- 1. the state of being diverse; variety.
- “there was considerable diversity in the style of the reports”
- 2. the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc.
- “equality and diversity should be supported for their own sake”
Talking Diversity – How MCE is Accelerating Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace
As a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers Council, I personally have had a chance to view detailed information detailing the pipeline of future engineers and infrastructure profession in international universities. Like many organisations and business leaders, MCE are taking real and meaningful action to promote and accelerate diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
MCE are an equal opportunity business who believes that the workplace has no future without equal career opportunities, pay equity, fair representation and a true sense of belonging. In order to create belonging for a wider group of people, we have decided to invest in launching a diversity and inclusion programme to move our business forward.
We are determined to make a real difference in the workplace, sowe have broken down an approach into small yet actionable steps within our sphere of influence to be an industry leader amongst our peers.
Providing Clarity of Purpose
As part of our diversity and inclusion programme, we are providing clarity of purpose, ownership and resources.
The initial steps included providing free and independent assessments to allow teams to confidentially assess their own perspective. In turn, this has increased awareness and opened up discussions around unconscious bias across the team.
Unconscious bias occurs when individuals make judgments based on gender, race, disability, sexual orientation or other factors without even realising. For certain individuals, change can be uncomfortable. This behaviour could potentially, but not necessarily be due to upbringing, media or a bias to preserve the status quo. Individuals who hold such beliefs should in no way be discriminated against.
On the other hand, you have open bias, which includes ageism, racism, also stereotyping and prejudice. Open bias can be tackled directly but must be done so in a tactful manner.
Any level of bias in the workplace or society is not to be accepted, which is why MCE have provided a series of Implicit Bias Tests (IBT) (e.g. Harvard IAT Test) for our team to undertake as part of their continuous professional development. This will in turn help to understand their perspective and our understanding of unconscious bias.
IBTs form only part of the answer, but it’s an important first step to increase our team’s awareness of unconscious bias.
Accelerating Diversity and Inclusion
Based on well doncumented industry research, studies show that people who come from diverse backgrounds can alter the behaviour of a group’s social majority. This leads to changed mindsets.
It’s been proven that companies and especially, board-level teams that aren’t diverse, often replicate their business decisions. We need to be more open to alternative perspectives.
For example, in a global analysis of 2400 companies conducted by Credit Suisse, organisations with at least one female board member, yielded a higher return on equity and higher net income growth than those that didn’t have any women present on the board.
Similarly, the 2015 McKinsey report on 360 public companies found that those in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean. Those who were in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to have returns above the industry mean. This is also supported by recent investigations by the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
MCE has committed to the following timeline, accelerating diversity and conintually promoting inclusion in the workplace:
- 2021 – Recruitment and attraction – MCE will actively recruit and attract diverse members of the team with competent skills and experience, enhancing our succession planning and improving our retention. This improves client satisfaction.
- 2022 – Equal pay – We have confidence that all employees receive equal pay for roles with equivalent skills across all Australian states.
- 2023 – Gender-balanced workforce – We are striving to be the market-leader within our sector, ensuring that women are fairly represented at every level within MCE.
- 2024 – Leadership roles – By the year 2024 we will have increased the number of under-represented groups within our leadership cohort by 25%.
- 2026 – Accessibility Confident Employer – Within the 5-year timeline, we will be a prominent Accessibility Confident employer, for both visible and invisible disabilities. We will foster a workplace without stigma and support employees with their mental health and wellbeing.
9 Steps to Bridge the Gap
MCE have devised a 9-step plan in order to bridge the gap. Details of the programmes and workplace policies being implemented are below.
- Diversity and inclusion training programme – Our training plan started with learning content and discussion around unconscious bias. This was taken up by our leadership team initially and has driven some great conversations. We have also shared other learning opportunities.
- Changing the narrative/language –For example, by using masculine sounding words such as “ambitious” and “dominate” in a job advert, makes it less appealing to female applicants and potentially deter them from applying for a job. Technology can help us here with tools such as Textio or Talvista that utilise intelligent research to provide other word suggestions, making it gender neutral and appeal to wider demographics. Tools such as Gender Decoder is useful to highlight any unintended discrimination through process.
- Encourage blind hiring to peers/clients – This is achieved by excluding information (e.g. date of birth, name) from our teams’ resumé, before discussing with clients listing the experience, achievements, and qualifications of an individual to overcome potential unconscious bias.
- Flexible workplace policies –One thing 2020 has made very clear is that people can be just as productive working from home and a good business will trust them to do so. Flexible working arrangements created a change in societies attitudes and beliefs, enabling further engagement of those who could not easily commute because of childcare commitments, reduced mobility etc. MCE have always been a remote working and flexible business since its formation, but we will endeavour to include more job-share or part-time opportunities making it accessible for all.
- Competency framework and skills matrix –As part of our business’ governance, we have clarity of what is expected from our team in each role. We are committed to creating a credible and fair promotion process, so we will assess on a consistent basis, how individuals are performing against these sets of expectations. We introduced an agile, competency framework and a psychometric assessment toolkit which has received positive feedback. In addition, we recently launched our Leadership Development Programme in conjunction with Oxford University, aiming to develop high organisational leadership skills in potential talent.
- Publishing salary bands and producing a voluntary pay gap report –People value transparency and we have set a very visible goal of achieving these by 2023.
- Offering mentoring and coaching programmes – A ‘buddy’ system will be implemented, including those who have recently joined our future consultant programme. We want to allow people from diverse backgrounds to share their experiences.
- Website and social media – MCE are proud to be accelerating diversity and inclusion in the workplace by promoting this across our website and social platforms.
- Use psychometric testing– These tools measure potential team members’ hard skills and/or behavioural preferences and motivations in line with the role requirements. Some, such as the ERAS Profiler will even compare a candidate’s results against all other previous test takers at their same professional level. The result can be measured alongside someone’s resumé to help ensure hiring decisions are based on potential and skills, helping reduce unconscious bias.
The Work Ahead for MCE
Admittedly, there is still a lot of work ahead of us before biases can start to disappear from society and our workplaces. The first step is to work towards removing our own personal biases from our unconscious to our conscious, allowing us to broaden the narrative with our stakeholders and teams.
A company can make a change toward the right direction, but it must also build inclusion in the workplace, creating belonging for employees. Acknowledging and celebrating things such as key dates, religious holidays and events that are important to all employees is a small, but important start.
This is just a brief snapshot at how an organisation such as MCE is examining and actively accelerating diversity and inclusion in the workplace, but the changes will be quite impactful.
We hope these insights provide you with some ideas into what the immediate future could hold and invite you to join the conversation.