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.

I’ve called Singapore home for the last 12 months as part of the APAC Young Professionals Exchange Program. Living and working in Singapore has made me realize how fundamental a diverse and ‘balanced’ workplace is in the making and operation of a successful business. A diverse workforce equates to a wider range of perspectives and opinions as a result of various life experiences. I believe that a diversified workforce also has the power to challenge gender stereotypes.

While some progress is being made, we are still a long way from achieving gender diversity and equity in the workplace. The United Nations has identified achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls as one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by 2030, which together forms a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. We need to continue the push for a more progressive mindset, more inclusive cultures and intentional, measured actions that target gender balance.

AECOM Australia recently received its sixth Employer of Choice for Gender Equality citation from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency in recognition for its commitment to tackling gender imbalance. As a company, we are making bold steps towards achieving gender equality through initiatives such as targeting a gender equal graduate intake by 2020 and by having more women in executive leadership roles.

I recently saw a photo on LinkedIn captioned, “Well done team on a great day of training”. The photo showed a team of 14 men sitting behind their laptops. My immediate reaction was the obvious lack of women on the team. While reading the photo’s comments, I found my sentiments echoed. Nearly all of the comments were calling out the obvious gender imbalance of the team and mentioning that perhaps adding more diverse members to the team was something they could work toward.

As a society, I am confident that we are more aware of the current gender imbalance in the workplace. While we have done a solid job raising awareness of the issue, the next important steps implementing change. It’s time for business leaders to turn their promises and targets into reality and achievements.

At AECOM, I am grateful to be surrounded by a number of inspiring women. As leaders, managers, mentors and colleagues, I am supported by these women through their investment in my professional and personal development. Through my experience at the company, I am confident that AECOM is a place that is continuously striving for gender balance – and my mentors inspire my belief that as a woman working at AECOM, I will be given the same opportunities to perform and succeed as my male colleagues.

Gender balance isn’t a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. In my experience, it’s often an unconscious or unintentional bias which then forms an unintended and often invisible barrier to equal opportunity. The campaign theme for International Women’s Day 2019 is #BalanceforBetter. To all reading this, I hope that you will celebrate this year with a commitment to personally get involved in this campaign. You can do this by challenging your own unconscious bias and by calling out gender imbalance when you see it, because balance drives a better working world!

Originally published 03.7.2019

Author: Alice Thurgood