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Tue June 22 2021

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Aecom Australia achieves 50:50 gender balance in graduate intake

9 Aug 16 Aecom’s Australian business has achieved a 50:50 gender split in its graduate intake for the first time.

Lara Poloni
Lara Poloni

“Considering the low representation of women studying STEM subjects in Australia, I’m very proud of the 2017 graduate recruitment intake of 119, where we have managed to achieve a fifty-fifty gender split for the very first time – with 100% gender pay equity," said chief executive Australia & New Zealand, Lara Poloni.

The company has also reported progress towards its target of ensuring that 20% of its senor leaders are women by 2020. The number of senior female leaders - associate director and above – has been boosted by a quarter from 10% to 12.6% following a 12-month campaign. The business said that it is on track to achieve the commitment to 20% female leadership by 2020.

In addition, Aecom has reduced the gender pay gap by 3.4% across its 2,750 Australian employees.

Work in the area led to Aecom winning ‘Most outstanding company in gender diversity award’ at an Engineers Australia ceremony this week.

“I’m delighted that we have managed to increase female leaders by more than a quarter (26%) in just 12 months and, in doing so, helped to close the overall gender pay gap at Aecom,” said Poloni.

“Doubling our group of senior female leaders by 2020 was a real stretch target when we made it as part of our 2015 Gender Pay Strategy, especially in an industry with a small talent pool of senior women, but we are well on our way to achieving it. It is also important to highlight that this is not a numbers game; all employees’ progress according to our merit-based performance and rewards system, not because they are women.

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“We have had to be bolder in the market to get more than our fair share of senior female hires. In the last year we have appointed Nicole Stoddart as managing director to lead our new Construction Services business and Kate Drews and Annette Pittman as group directors of our Buildings + Places practices in Sydney and Brisbane respectively."

Across its Australian and New Zealand businesses, Aecom has run a number of programmes including training to raise awareness of unconscious bias, workplace flexibility and mentoring circles.

“Systems and policies are relatively easy to change when it’s being driven by an executive group that believe diversity and inclusion is a key enabler of our future success,” said HR director Australia & New Zealand, Helen Fraser. “However, the cultural change takes longer and can be harder to quantify. We know that we have to maintain high engagement at all levels and celebrate the right behaviours, especially amongst our people managers. We have also had to be sensitive to our female employees, who want to be valued and recognised for their capabilities, promoted on their merits and not as part of a gender equity strategy.

“Many companies have gender pay equity strategies and initiatives, but not many have committed additional salary dollars to achieve them. Aecom has allocated real money to close the pay gap identifying those who are underpaid and proactively topping-up to match their male peers, Fraser continued.

Fraser added that the company is also taking steps to create a workplace that is truly flexible and rewards people for outputs not hours on a timesheet, encouraging flexible work arrangements for all employees and adapting the performance and reward framework to support. “Although we still have a long way to go, we are confident that we are moving in the right direction and momentum is building,” she said.

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