Diversity: it is all of the differences between people that shape their identities. It is age, cultural background, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic background, profession, education, work experience, and life experience. It is all of these aspects, and more, that inform an individual’s perspective of the world.
The need for diversity and inclusion is far more than a social one; it is a business imperative. Each and every person harnesses a wealth of individual experience that contributes to a business’s capabilities and the strength of the solutions they provide.
Studies have shown that effective management of workplace diversity is clearly linked to improvements in organisational performance, effectiveness, profitability and revenue generation. Tapping into the skills and perspectives of a diverse workforce increases creativity and innovation.
Engineering and construction company, Clough, embraces the ethos that diversity is imperative to the success and future of their business. They have made significant progress in this space recently as they continue in their journey to achieve a more diverse workforce.
Clough CEO Peter Bennett said his motivation for advocating diversity and inclusion was two-fold.
“Firstly, we need to be able to engage with all of the top talent available. With diversity in our company employee base, we ensure we access diversity of thought in the solutions we develop and the projects we deliver,” he said.
“Secondly, it stems from being a parent. I want my son and my daughter to be able to select a career based on their interests and capabilities and not because of any of society’s preconceptions on what is a ‘suitable’ career.”
Peter, who was a finalist for the Women in Resources Champion Award for 2021, believes there is still a long way to go for Clough and the mining industry at large, but it’s important to recognise the achievements made so far.
In 2020, Clough received the Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (EOCGE) citation by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA). They were one of only a few organisations in the engineering and construction industry that met the high standards and rigorous assessment process for the citation.
Clough worked with CEOs for Gender Equity to hold a number of Accelerating Gender Equity workshops in Clough’s Perth office. These workshops were held for Clough’s leadership team as well as separate male and female participant groups to gain an insight into where they stood as a business in respect to Gender Equity awareness and inclusivity.
The feedback from these workshops was overwhelmingly positive, but identified there was much more Clough could do as a business to improve gender equity in the future.
Since then, Clough has also implemented its Gender Equality Plan, defining the processes and methods it uses to achieve gender equality in the workforce and implemented its flexible work arrangement and remote workplace standard to provide more options to balance a career and a home life.
Clough also recently completed the first year of its Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and since its endorsement in February 2020, the business has seen genuine commitment from its employees to deliver on the agreements and to be part of the journey.
2020 proved to be a challenging year and the impact of COVID-19 was felt on the business and the agreed deliverables to achieve the RAP.
However, in the face of these challenges, the RAP working group demonstrated their dedication, and regardless of the restrictions imposed throughout the year, achieved several outcomes.
Included in the results is an exponential growth in business spend with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses.
Clough provided 10 new Indigenous traineeships, internships, and graduate opportunities. Increasing diversity in the internship and graduate offering is a key focus for Clough in building a more diverse pipeline of talent for the future leadership of the business.
In partnership with Indigenous cultural awareness training provider, Evolve, Clough rolled out an online Cultural Awareness Module for all staff. The module provided fundamental understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture to develop employees’ cultural knowledge and understanding.
They held Noongar Language Workshops for the Executive Committee, RAP Working Group, and other senior functional and skill pool managers at the Perth office to learn about the significance of Welcome to Country and Acknowledgement of Country protocols, and later published a Cultural Protocols guideline to educate staff.
Through the implementation of these initiatives, Clough has learned that it takes the commitment of everyone to create a successful, diverse workplace that people enjoy coming to.
“Our efforts to date across the broad scale of diversity provide a solid foundation on which we as a business and industry, can, and will continue to build on,” Peter said.
There is much more work to be done, but Clough is committed to making diversity and inclusion the norm across the workplace and throughout the industries and communities it works within.