across the WGEA’s selection process, it is great to see real change happening in a historically male-dominated industry.”

In reflecting on GHD’s progress, Mr Duthie says, “I am particularly proud of the strides we have made with flexible working to support men and women to balance work and personal commitments.”

Increasingly, research is proving that opportunities for flexible working help attract and retain a diverse workforce. Earlier this year, a unified flexible working policy was created by GHD’s Diversity and Inclusion Group, comprising a cross-section of people from across the Australian business.

According to Mr Duthie one of the biggest challenges has been shifting the organisation’s cultural acceptance of flexible working as a legitimate and valuable way of delivering quality outcomes for clients and business.

“We’re seeing more people with flexible working and part time contracts applying for management and other key positions, which is fantastic. From a company point of view, it’s a real win-win situation as we have a more comprehensive list of applicants for roles.”

This cultural shift has contributed to significant growth in the number of women occupying senior roles within the organisation. Over the past 12 months the percentage of women in leadership positions at GHD increased by 16 per cent in Australia and women now make up 38 per cent of GHD’s Australian leadership team, and 33 per cent of the GHD board. In addition, more than 40 per cent of Australian new starters this financial year have been women (compared with 36 per cent in 2015/16).

Mr Duthie, says introducing a diversity strategy and flexible work policies are easy but actually motivating people to change, both women and men is hard.

“Ours is a male-dominated industry, and if we want to drive better diversity and inclusion then we need to be shaking off old norms and entrenching better, more flexible ways of working.

“We can only make flexibility the norm if it is seen as normal for both men and women. More broadly, our approach recognises that our people have a life outside of work, and may need support to balance their responsibilities at home or other interests.

Mr Duthie highlights the importance of rolemodelling at senior levels.

“My senior leadership team and I have been conscious that if we work flexibly on a regular basis, we will give others the confidence to ask for non-traditional arrangements that suit them.

I try to work flexibly on a regular basis, at times necessitated by personal matters and pursuits. We are looking to create a cultural acceptance of flexible working as a legitimate and valuable way of delivering for our clients and our business,” he said

Mr Duthie says the culture of flexibility has given more women at GHD the confidence to express interest in leadership roles.

“There’s now greater acceptance that client and business outcomes can be delivered without following the traditional full-time, office-bound model.”

To support the move towards a fully flexible workforce GHD is progressively training 120 of line managers in Australia in the principles of managing a flexible workforce.

Fore more information visit the GHD website.