Walking the talk at Pride

Pride season is a great time to show support for the LGBT community but, asks Richard Chapman-Harris of Mott MacDonald, is the construction industry extending this spirit of inclusion beyond the parade itself?

Richard Chapman-Harris, head of inclusion and responsibility, Mott MacDonald.

At Mott MacDonald we are celebrating our annual Pride season which has helped me focus on what Pride means for the wider infrastructure industry. Pride is many things to many people – a protest against inequality, a parade to show the diversity in our community, an opportunity to raise visibility, a way of celebrating love, and a chance for businesses to connect with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender inclusive (LGBT+) communities. 

The latter has raised some challenges recently with a feeling that corporates are engaging superficially and are ‘pricing out’ LGBT+ charities and community groups from Pride events. While I support the engagement of the business world, this has to be backed up by what organisations do behind the scenes.  

This is how we can really support Pride and ‘walk the talk’ on LGBT+ inclusion: 

Approach Pride with a culture of collaboration: At New York Pride we marched as part of Queer Advocacy and Knowledge Exchange (QuAKE) in collaboration with several peer firms. In London, my colleagues marched as part of Building Equality, a consortium of engineering and construction businesses. Marching as part of a wider group maximises the impact you have in your industry. There is also the opportunity for large corporates to march with smaller charities and sponsor their participation. 

Leverage employment policy and culture: Pride is a great opportunity to showcase our company as an inclusive employer and attendance at Pride is backed up by our inclusive policies and processes. This is also reinforced by year-round efforts to boost inclusion. Our Advancing LGBT+ group is part of our wider Advance employee network which is sponsored by our regional general manager, and globally by our executive chair. We also have global equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) policies which include protections for all sexual orientations and gender identities, as well as training for all staff to help them tackle unconscious biases, with specific learning on LGBT+ inclusion. 

Review organisational policy to support inclusion: We are completing the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index again this year to benchmark our LGBT+ inclusion efforts and are finalising our transgender inclusion policy and processes which includes non-binary and gender non-conforming inclusion. We also collaborated with the Royal Academy of Engineering to produce videos of LGBT+ role models to raise visibility and are working on videos of internal senior LGBT+ staff. Other companies in our sector have similar initiatives in place, and together we can really change the way our industry is perceived, helping to attract a more diverse talent pool.

I commend all LGBT+ inclusive organisations supporting Pride events. I’d also ask that you ensure this is not an isolated act. Start by asking your LGBT+ staff how best to engage and support customers, clients and communities and make sure you hear a range of intersectional LGBT+ voices including transgender and non-binary representatives, the disabled LGBT+ community, and members of all ethnic minorities to get a true picture of the LGBT+ community.  

Richard Chapman-Harris, head of inclusion and responsibility, Mott MacDonald.

If you would like to contact Rob O’Connor about this, or any other story, please email roconnor@infrastructure-intelligence.com.