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AECOMs Working Parents Webinars drive diversity & equality

AECOM's Working Parents Webinars drive diversity & equality

 May 11, 2020

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As part of International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrations, Claire Wilkinson, Senior HR Manager at AECOM, hosted webinars for working parents and caregivers. The webinars were open to everyone regardless of gender - which was fitting for the IWD theme of #EachforEqual and it being everyone’s responsibility to drive equality.

The webinars were directed at both working parents and caregivers, and anyone thinking of becoming a parent or caregiver in the future. Driving a strong Inclusion and Diversity agenda is important for AECOM and whilst AECOM has delivered some key improvements over the past few years such as the AECOM Returners program, Claire knew there was more that could be done for working parents.

Leading the way on equality

“Having returned from maternity leave myself it gives you the unique perspective of a process – what works well and what could be improved. If a small change makes it easier for someone to return to work and stay at AECOM, then I wanted to make that happen. AECOM already leads the way on equality by enhancing pay for maternity and shared parental leave equally, a crucial enabler of ensuring equality of opportunity when it comes to childcare, but I wanted to go further.”

AECOM Claire Wilkinson

Image: AECOM Senior HR Manager, Claire Wilkinson.

“When Claire told me about the working parents webinars, I thought it was a great idea,” says Michelle Mason, UK&I HR Director. “AECOM recognises that working parents bring so much value and diversity of thought to work. Diversity of thought is such a crucial enabler to innovation, as without it everyone thinks the same. It is therefore very important that as employees, working parents feel supported and don’t feel torn between choosing to have a career and also managing their home life.”

The initiatives introduced during the webinar cover all stages of the maternity and shared parental leave processes. “The webinars introduced employee and manager training which covers both the practical and human side to the processes, a comprehensive online Frequently Asked Questions resource, champions to provide guidance in the run up to leave, and buddies to provide support on an employee’s return,” explains Claire.

Claire continues to say that “I was flooded with volunteers to carry out the role of champion or buddy for those who would follow them taking a period of leave. It was great to see such enthusiasm and desire to help others at work.”

AECOM has also made a clear list by UK and Ireland office of breastfeeding/expressing facilities for employees to use should they require on their return. And the employee’s return is also supported by a return to work discussion with their line manager and clear career progression support should they wish.

Sharing tips and guidance

The webinars were also supported by six working parents who shared their own tips and guidance on how they manage their work-life balance. These included simple yet effective suggestions of shared family calendars to keep track of busy schedules, putting clothes out for the kids the night before or having a clear separation between work and family life. However, one of the resounding pieces of advice was using AECOM’s Freedom to Grow framework whose guiding principle is if it works for you, your team and your client then it works for AECOM. “Freedom to Grow empowers our employees to balance home and work commitments flexibly, whilst meeting client and team commitments. This may be a later start or earlier finish time for example. It is a great framework for all AECOM employees, but especially working parents” explains Claire.

Positive feedback received

Claire has received lots of positive feedback about the webinars. Louise Muir, Senior Health and Safety Consultant at AECOM, said “I really enjoyed the webinar. It was informative. Over and above that it really validated my thoughts and concerns as a working parent”.

Claire concludes that “having an internal network is so important – it is important to know that there are others experiencing the same challenges as you and are there if needed. The final improvement I set up is a Working Parents chatter page on our intranet. This is a place that our employees can ask questions and share their own experiences as well as top tips. It is a particularly valuable resource at the moment what with the challenges many parents are currently facing due to the coronavirus and school closures. For instance, one parent recently shared a summary complete with links of all of the celebrity home schooling sessions including Maths with Carol Vorderman and Science with Professor Brian Cox which was well received by the group.”

Join AECOM, a supportive employer

If you want to work for a business that understands the importance of family and work-life balance, consider job opportunities at AECOM. 


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