Operating in an industry facing a talent shortage, GHD is constantly looking for ways to ensure that it is an attractive workplace both for current employees and prospective ones. One way that the company is doing this is by ensuring it has robust and supportive structures for diversity and inclusion. After a review of its diversity and inclusion framework, GHD has been focusing on building a strategy for support of LGBTQI+ employees.
GHD is a global professional services company which is employee-owned. It employs more than 500 employees across 10 offices in New Zealand. The company has a dedicated Diversity and Inclusion Committee, made up of employees from across the business, and in 2017 the company initiated a review of its diversity and inclusion strategy, expanding upon its prior focus on gender equality.
In a staff survey as part of this review, 20 per cent identified LGBTQI+ inclusion as a challenge for the business, which was an area that had not been specifically addressed by GHD. In response to this, GHD established a Rainbow Committee which developed a three-year strategy to improve company-wide inclusion and understanding of the LGBTQI+ community.
The first year of the strategy focused on benchmarking where the company was concerning LGBTQI+ inclusiveness, then raising awareness and communicating a commitment from management to support the Rainbow community. This was launched during Pride celebrations in February last year, with an email to all staff from General Manager Al Monro launching the committee and explaining the strategy.
GHD’s Rainbow Committee is now in the second year of this strategy, with a focus on increasing engagement through celebrating a number of LGBTQI+ events, including Pride, International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, and Wear It Purple Day.
As well as participating in supportive events, GHD is also making changes with day-to-day improvements for LGBTQI+ staff members. The company has changed its parental leave policies to incorporate same sex couples and has introduced a new policy for staff members undergoing gender transitions. GHD is also launching a Rainbow Allies network this year, a group of people with whom anyone can discuss issues around Rainbow inclusivity, and is working towards gaining the Rainbow Tick.
Sarah Mason, GHD’s Marketing and Communications Manager, says, “Whether part of the Rainbow community or not, our people have benefitted from the more inclusive environment our Rainbow Committee has created.” This has been evident for the company both for existing staff and in the competition for new hires.
GHD’s support of the LGBTQI+ community has been positive for Diane Gavin, whose daughter is a part of the community: “It has made me feel supported, knowing my colleagues are being educated around some of the challenges members of this community face daily.”
Project engineer Heather Riches says, “I have close family who are part of the LGBTQI+ community, and I understand the challenges they, and their families can face on a daily basis. Working somewhere where I know I can openly talk about my family, without any concern, is really important to me. I want to be able to bring my whole self to work, and my family and friends are an important part of that."