AECOM’s Matthew MacFarlane – Group Director, Environment – recently wrote about the importance of women’s contributions and his hopes for his own daughters’ futures.
Last month, International Women’s Day presented a fantastic opportunity to think about and celebrate the contributions of the many important women in our lives. For me, it also presents an opportunity to imagine what the working environment of the future will look like, and how my daughters’ (aged 5 and 9) career journeys will unfold. My hope is that they will enter a workforce that has changed significantly — for the better — as more organisations across more industries implement visible and meaningful change to directly improve gender equality.
I play an active role in my daughters’ development — not just dropping off and picking up, helping with homework and tucking them into bed, but ensuring I can be there for as many important events in their everyday lives as possible. Things like seeing them receive awards at assembly, participate in sporting activities, or teaching them to cook. Many of these weekly events occur during business hours, and my observation has been that women still do most of the heavy lifting in these areas! So that’s why I take advantage of the range of flexibility options offered at AECOM, like working from home and flexible start and finish times, to enable me to provide a meaningful contribution to my daughters’ development.
My hope is that more people, male and female, will embrace this way of working to ensure we can all manage our busy lives and fit in those additional things, like keeping active and healthy, studying or caring for relatives. I want my children and their peers to grow up thinking it’s totally normal for men, as well as women, to work flexibly and to play a large role in their upbringing, and to live balanced lives. Schools today do an amazing job of empowering all children, regardless of their gender, so I also want my girls to one day enter a workforce that has “caught up” with schools around gender equality, knowing without question that they have an equal opportunity to advance their careers to the extent that they desire.
But back to the here and now, I feel so privileged to work with such a diverse team in Environment, Victoria/South Australia, and I would like to acknowledge the contribution of all of the amazing women in my team. We have a strong gender balance across all classifications (including formal leadership positions) and I feel that getting this right was the turning point for becoming a high-performing team. I’m confident that by continuing the way we are going and focusing hard on our inclusive culture, we can continue to attract and retain more women, and people from diverse backgrounds, and continue to sustainably grow our business.
So, with this year’s Women’s History Month now finished, please take the time to reflect on the important difference the women in your life have made to you, but also think about what you can do now to ensure that your workplace is ready for the women of our future workforce!
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