Home    AECOM    Insight

AECOM celebrates women while also highlighting gender issues

AECOM celebrates women while also highlighting gender issues

 June 26, 2018

 Read time

AECOM, which designs, builds, finances and operates infrastructure assets, is certainly a prime employer for women and it’s one of Fortune Magazine’s most admired companies. The company celebrates the achievements of women constantly - but no day is more opportune than International Women’s Day (IWD) which saw AECOM kick off a month-long celebration of female talent from across its global workforce. From every geography and every field of work, AECOM once again reaffirms and showcases its strong commitment to gender equality.

Although held on March 8th every year, International Women’s Day is no longer confined to just one day of celebration. Thanks to progressive employers like AECOM, the ethos and spirit of International Women’s Day remain continuously at the heart of equality, inclusion and opportunity that empowers outstanding women to reach their full potential.

When women thrive, we all thrive

For IWD 2018, AECOM’s efforts were nothing short of remarkable. This global, industry-leading company highlighted the power of ‘collaboration’, acknowledging that achieving gender parity requires everyone to work together. Individually, each person can be a positive influence — but collectively, AECOM employees can join forces to press for opportunity, inclusion and equality, and truly help women and girls achieve their ambitions. When women thrive, we all thrive - was AECOM’s impressive and engaging mantra.

To reinforce the significance of International Women’s Day, AECOM CEO Lara Poloni for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) outlined her major priorities for gender parity. Lara opened AECOM’s IWD celebrations and activities with an engaging speech stating that “We all know that diversity of thought sparks creative thinking, innovation and that gender balance leads to better results. So now, more than ever we need to take bold action to be gender inclusive.”

Furthermore, an inclusive leadership toolkit was developed and launched to help AECOM’s leaders strive in their commitment to adopting bold new ways of thinking, alongside innovative approaches, to vulnerable moments where inequalities can potentially occur in the workplace.

Read on to discover how AECOM’s International Women’s Day activities have inspired a global workforce.

AECOM pulls out all the stops for talented women in UK and Ireland  

Across the UK and Ireland, a series of exciting IWD 2018 events took place. Attended by AECOM employees and external stakeholders, the events celebrated the incredible female talent that makes AECOM a pioneering and innovative place to work. Over 300 events took place across AECOM offices and project sites, including five career-planning webinars where female leaders shared their career journeys and top tips for career progression. Five events were hosted by AECOM in Birmingham and each had a different theme, including: how to work with local schools to promote STEM careers to girls; how to manage and progress the careers of women in the engineering sector; and how to manage unconscious bias in the recruitment process.

Northern Ireland employees came together to attend a talk by Chara Clarke, founder and project co-ordinator of Giving Life Opportunities to Women (GLOW). And in Wimbledon, AECOM employees supported Dress for Success - an organisation that actively supports women through providing professional work attire for women doing job interviews or starting work as they forge their economic independence.

Coincidentally, the week of IWD coincided with National Apprentice Week in the UK, so AECOM took the opportunity for five enthusiastic apprentices to shadow a female leader for the day. When asked what they had learned, one of the apprentices commented, “Be confident, be yourself and make yourself known. Volunteer yourself for opportunities because you never know where they may lead.”

Further AECOM IWD events across the UK and Ireland saw graduates and apprentices enjoy networking lunches, and a tremendous workshop was held at Aldgate Tower in London hosted by Ice Maidens (the first all-female British military team to cross Antarctica using muscle power alone) via members Sophie Montagne and Sandy Hennis, along with talented AECOM employees, Regional Director Amy Koerbel and Senior Talent Manager, Karen Barrow. This IWD networking event focused on discussing four key topics: career progression, maintaining balance (i.e. work/life balance), leadership and teamwork.

A networking lunch celebrating 20 AECOM staff from London and the South East who were nominated for the 2018 European Women in Construction and Engineering (WICE) awards was also held. Hosted by David Barwell, AECOM’s Chief Executive for the UK&I, the lunch celebrated the impressive work of AECOM’s female employees and their WICE award nomination.

Following a fantastic response internally, with over 50 nominations and 24 finalist shortlistings, AECOM was delighted to have three overall category winners on the night: Emma Fitzgerald - Best Woman Consultant, Bryony Martin - Best Woman Quantity Surveyor and Ipek Kaymak - Best Woman in Digital Innovation.

