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AECOM reinforces its commitment to forging an inclusive workplace

AECOM reinforces its commitment to forging an inclusive workplace

 December 16, 2021

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National Inclusion Week in the UK is designed to celebrate everyday inclusion in all its forms and to encourage people to think about how they can be more inclusive in their day-to-day lives.

AECOM shares how it celebrated National Inclusion Week - and extended their focus to include Europe Inclusion Week.

AECOM marks Inclusion Week across Europe

“Internally we have been referring to ‘National Inclusion Week’ as ‘Europe Inclusion Week’ as we wanted to extend it out to our colleagues in Europe, as well as those in the UK and Ireland. We have found that ‘Europe Inclusion Week’ has really resonated with our colleagues throughout the Europe region,” explains Jen Fryer, Talent Management Specialist.

“The theme of Europe Inclusion Week for 2021 is about unity and taking action to be #UnitedForInclusion. By coming together, we can better understand the differences we all face and offer practical solutions to address and overcome those individual challenges. By working in unity, we will move towards our goal of making inclusion an everyday reality,” adds Rachel Billington, Head of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (ED&I) in Europe & India.

Hosting an important early careers webinar

AECOM kicked off Europe Inclusion Week with an Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (ED&I) webinar for its graduate and apprentice population across the Europe region. The webinar was part of AECOM’s ADVANCE early careers development programme monthly webinar series. It was delivered by Rachel and Jen and started with an ‘Inclusion Moment’ aimed at getting to the heart of understanding ED&I.

This involved several polling questions and discussion on a range of topics including:

  • What does equity mean to you?
  • What does diversity mean to you?
  • What does inclusion mean to you?

“Feeling included is key to feeling like you can bring your whole self to work and thrive, and the picture below shows the responses from the early careers participants on what makes them feel included,” says Jen.

AECOM inclusion
Responses from participants on the ED&I webinar on what makes them feel included

Rachel and Jen also shared AECOM’s ED&I strategy and priorities for the coming year and discussed how they plan to turn this strategic vision into a reality and lasting legacy. One priority Rachel highlighted is AECOM’s Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) which help to ensure that all voices are heard at AECOM.

“AECOM currently has two ERGs, our Ethnic Diversity Network and also our Pride Europe group, and we are hoping to go live with our Gender ERG next year,” explains Rachel.  

The second half of the webinar featured a live panel discussion with three AECOM colleagues from across Europe: Gemela Brown, Trainee Technician in Transport Planning, Laura Passiou, Infrastructures Project Manager, and Lucy Bradbury, Sustainability Manager and Pride Europe ERG Business Sponsor. The panel shared their thoughts on why they think ED&I is important at AECOM, what one piece of advice they would give others to help them advance their learning of ED&I, and whether they have noticed a change at AECOM in terms of ED&I. 

Lucy shared an example of when she felt included: “I am going to talk about pronouns. I love the fact that more and more people are putting their pronouns on emails and slides, and when we kick-off meetings we go around and say, ‘I am Lucy Bradbury and I use She and Her.’ This really makes me feel included, and I think there is almost an element of implied allyship when people are doing this.”

AECOM diversity webinar
Gemela shared her advice on how individuals can advance their learning of ED&I during the webinar

Gemela shared her advice on how individuals can look to advance their learning of ED&I: “Be open to learn and listen to other people sharing their experiences, even if it isn’t easy for you to relate to and understand. And get involved with things going on in AECOM, such as join an ERG, as this is a great way to hear about other people’s experiences and have conversations that you might not otherwise have.”

Hosting a 'United for Inclusion' webinar 

AECOM also ran a United for Inclusion training event. The session started with a discussion around how to create psychological safety, and then Rachel delivered training on microaggressions – what they are, how they can affect people and how to avoid committing them. 

AECOM inclusive
Opening slide for the United for Inclusion training event

Njemile Faustin, Principal Geotechnical Engineer, shared an example of a microaggression she has experienced: “My example relates to alcohol consumption. Culturally many of us enjoy a glass of champagne or wine or beer to celebrate or wind-down at the end of the week. But some of us may not and offering such alcoholic drinks directly can sometimes make us feel excluded. So, it is always beneficial to offer a non-alcoholic drink in the first offering. This will make everyone feel included.” 

AECOM engineer
Njemile is passionate about inclusion

Rachel then discussed what we can do about microaggressions and highlighted that it doesn’t necessarily need to be the person on the receiving end who deals with it: We can all be an ally and call it out. Njemile also made a request to everyone on the call: “that we all make a conscious effort to be aware of our actions, because sometimes it is just the small things that are said which can make others feel excluded.”

The second half of the event was a panel discussion featuring members of the Europe Executive Leadership Team exploring what more needs to be done to advance ED&I in AECOM and the industry. When asked why inclusion is important to AECOM, Jo Streeten, Head of Programme, Project and Cost Management, shared her thoughts: “We need to listen to every voice to find the answers in order to solve the world’s most complex issues and challenges.” 

AECOM leaders
Senior Leaders shared their thoughts and experiences on the United for Inclusion training event 

Jo Atkinson, HR Director for Europe & India, shared her thoughts on the United for Inclusion training event: “What I love about the Europe region is the diversity it brings. Our teams don’t all look the same, sound the same or think the same and this is what makes it great. But we also still have a lot to learn from each other. It was great to hear from some of our leaders during our United for Inclusion panel discussion – so refreshing to hear different perspectives on inclusion and personal stories. We even started exploring microaggressions in the workplace! Being curious, asking the questions, inviting others in, showing an interest and above all else, listening...this is what unity is about for me and something that is part of our One Europe strategy.”

When have you felt included?

Throughout the week AECOM also ran a campaign on their internal communications network, Yammer. The campaign asked colleagues to share a personal experience on a time when they have felt included: “I feel included when I can “just be myself” on a work night out!” shared Karen Britton, Europe Strategic Programme Manager.

AECOM equality
Karen feeling included on a work night out

“I feel included when someone asks my opinion,” says Jo Hughes, Director, People, Profile and Excellence.

“I felt included when the AECOM Europe Ethics Community Group moved the scheduled meetings from a Friday to a Thursday to allow me to be involved. With agile working I don’t work on Fridays so I can spend a day to be a Mum and do the school runs. I was impressed that the Group wanted my diversity in the group and valued my input,” shares Becky Jackson, Technical Director.

Inclusion Week AECOM
During Europe Inclusion Week Becky shared when she has felt included

“When working in the office music helps me concentrate. I feel included when I have the freedom to use headphones,” explains Laura Taburet, HR Generalist for Spain and Sweden. 

Personal pronouns

Finally, to drive forward inclusion AECOM is encouraging its employees in Europe to add their pronouns to their email signature. “Adding pronouns to email signatures encourages awareness, acceptance and inclusion of all gender identities, and can help trans and non-binary colleagues feel more included and visible. This small act can help our colleagues feel safe to be themselves in the workplace. And when we feel free to be ourselves, we thrive,” says Rachel.

AECOM’s ED&I journey continues

Following Inclusion Week, AECOM marked Black History Month and hosted a great programme of activities throughout the month to show its support and recognition.

Forge a career an an inclusive company

If you would like to work for an company that places ED&I at the heart of what it does and help continue its ED&I journey, then apply for a fabulous career with AECOM


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