Mechanical engineer Benjamin Anstiss talks about the support Arup gives to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) engineers.
“At Arup, we’re into our fourth year of running an LGBT network, set up by the employees, for the employees. Arup invests in diversity, but doesn’t have a full time, dedicated support team; people get involved and take on officially recognised roles on our steering committee and network groups because they believe in better for our company and our industry.
“We have a well-established gender diversity network, and when we proposed starting an LGBT one, the support from our leadership was resounding. The focus for every diversity strand is on inclusion for everyone.
“We’re now in a position where we have learnt from our own experiences in building a network, shaping policies such as parenting leave, adoption and international mobility, and from the experience of our friends in other industries (such as IBM and Ernst & Young). We’re now passing that knowledge on to other companies within the engineering and construction industry, helping them to create their own employee networks and policies.
“Arup is leading an “Equality in Construction” walking group at Pride in London on 27 June this year. This is a first for us – and, we believe, Pride – that has come about not through some sort of LGBT PR drive, but because our employees asked if we could do it.
“I know of four employees who joined Arup recently who specifically cite our dedication to championing LGBT rights as one of the overriding factors behind their choice to join the firm.
“The company also has a partnership with Stonewall as a diversity and sector champion. This has proved to be very helpful in terms of learning from the experiences of other multi-national companies in other industries, and their recent addition of transgender rights to their charter will further help break down barriers and prejudice within society.
“As NCE’s recent article pointed out, LGBT individuals regularly encounter the problem of having to ‘continuously come out’. But with every person who brings their same-sex partner to a work party, every senior role model who stands up and lets themselves be counted, this will change.
“On an anecdotal level, I know of four employees who joined Arup recently who specifically cite our dedication to championing LGBT rights as one of the overriding factors behind their choice to join the firm.
“They felt our approach meant they would be more comfortable being themselves at work. This ability to be authentic in the workplace creates an environment where everyone can thrive – think about how much energy you would have to spend considering every pronoun, every story about your weekend if you couldn’t simply be who you are with your colleagues.
“I truly believe that the most important aim of our LGBT network is to make itself redundant. If, by the end of my career, I can see graduates arrive and question why on earth we have any sort of diversity network, how such a relic has no place in our industry and our society, then we have achieved what we set out to do.”