Tell us about your experience being a member of the VIBE/Pride community at WSP? What difference has it made to you personally by being part of the pride team at WSP?
It has been a very rewarding experience to champion VIBE in Australia. This initiative has provided me with the opportunity to deepen my awareness of the LGBTQ+ community and use these insights in my day-to-day life. This knowledge has also allowed me to grow my understanding regarding the biases, challenges and opportunities that the LGBTQ+ community may experience on a daily basis. Moreover, it has provided me with the strength and courage to bring my authentic self to work - without any questions or doubts. With the support of my colleagues and friends, I’ve been able to open up about myself and have found a new level of confidence and peace that I am now able to bring to the forefront at work.
What are some highlights of your experience within the group over the past year?
Our VIBE in Australia group officially launched in May 2019, in conjunction with International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, which served as a major milestone to our company’s commitment in establishing a diverse and inclusive platform for our LGBTQ+ employees. Our focus started with a two-pronged approach: visibility and education. The overarching goal is to demonstrate to our LGBTQ+ employees that WSP aims to foster a stimulating and safe work environment where our people can flourish personally and professionally, regardless of their position, background or gender.
Some various events and training sessions throughout the year included:
- Supported a national fundraising event for Wear-It Purple, a non-profit organization focused on providing mental health resources and housing to LGBTQ+ youth and their families.
- Sponsoring Pride in Diversity, an organization that provides our employees detailed material on LGBTQ+ issues, challenges and opportunities.
- In 2019, WSP’s business in Australia was the first engineering company to become an official partner with Out for Australia, an organization focused on providing mentorship and educational events.
- Employee participation in large-scale city events including the 2019 Perth Pride Parade and Sydney’s Mardi Gras festivals.
In what ways has your group adapted during the pandemic? What is the impact on your planned celebrations for Pride month? What are you hoping the events will accomplish?
As there are limited opportunities for in-person engagement due to COVID-19; we have promoted content online to our employees. A key initiative we started was “How to be an Ally training”, hosted by Pride in Diversity through online platforms including through a series of webinars and educational talks. In the last few months, it has encouraged many new employees to join, some of whom may have not felt as comfortable attending in-person sessions in the past.
How has being part of the Pride team supported you in your professional life?
As one of the leading champions of VIBE Australia’s New South Wales group, my role in the Pride network has significantly increased my visibility within the company. By sharing my knowledge and connecting with fellow colleagues, I have seen them reflect these insights in various project strategies as well as in client interactions. From the first day I joined VIBE, the relationship between our group members was powerful and our alignment in values and awareness of the importance of diversity in the workplace was deep rooted. Being part of this network has brought a profound level of connection with my colleagues across all disciplines and functions within WSP. It has also allowed me to showcase my leadership skills through initiating purpose-driven ideas into my projects and discussions with clients, and by encouraging difficult conversations in order to promote thoughtful and progressive ideas.
What does it mean to be working in a professional environment where diversity and inclusion are a core value?
I have had the opportunity to work closely with my VIBE team members for events and projects and quickly recognized the value our team brings to prompt a seamless connection for both collaboration and discussion. Knowing that WSP maintains diversity and inclusion as a core value, I am inspired to do my very best every day because I feel safe and comfortable at work.
What does pride at the WSP workplace mean to you and how does the organization put it to practice?
Personally, this means a commitment to supporting and showcasing the accomplishments, stories, and collaboration of all employees, including ones who identify as LGBTQ+, while allowing a safe space for everyone to feel that they can be unapologetically themselves. The organization can continue to provide the necessary resources for VIBE to improve LGBTQ+ visibility, offer educational training sessions, merchandise and foster open communication in projects and recruitment.