In recognition of International Women’s Day on March 8, and this year’s theme, #BalanceforBetter, we are featuring stories from our leaders and employees throughout the week of March 4, describing their own approach to workplace equality and honoring inclusion and diversity.

We live and work in a multicultural and diverse society. Awareness months help us understand various cultures and the attributes that make each of us unique. It’s this embracing of differences that strengthens our inclusion muscles.

At AECOM, we are striving for an inclusive environment that values all employees and their differences. We want every person to bring their whole-selves to work each day and to contribute to their fullest. Because we know that when this happens, we unleash the best in collaboration and innovation.

I’m especially reflective of who I am and the relevance of awareness months, weeks and days, as we kick off our weeklong celebration of International Women’s Day (March 8), a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. You can follow our IWD conversation on social media under the hashtag #BalanceforBetter.

February is Black History Month and March marks Gender Equality Month, Women’s History Month, and National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Both months represent, in some regards, elements of my personal journey. These experiences are just a few examples of things that have ultimately shaped who I am today. I am a working family member, mother of two sons — one with dyslexia, which is a learning difference — and I am of a generation not too far removed from the plights of Jim Crow segregation.

For those unfamiliar with the term Jim Crow, it represents the U.S. state and local laws in effect in our recent history that enforced racial segregation. It also references a minstrel show character that gained popularity at the time — white actors would put on rags and use burnt cork to blacken their faces (a.k.a. Blackface) to present a mocking exaggeration of African-Americans as “lazy, stupid, and inherently less human, and unworthy of integration.”

Recognizing these moments in time inspires me and validates the desires of my heart — to show up for work and be respected and appreciated for the unique perspectives I bring. This includes being brought in to share my views on things ranging from a new workplace cultural initiative to advising how best to market services to a diverse customer segment.

Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) and the various activities happening locally in support of awareness months are examples of opportunities to learn, share perspectives and appreciate the experiences of others —making AECOM an employer of choice.

Stay tuned all year long for more stories that celebrates our I&D journey.

Originally published 03.4.2019

Author: Patrice Graves