WSP is resolute in seeking to build a diverse organization with an authentic and inclusive culture in which every person’s unique contribution is celebrated and channelled no matter where they are and how they describe themselves. However, in a geographically diverse organization such as WSP, it would be misguided to assume a one-size-fits-all approach. It is imperative that when we drill down, our global aspirations can be reflected across our regions and countries. The challenge is to implement objectives that are ambitious but at the same time appropriate across a rich tapestry of geographic, cultural and social settings.
With that context in mind, we adopted key metrics as part of the strategy, which simultaneously aim to embed and accelerate our I&D aspirations from the top down and the bottom up. These include our measurement of “sense of belonging” and “sense of trust” at WSP, and our challenge to each WSP region to deliver an annual 5% improvement in the proportion of employees from women and Under-Represented Groups. To measure this, we determined a baseline at the end of 2021 for this metric, which includes our middle management and business leaders. The approach accommodates local cultural norms and legislative positions, while enabling us to assess the composition of our workforce and track progress around recruitment, retention and promotions. We can then identify any gaps and help the regions to identify ways to improve the diversity of their business. In 2022, I’m happy to say that globally we secured the minimum 5% year-on-year improvement.
How is the Global I&D Community of Practice helping to embed all aspects of I&D into WSP globally?
Setting up the Global I&D Community of Practice was a top priority for my role. WSP already had teams of dedicated people focused on I&D around the world, but they lacked a forum through which to connect. With an annual program of meetings, the community has established links between our I&D leads, enabling them to exchange knowledge and highlight projects in their respective regions, and facilitating smaller working groups to progress areas of mutual benefit or interest. The feedback I received from our I&D leads is that this group provides much needed mutual support in this area.
One initiative introduced via the community is a quarterly schedule of I&D Spotlights. These virtual events enable individual regions to present on their regulatory contexts, local employment characteristics and broader activities. In an area where regulatory frameworks are evolving rapidly, they also provide roadmaps for other regions less advanced on their I&D journeys. Driving the I&D agenda is often championed by passionate individuals, so these forums bring them together as a community.
Nevertheless, while the community has proved instrumental in championing I&D issues across the business, undoubtedly the biggest push for true parity and inclusion is coming from our employees themselves, notably our early careers cohort and ERGs (employee resource groups).
Across society generally we have seen how companies have sought to address their environmental footprints in response to the sustainability agenda, driven not least by their own employees. The I&D agenda is now similarly gathering momentum, fueled from the ground up. A concrete and actionable commitment to creating a more equitable workplace is integral to good corporate citizenship.
What approach is WSP taking to increase diversity at the senior management level?
In challenging times, such as we have all experienced in the past few years, we need to pay particular attention to the diversity of our senior management as a differentiator for WSP. We will continue to strive for increased diversification, not least because our stakeholders - our employees, clients and investors - challenge us to seek further progress. Broadening the senior leadership composition of any organization the size and scale of WSP takes time, but we have put in place a range of measures that will lead to further diversification going forwards. Fundamentally, it’s about levelling the playing field, creating an equitable environment that ensures we get the best person for each role.