Push to change flexibility culture for both men and women earns GHD gender equality recognition

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GHD has been named by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) as a ‘2016 Employer of Choice,’ recognising the company’s proactive efforts to change work culture to promote diversity and inclusion.

GHD is one of only a handful of companies in the engineering, architecture and environmental consulting sector to achieve WGEA’s sought-after recognition.

According to WGEA, trends in this year’s recipients include a focus on flexibility and greater support for women to progress into leadership positions.

Over the past 12 months the percentage of women in senior leadership roles at GHD increased by 16 percent in Australia. Women now make up 38 percent of GHD’s Australian leadership team, and 33 percent of the GHD board. More than 40 percent of Australian new starters this financial year have been women (compared with 36 percent in 2015/16).

GHD General Manager – Australia, Phil Duthie, a WGEA Pay Equity Ambassador and a member of Consult Australia’s Male Champions of Change group, says concerted efforts to evolve culture have been pivotal.

“It is relatively easy to introduce a diversity strategy, and it is relatively easy to introduce flexible working policies. What’s much harder is shifting the culture — for both men and women — so real change actually happens,” Phil says.

“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.

“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.

“It is really pleasing to see how this 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.

“We set up our diversity and inclusion strategy in 2014 because we were looking for better business outcomes, but it was also driven by my personal experience of how diverse teams enrich the strategic conversations and team dynamics. So this Employer of Choice recognition from WGEA is something we really cherish.”

GHD is progressively training 120 of line managers in Australia in the principles of managing a flexible workforce.

GHD named 2016 Employer of Choice by WGEA

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