As a global construction and engineering company with employees in 40 countries, Bechtel sees diversity and inclusion as an essential part of its business ethos and practice. It looks back on five years of work to improve the recruitment, retention and progression of women, driven initially by the predicted shortage of engineers. That work started at the top, with the company’s leaders championing the message, backing new diversity and inclusion practices and taking responsibility for performance goals.
Why is this important?
Without leadership from the top, diversity and inclusion programmes are likely to falter. Senior managers need to understand how the recruitment, retention and progression of women benefit the business as a whole and how the culture needs to change to facilitate this. They should send clear signals to everyone across the organisation.
Visibility is vital: individual leaders should prominently support and communicate the need for diversity and ensure it is embedded in business practices. To guarantee that this is more than token support, managers at all levels need to be held accountable, with challenging performance targets set from the top down.
What are the results?
- In 2014, female resignations (at the 5-10 year point in careers) dropped from 20% to 9%.
- The same year saw a 13% increase in the intake of women graduates.
- By 2015, nearly 40% of Bechtel’s engineers on the Crossrail project were women.
- By 2016 16% of Bechtel’s engineers in the UK overall were women.
What is being done?
- Diversity and inclusion is built into the company’s fundamental vision and values, approved by senior leaders and conveyed as part of the induction process for all staff.
- Performance targets are set, informed by annual staff surveys, with managers held accountable for outcomes.
- Messages are communicated from the top down, with senior leaders writing regularly in the company newsletter and taking part in events such as speed networking.
- Women@Bechtel operates as an employee forum open to anyone and sponsored by a senior executive.
- Senior managers – men and women – act as mentors.
- All managers with two or more direct reports are trained in unconscious bias.
- They also receive 360-degree appraisals, with feedback from more junior colleagues and extra training given where need is indicated.