As a campaign highlight, AECOM Associate Director, Roma Agrawal (MBE) - a pioneering campaigner for women in engineering - participated in an AECOM panel event discussing the role of women in the built environment throughout history, where she also celebrated and highlighted the publication of her book, ‘Built’ - providing complimentary copies of this marvellous book at the event.

Empowering AECOM’s female staff in the Middle East

AECOM women's day celebrations

In the Middle East, AECOM employees organised a range of activities to recognise and celebrate International Women’s Day. To increase awareness about unconscious bias, AECOM colleagues in Dubai filmed employees reading an imaginary problematic scenario regarding workplace unconscious bias, and then recording their responses to it. AECOM’s senior leaders also provided an overview of their plans about how they will continue to #PressforProgress for women’s equality throughout the year.

AECOM’s Abu Dhabi and Dubai offices hosted insightful panel discussions addressing unconscious bias and the importance of female role models - and they provided helpful examples of ways in which colleagues are pressing for gender equality within their own sphere of influence.

Additionally, AECOM Middle East held a successful charity collection for the Overseas Workers Abused Women (OWAW) organisation in Bahrain. And, in collaboration with the Philippine and Indian Embassies, AECOM colleagues in Bahrain generously donated clothing and toiletries to the OWAW charity.

Leading the way for AECOM women in India

AECOM India (Gurgaon & Bangalore) also joined the global community to celebrate IWD and hosted many different staff engagement sessions and workshops including a ‘dealing with setbacks’ workshop.

Business leaders in India pledged their support to #PressforProgress and many staff enjoyed an online quiz on the subject of “gender sensitivity”, that helped raise awareness about issues impacting women in the workplace.

Additionally, Chief Operating Officer of Global Delivery Services, Emily Gepner, held very useful presentations about choosing career goals and developing interpersonal skills. External guest, Soma Pandey, also held sessions that covered the topic of gender sensitization and unconscious bias.

A new mentoring programme for Continental Europe

In Russia, AECOM shifted its usual IWD focus from kindness, gifts and appreciation of women in general, to focus on developing and advancing more women within AECOM’s workplaces in these regions.

International Women’s Day festivities were led by AECOM Chief Executive for Continental Europe, David Whitehouse, who chose the day to announce the launch of a female mentoring scheme. As a progressive and innovative employer of women, AECOM is all too aware that women are often under-represented in the engineering sector, and may not always have access to the same career opportunities within the industry as their male counterparts.

To continue addressing these challenges across Continental Europe, AECOM’s mCircles mentoring programme provides a forum for women to discuss and share experiences in career development, and a new mentoring scheme is also available to all people managers and focuses on helping employees to always be fully inclusive.

Additionally, employees in Benelux and Nordics were invited to join a webinar interview between two AECOM leaders with an international track record: Sarah Reid, Talent Acquisition Director for EMIA and Duarte Catarino, Regional Director for AECOM’s Construction Services. They shared insightful details and advice regarding their own career paths, discussed their vision for inclusion and diversity, made comments about the importance of flexible work, and explained how they manage equality within their own rapidly expanding teams.

AECOM Africa employees #PressforProgress

AECOM employees across Africa region stepped out to celebrate and support International Women’s Day.

A special edition of the region’s internal publication, INSiGHT Africa, was distributed to more than 800 employees across the continent to mark the occasion of IWD. With a focus on IWD’s #PressforProgress campaign theme, the publication included articles that highlighted some of the important initiatives that AECOM women engage in to achieve a healthy work-life balance. The publication also called for employees to make their pledge in support of IWD and to engage in a local social responsibility initiative that collects sanitary towels for underprivileged female school pupils.

An informative ‘TED-Talk’ session was viewed across the Africa offices and the topic of "Inclusion, Exclusion, Illusion and Collusion" was discussed amongst all who attended the session.

A global workforce sharing a common theme

All-in-all, IWD 2018 proved hugely successful in engaging and celebrating AECOM’s global workforce. Not only are more employees thankful for the company’s commitment to advancing gender parity, but overall awareness about gender issues has reached every corner, of every location, in every country in which AECOM operates. As a progressive and innovative employer, AECOM continues to raise a high bar for gender equality.

To join this truly global employer where women are encouraged to thrive and prosper in their careers, search and apply for roles with AECOM today.


Find out more

Stay connected by subscribing to our monthly newsletter and following us on LinkedIn, X, Instagram and Facebook.

Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.


Join our women's careers community