Marking International Day for the elimination of Racial Discrimination

Today, as we mark International Day for the elimination of Racial Discrimination, Steve Helliwell, Managing Director of Balfour Beatty Living Places and Chair of the Multi-Cultural Affinity Network, shares his views on Balfour Beatty’s progress in becoming a truly diverse organisation.

At Balfour Beatty, we stand against racism in all its forms. We’re absolutely committed to creating a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture, which nurtures people of all backgrounds.

Over the years, we’ve been working hard behind the scenes to achieve meaningful, sustainable change – it’s a journey that we’re proud to be on. But as we mark International Day for the elimination of Racial Discrimination, we recognise that more must be done, particularly in light of global events over the last year which have sent shockwaves through society.

Acknowledging that we need to do more, we have taken concrete actions such as signing the Audeliss and Involve Open Letter. We committed to engaging and measuring long-term actions for black inclusion within our UK business and were the first in our industry to do so. We’re committed to continuing to lead the conversation and taking decisive action.

Our journey to becoming a truly diverse and inclusive workforce is steered by our rolling three-year Diversity and Inclusion strategy, Value Everyone, which as the Chair of our Multi-Cultural Affinity Network, I am personally dedicated to driving forward, generating a true culture shift throughout our organisation.

One of the initiatives that we have rolled out for the first time as part of our strategy, is our ‘reverse mentoring’ scheme where Senior Leaders are paired with employees to share insights into the experiences of ethnic minorities or other underrepresented groups. It has been eye-opening to see the company from their perspective. Some of these conversations aren’t easy, but they are needed; their experiences have given pause for thought and challenged us to improve our efforts in making Balfour Beatty a company where we are genuinely inclusive, respecting one another for who we are and the different perspectives we bring to the table.

I look forward to playing my part as the Chair of MCAN to encourage my colleagues to stand against racism, to challenge not just obvious racial discrimination but subtle discrimination in everyday life. These vital conversations aren’t just the right thing to do but will also help to make us a stronger and better business as we continue on our journey towards achieving our vision of a truly diverse and inclusive workforce.