Diversity and inclusion are usually treated as enhancements, not as core to business success. But organisations need a real strategy to embed diversity and inclusion – not just a series of tactical measures that may or may not add up to a plan.
That’s why at Amey we have Freedom to Perform, a culture where initiatives are aimed at changing the whole workplace rather than being based on the hope that a few more women will be encouraged to fit into existing working practices.
We have fundamentally changed the environment we work in and the way we work. All roles are now open to agile working, not just part-time, but flexible working hours and a hybrid working culture. That allows us to attract diverse talent from a huge pool and from anywhere in the UK, and enables these people stay in those locations.
We have also made deliberate process changes to counter biases that stack the odds against women. This approach has given people the licence to come forward with ideas and practical design interventions, enabling them to work with minimal constraints. Positive actions such as menopause support, providing free feminine hygiene products in the workplace and extended maternity benefits recognise and address issues that previously have been ignored.
This whole organisation approach has benefitted everyone as we recognise life changing events affect men as well as women. It has resulted in a flexible personal day for all our frontline employees and extended support for stressful times such as miscarriage, moving home or divorce.
It is important to recognise that we can be equal but different if we’re really going to achieve progress.