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AECOM’s female graduates jump by 18% in bid to create more diverse workforce

A five-year programme aimed at ensuring a more balanced gender mix has proved fruitful for the international infrastructure firm AECOM after it revealed 43% of the 359 graduates joining them are female.

The figure stands way above the industry average of 26% recorded by the High Fliers UK Graduate Careers Survey 2018 and represents a substantial improvement on its gender split five years ago, which was just 25%.

It marks a milestone moment for the firm after it launched a long-term initiative to build a more diverse workforce and help address the gender imbalance that exists across the built environment sector.

The company’s 2018 gender split is a 13% increase from its 2017 graduate intake and marks an 18% improvement since the inception of its diversity programme in 2014.

Through the programme, bosses say the company has changed the way it promotes its graduate vacancies to help attract more female applicants. This includes rebranding its graduate marketing materials by changing language, tone, colour and content based on research around how female applicants behave and what they look for.

David Barwell, chief executive for UK & Ireland, said: the firm realised years ago that a change of mindset was needed if AECOM was going to be able to attract and retain the best female talent and people from a range of backgrounds.

"The ability to draw on the skills of a diverse range of people from a variety of different backgrounds is vital to our success as a business and the projects we deliver."
David Barwell, AECOM chief executive, UK & Ireland.

He added: “Our 2018 graduate gender split is the latest year-on-year improvement we’ve achieved in the UK and Ireland and we won’t stop until we are satisfied our workforce represents the communities we serve. The graduates joining us this year will have meaningful roles on a range of vital, complex and innovative projects, and none of this work is gender specific. With the built environment sector facing a persistent gender imbalance, taking our profession to the people the industry needs to reach rather than expecting them to find us is key.”

AECOM’s graduate diversity programme is one of a number of strategies the company has put in place to help it build a more diverse workforce. Other initiatives include attracting more female apprentices and working with schools to help encourage young people, and girls in particular, into technical professions. The company’s returner programme, launched earlier this year, is designed to support women and men from a range of backgrounds back into the workplace following career breaks.