Jill Hannaford

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You were instrumental in establishing GHD’s partnership with the CareerTrackers program, which provides internships for Indigenous Australians. Talk us through this.
This is a real labour of love for me. A few years back, I felt it would be beneficial to have an Indigenous person on our team to assist us with our expanding stakeholder engagement practice – particularly due to our increasing work with Indigenous communities. After contacting CareerTrackers, which was in its infancy at that stage, we took on our first Indigenous intern in 2010.

On the whole, it made good business sense for us to support the CareerTrackers program and employ Indigenous people. We knew the diversity of thinking and the capacity building we could achieve was going to benefit GHD as well as our corporate social responsibility and our commitment to closing the gap. Last year, we formalised our arrangement with CareerTrackers into a 10-year partnership to provide training and employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians. GHD now has one of the largest numbers of interns for an organisation of our size, having employed nearly 50 interns to date.

As a woman in the professional services sector, how has diversity and inclusion shaped your career?
After graduating with a social sciences degree, I got a job as a trainee in the transport sector. This was a fairly unique position at the time and it opened my eyes to the lack of technical career pathways available for women. I realised there was a need for programs to encourage and support women in this area. Fast forward 27 years, and we are well on our way to achieving this.

Being a woman in a technical sector has been a positive experience for me that’s been enriched by GHD’s culture of teamwork. While there have been inevitable challenges along the way, our collective focus on getting the job done has meant that working with diverse people is extremely beneficial in deriving more inclusive outcomes for our clients.

In 1996, you established GHD’s community consultation practice. Twenty years on, what has changed?
In the early days, our engineers were coming up with technically competent solutions for our clients. However, there were often issues at the implementation stage, because these solutions were not well understood by the community. I saw the need to explain solutions to all stakeholders earlier in the project lifecycle and that’s how our practice came about. Over the years, I’ve watched the discipline evolve from being focused on explaining projects to communities to having a broader agenda that includes added engagement, planning and development as well as social sustainability.

What do you consider are the keys to success in having a diverse and inclusive workplace?
For GHD, it’s about sticking to our values, which are a good guiding point. Raising awareness for the various elements of diversity and inclusion is also very important in our journey – that means having frequent and evolving conversations about what our approach looks like in terms of gender equity, Indigenous people, and the LGBTI community, for example.

Interested in joining GHD?

Visit our Careers Page to see our current vacancies.