How Mott Macdonald is advancing LBGT+
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Hannah Bishop, administrative assistant, and Tom Dodson, junior management consultant, both work as Advancing LGBT+ co-champions in Mott Macdonald. They explain why companies need to work together to promote the inclusion of LGBT+ staff.
Many firms are now well on their way towards promoting the inclusion of LGBT+ staff within their business.
But to drive real change in both the engineering sector and in wider society, we can't ignore the importance of inter-firm collaboration. When something becomes a focus for multiple companies, others are more likely to get on board.
For the past three years, Mott MacDonald has marched at several national pride events, walking alongside industry peers under the banner of ‘#BuildingEquality’. While this visible display of support for LGBT+ rights is only a small part of the work Building Equality is trying to do, it is an important one. To see the company who LGBT+ people work for being willing to stand up and show support for them, and others in the LGBT+ community, gives them more confidence that internal change is happening.
An internal survey at Mott MacDonald conducted in 2016 found that many LGBT staff had experienced discrimination during the last 12 months. It also found that, when compared to their straight counterparts, significantly more LGBT staff did not feel included in the business. Advancing LGBT+, one strand of Mott MacDonald’s internal equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) network, are working to change that. Our work with the EDI team is underpinned by four key aims:
- Engaging all staff on LGBT+ inclusion
- Ensuring LGBT+ inclusion is embedded in Mott MacDonald’s policies and workplace culture
- Supporting LGBT+ staff in career development and achieving their potential
- Engaging with industry peers.
We take a multi-faceted approach to LGBT+ inclusion, acknowledging that a range of connected actions are needed to implement effective improvements within the company.
Continuous, open dialogue is incredibly important. An initiative which has been well received across the whole Advance network has been the implementation of a reverse mentoring programme. The aim of this was to encourage two-way dialogue between junior staff and management from across the group, helping both individuals to develop and grow.
Engagement from colleagues
The initiative highlights something which we have found to be invaluable to advancing LGBT+ inclusion: engagement from straight and cisgender colleagues. Talking to individuals who may not have personal experience of the positive impact of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) initiatives on staff wellbeing is a key step in increasing widespread support for those initiatives. An excellent example of something Advancing LGBT+ have done in this area is a toolkit launched to mark International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOTB) in May of 2018.
Titled “Spotlight on LGBT+ Advocacy”, this toolkit was geared towards helping allies to join the conversation about LGBT+ inclusion. We found some people struggle to get involved due to a fear of saying the wrong thing. The toolkit provided ten tips to help overcome that fear, along with a short glossary of terms, equipping staff with the language they need to feel confident having those important conversations. We also supplemented the launch of this toolkit with informal drop-in sessions during pride season and LGBT+ History Month – giving staff a safe space to engage with and ask questions about LGBT+ identities.
A key network focus for the last two years has been on trans inclusion – increasing understanding and acceptance of trans and non-binary identities within Mott MacDonald. We hope that the government consultation on the Gender Recognition Act (2004) will have brought conversations about trans inclusion to the forefront of people’s minds.
Moving through 2019, we as a network will continue to influence internal policies and provisions to support all staff from LGBT+ backgrounds. However, we are committed to working collaboratively with our industry peers to support this agenda on a larger scale. We want to create real change both internally at Mott Macdonald and throughout the sector as a whole, and welcome any peers who wish to support this initiative.