The Rainbow Tick journey.

Rainbow tick

Eliza Sutton, WSP’s Head of Transport Infrastructure and Road Safety, spoke at a Diversity Agenda lunchtime event about their journey to achieving the Rainbow Tick. Eliza discussed the importance of this for their rainbow community, the steps they went through to receiving the certification, and their focus for the future.

By achieving the Rainbow Tick, WSP has shown they accept and value people in the workplace, embracing the diversity of sexual and gender identities. They foster a supportive work environment that is accepting of peoples’ differences and benefits everybody in their organisation.

The big question is – why strive to achieve the Rainbow Tick? Well, it’s simple. It’s about cultivating a culture of inclusion and safety for all employees and making your organisation the best place to work. Being an international company, WSP recognises that diversity is a core part of what makes them successful on a global scale. Diversity and inclusion drive better business performance that is sustained over time and enables high performance through greater creativity, thought-leadership, and smart decision making. The result is better outcomes for their clients and the WSP team.

WSP’s specific diversity and inclusion focus areas include gender, Māori and Pasifika, and inclusion. Great progress has been made in the gender space, having recently closed the gender equity pay gap and the introduction of a progressive parental leave policy. They’re also increasing the representation of Māori and Pasifika through scholarships and graduate recruitment.

“Achieving the Rainbow Tick should be seen as the start of the process to change culture and demonstrate to the business and clients our commitment to inclusivity and embracing diversity.”

Eliza Sutton

WSP’s first steps of their Rainbow Tick journey were benchmarking and creating focus groups. From this, they highlighted areas which they are working through. These include staff and management training, resource availability, rainbow allies, increasing community presence, facilitating internal surveys, reporting, and improving culture across offices.

Throughout 2019, WSP focused on initial training and resources. A staff survey revealed over three-quarters of employees believe the company is excelling in diversity and inclusion. Although this is a pretty good result, Eliza acknowledged there is still the remaining 30% and that the company still has a lot of work to do.

A certification process test revealed WSP is successfully achieving the Rainbow Tick aspects of strategy and policy, staff engagement and organisational support, external engagement, organisational development and monitoring. Areas for improvement are having processes and resources in place for staff who transition gender, and increasing public sponsorship and/or supporting rainbow community events, projects, initiatives or organisations. The key steps for 2020 are ongoing training, increasing visibility, and dashboard reporting.

With 40 offices in NZ, it’s a big challenge to keep the culture consistent, which is why WSP have focused on their leaders to build understanding. Training sessions have been facilitated for managers and leaders, to help them understand the policies and how to implement them fairly and consistently. eLearning compulsory modules have also been implemented.

As Ian Blair, Managing Director of WSP New Zealand explains, “This is so much more than a box-ticking exercise. It’s our chance to make a statement of support to our team members, clients, communities and anyone interacting with us, that it’s safe for them to express their individuality and be their authentic self around us.”

A lot of great work has been done and there’s still a lot of work to do. WSP recognise the Rainbow Tick accreditation is a valuable, ongoing commitment, and they’re ready to keep travelling on the journey.

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