Inclusion and Diversity – A Champion for Change
As Jacobs aims to drive company and industry-wide change and create a more connected and inclusive world, we talk to Inclusion and Diversity (I&D) Lead Sam Daly about her journey to becoming an Equality and Inclusion Champion, her role, and her hopes for the future.
Working with Jacobs’ Buildings and Infrastructure and Advanced Facilities line of business, Sam’s role is diverse and impactful – from helping clients with their I&D goals and strategies, looking at how Jacobs can share best practice with clients and partners, and learn from other organizations, through helping to support contractual requirements on I&D and procurement practices.
Being an ambassador for I&D is such an important and far-reaching role, how do you approach it without feeling overwhelmed?
I hugely enjoy being an I&D Ambassador and all the different aspects that it involves! Understanding the industry and where Jacobs is on its journey as an organization, helps to prioritize what work we need to do in which areas to continuously improve on our I&D efforts. It is essential we get the basics right as well as keeping an eye on future trends to ensure we have a well-rounded approach to I&D.
What inspired you to get involved with I&D?
At the beginning of my career, I didn’t know what I would like to do so I did Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle Test (a pattern which highlights how inspiring leaders and organizations think, act and communicate by focusing on the ‘why’) and this really drew out that my primary motivation was to help others. This led me to a lot of volunteering work such as my involvement in the careers network.
While working within our rail team on a project, I had an opportunity to develop an initiative that would deliver positive change within the team. We hosted an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) month of awareness-raising activities in 2015, and my passion and role has developed since then. That initiative has now evolved to become an annual week of activity across Jacobs.
Why is it so important for organizations to champion inclusion and diversity?
Equality is a human right; however, the fact remains that some processes and systems have been established in organizations that prevent us being inclusive, especially when we add in our conscious and unconscious biases. The business case around improved innovation, safety and financial performance of diverse organizations has been around for over five years now. However, as an industry, we are still not making the type of step changes we need to truly be equal and inclusive.
Being inclusive is not just ‘the right thing to do’, we are in an industry where we are short of the skilled resources we need to match the future pipeline of work – we must ensure that we retain all the talent we have, and we can’t do that if we exclude pockets of our employees.
In your day-to-day work, what are you most proud of?
The part of my job that I really love and am proud of, is seeing people engage with the topic where they haven’t before. When we run training in different topics around I&D, the discussions are always passionate and throw up more ideas for us to look at. Every individual has an experience of what I&D means to them and I enjoy getting to know those stories and working on ways to improve everyone’s experience of Jacobs - both in our workplace and through the projects we deliver to our clients.
What advice would you give to people who want to help promote I&D?
Inclusion and diversity is a topic that covers many different aspects, so it can be very challenging to know where to start to help and contribute. One of the first things I would suggest is to check your employer’s strategy to see what the aims and objectives are and consider what that means to you and your role, as well as to your team or project.
Participation could be as simple as filling out requests for your data, which helps your organization understand who they are attracting into the business, who they are retaining and where they need to make improvements. Find out and engage with any employee networks in your organization and reach out to any inclusion and diversity leads in your region to see how you can support.
What’s the most rewarding feedback you’ve received from your work?
The best feedback must be from the work experience program we run with the Social Mobility Foundation – a U.K. charity which aims to make a practical improvement in social mobility for young people from low-income backgrounds. We take 20 students each year – some of whom may be the first in their family to go to university – for a week’s work experience offering the chance for them to shadow some of our teams on project sites and network with colleagues from all levels of our business.
One of our students who participated in this summer’s program shared: “A massive thank you for organizing an amazing week for us, it’s been full of absolutely fantastic insight into the industry and has inspired me into civil engineering.” The opportunity to make such a big difference to these students on the first step in their engineering career is very rewarding.
You're also involved in various STEM and mentoring initiatives; how important it is to support young people as they start shaping their careers?
A career in the engineering sector is wonderfully varied but it still doesn’t have a glamourous image compared to some other professions. The opportunity to influence and educate young people on what engineering is and what some of the diverse careers might look like is both rewarding and necessary to keep the talent pipeline moving. Our Jacobs STEM ambassadors do a fantastic job of encouraging and inspiring the next generation of talent into the sector.
For more inclusion and diversity within the industry, it’s important that engineering explores beyond traditional hires. That’s why we are proud to work with organizations like the Social Mobility Foundation to help support high-achieving students from more disadvantaged backgrounds to gain valuable work experience at Jacobs.
What would you like to achieve in the future?
This change needs to be driven across all areas of diversity and inclusion. We need to work across all protected characteristics, support increased social mobility within our business and improve economic development by giving our people access to more opportunities. I’d like to see us as thought leaders, integrating inclusion and diversity at the very core of our solutions and technology business.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received in your career?
The best advice I received is to always say ‘yes’ to opportunities when they are presented. In a company as diverse as Jacobs, there are lots of opportunities to get involved in many different things – whether that is an employee network group or looking out for roles on different projects, in different geographies. There is always something new you can learn and participate in.
Sam was recently named the Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion (ENEI) Equality & Inclusion Senior Champion of the Year in the U.K.