Max Fordham named ‘Inclusion and diversity champion’ at awards

Max Fordham, diversity

Consulting-engineering practice Max Fordham has been named ‘Inclusion and diversity champion of the year’ at the 2017 Consultancy & Engineering Awards. The award recognises the organisation that has ‘diversity and inclusion at the heart of its business’ and seeks to ‘embrace the benefits of a truly diverse workforce’. They are hosted by the Association for Consultancy & Engineering (ACE).

Tamsin Tweddle (centre in picture), the senior partner who leads the practice’s work on building performance, was delighted with the win: ‘This award recognises the extent to which equality is intrinsic to the ethos of our partnership. It also promotes the ways we have recently identified opportunities to continue to improve.’

She noted that recognition of this kind helps to inspire and motivate the practice to go even further to improve diversity in the workplace.

Partner and finance-team member Samiatt Onikoyi (left) said, ‘I am really proud to be part of a practice that’s been recognised for championing diversity, and we’ve only just scratched the surface.’

Senior partner Henry Pipe (right) said, ‘A few years ago, we didn’t think we needed to do anything about diversity. Doing the right thing is at the core of our values. We expected diversity and inclusion to be the natural consequence of employing people who are deeply passionate about it. We were wrong.’

Following a query from a young, male member of the practice as to why there were so few women in senior positions, it was decided to establish a diversity group to investigate.

Tamsin Tweddle said, ‘It forced us to engage with things we hadn’t fully considered before. We learnt that many other STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) companies had found evidence that they weren’t treating people as equally as they had assumed. It was time to have a look at our own data. We were shocked by the results.’

The practice learned that female engineers were receiving higher pay raises less than half as often as male engineers.

Henry Pipe said, ‘The process introduced us to unconscious bias, as well as identifying gender bias in self-assessments for pay rises.’

The practice put a plan in place to tackle unconscious bias. ‘We trained all our assessors with methods to identify it and eliminate it,’ Pipe notes firmly. ‘We recruited a female engineer to our pay-review group, updated our self-assessment guide and — most importantly — published the data internally, in full. Our internal transparency has been a huge factor in making changes.’

Since instituting the plan, female engineers have received higher pay awards slightly more often than male engineers in the two years since the initiative commenced.

These are the first steps at Max Fordham to ensure a fairer, more equal and more welcoming workplace. It’s something they hope becomes more prevalent in the industry.

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