IStructE sat down with Lucy Miller, Global Head of Inclusion, Diversity and Engagement at Buro Happold, to discover more about D&I in structural engineering.
What does Inclusion mean to Buro Happold?
Our commitment to Inclusion continues to be a guiding philosophy and in recent years it has evolved to become 'Equity Above All Else', a principle that underpins our firm's strategy, including our projects, people and operations. We understand that our industry has not always been as welcoming as it could be to everyone, and we are working in a number of ways to combat the inequalities and lack of representation across the industry. We strive to promote our inclusion aims in every region in which we operate, holding ourselves accountable for progress against our Regional Equity Plans.
How is Buro Happold tackling bias in recruitment?
We seek to interrupt and reduce opportunities for bias at all stages of the employee life cycle and this begins at the attraction and recruitment stage, where we use tools to highlight biased terms in our adverts, reach past traditional candidate pools and a recruitment process that focuses on the skills and abilities related to the role. Our process seeks to ensure that candidates are interviewed by a range of people and have an opportunity to see our office and meet the team where possible, so they can get a feel for our culture. Our Recruitment Charter sets out all expected behaviours and processes that are to be adhered to during the hiring process. All hiring managers receive a copy and discuss with their regional recruiter. We have also run a series of Inclusive Hiring workshops which guided hiring managers to examine our own biases and privilege, understand the impact of these on the candidate experience, and gave practical guidance on how to manage these.
What is the data saying?
Particularly when compared to other organisations in the engineering sector, we have made considerable progress in recruiting and retaining female employees. Although just 16.5% of engineers in the UK are female, we are proud that over 29% of our technical workforce are women. Additionally, half of our graduate intake each year since 2017 has consisted of female engineers and we have grown the number of female Partners in the practice by 30%. Since the launch of our UK Gender Pay Gap reporting in 2018, which provided a useful benchmark, we have worked to address the shortage of female technical leaders focussing on the retention and development of women through our business.
To truly understand the respective needs of our employees and in support of our broader aims for the industry, we are broadening our approach to collecting employee data, allowing it to be tracked and analysed in an intersectional way. We are pleased to note that initial data is positive regarding representation of employees from underrepresented groups across our firm and at all levels, but there is still much work to do. Partnering with the #10000BLACKINTERNS programme as a member of the steering group, we continue to seek to understand and address the challenges of Black, Asian and minority ethnic engineers joining and succeeding in our sector. As a Disability Confident Committed employer, we are challenging ourselves to do more to create an inclusive and accessible working environment.
How do Buro Happold encourage employees to share their voice around diversity and inclusion?
We have over a dozen employee network groups globally, each actively supporting underrepresented communities and open to all employees. They provide an inclusive and safe environment for employees to share ideas and offer support. As a critical friend to the business, they provide invaluable help with shaping meaningful initiatives and policies for Buro Happold. In 2020 the UK Inclusion Council was formed, to which each of our employee network groups is invited to send a representative. Additionally, the council has self-nominated independent members as well as executive sponsorship in the form of a Buro Happold Partner who attends all meetings, supports actions and can be the voice of the Council at executive meetings.
We employ a continual listening strategy at Buro Happold, employees can have their voices heard through our peer to peer mentoring platform in which they can ask questions/provide feedback to the business, onboarding, exit and pulse surveys and a myriad of Yammer and Teams groups. Listening is learning, we value this feedback which helps us ensure we continue to make Buro Happold a place where everyone can thrive.
Lucy Miller is Global Head of Inclusion, Diversity and Engagement at Buro Happold.