What you don’t change, you choose: Leo Quinn discusses the importance of listening and understanding different perspectives during National Inclusion Week
Last week, I met with some of the co-chairs from Balfour Beatty’s five employee-led Affinity Networks – Ability, Gender, LGBTQ+, Multicultural and Neurodiversity – in advance of National Inclusion Week.
It was an enlightening and engaging session, which brought home to me the importance of taking the time to listen and understand different perspectives. The co-chairs shared their own personal stories and experience of working at Balfour Beatty and naturally - and rightly - took the opportunity to tell it like it is.
Their suggestions were practical and thoughtful, and off the back of the session, I will be taking firm action to ensure that we embed new initiatives and promote practices that will support us on our journey to becoming a truly diverse and inclusive business. I wanted to share some of the key outputs and highlights from the session.
In terms of Ability, our Viking Link project – where we’re connecting the British and Danish power grids – is leading the way in providing accessible desks, automated doors, and level access for our employees. I will personally be looking at how we roll this out more widely, to ensure that we have accessible and inclusive workplaces across all our offices and sites.
We’ll also be looking at how we can improve our welfare facilities to ensure that our sites have access to period products and sanitary bins. This follows the success of our partnership with Hey Girls, an organisation which aims to eradicate period poverty in the UK, which has seen us introduce sanitary products for employees and visitors, free of charge.
The co-chairs of our LGBTQ+ Affinity Network described the importance of showing visible leadership, drawing the link between the small but important actions I can take as a leader to help our colleagues feel psychologically safe at work. Off the back of our conversation, I will now be wearing a rainbow lanyard with pride and will be encouraging others to do the same.
At Balfour Beatty, we strive to create a workplace which is reflective of the communities we serve. Of course, every site is different and not one size fits all, but I will be working closely with the Multicultural Affinity Network, to understand how we can improve our approach across all of our operations, such as establishing multifaith rooms where colleagues can go to pray during the day.
And finally. Did you know that one in seven people are neurodiverse? I didn’t until last week. These statistics demonstrate the importance of introducing small changes that can make all the difference to our neurodiverse colleagues from reading pens through to noise cancelling headphones. While the help is already there, there is without doubt more we should and could be doing to make these tools more accessible and we’ll be looking at this as a priority.
The power of our Affinity Networks is the opportunity they create for our colleagues to lean in and make our company an even better place to work. That is why during National Inclusion Week, I’ll be encouraging everyone at Balfour Beatty to take action and make an impact. At the end of the day, what you don’t change, you choose.
Leo Quinn, Balfour Beatty Group Chief Executive