We know that organisations that promote inclusive cultures drive performance. According to the Diversity Council of Australia’s Out At Work: From Prejudice to Pride report, employees in organisations that are highly LGBTQIA+ inclusive are twice as likely to achieve and innovate than non-inclusive cultures.
This week Engineers Australia supported the official launch of InterEngineer, a community network for LGBTQIA+ engineers and allies in the engineering profession. What started as a conversation between InterEngineer co-chair Matt Tendam at Aurecon and Justine Romanis from Engineers Australia at the World Engineers Convention in Melbourne in 2019 about what could be done has grown into a space to support LGBTQIA+ engineers and the profession in creating a safe, inclusive and diverse workplaces.
The purpose of InterEngineer is to create an inclusive profession for LGBTQIA+ individuals so they can confidently bring their true authentic self to work, thrive in their career and be the best engineer they can be. It emulates the communities already created for construction (InterBuild), insurance (InterInsure), finance (InterBank) and professional services (InterService).
Engineers Australia Board member Hurol Inan opened the launch event this week, saying “In my experience, diverse teams solve more complex problems with creative wholesome solutions because of the group's ability to bring different perspectives. But diverse teams also need safe spaces, and leadership to embrace diversity”
Taylor Cougle, an Operations Coordinator, gender diversity champion, proud transgender woman within a major infrastructure services company and a panellist at the InterEngineer launch event said that coming out to her colleagues allowed her to bloom.
“Because you can't express yourself, you hold yourself back when it comes to the workplace. I worked with the business closely on a plan to come out, and once I was able to come out, I could fully bloom and bring my A-game completely to the business without fear or favour”
“It’s all about being comfortable in the workplace and having a place where you feel ok to be yourself.” said panellist Kate Summers, WSP’s Technical Executive for Power Operations and National Professional Electrical Engineer of the Year 2020. “InterEngineer is a great initiative as it means we can bring together a strength in the community which enables us to start making a difference in the community,” she said.
InterEngineer is not just about creating a community for LGBTQIA+ engineers but also to support Engineering Workplaces to be inclusive and providing support to graduate engineers entering the workforce.
Taylor shared her experience in working with her organisation’s HR team for six months to develop a plan for coming out as transgender in the workplace: “There were no policies, procedures or mechanisms to support anyone who was gender diverse in the workplace...Since then, several other trans people have entered the business and are fully supported in their roles as well.”
Engineers Australia Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Bronwyn Evans, said to achieve a culture of inclusivity, organisations need to support and inspire those who are underrepresented.
“Initiatives such as InterEngineer serve to strengthen the engineering profession and uplift the LGBTQIA+ community,” said Dr. Evans.
“We want young people choosing a career to see engineering as a profession that will allow them to bring their true selves to work, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. That won’t happen unless organisations take meaningful and tangible steps to foster and celebrate diversity.”
There are three ways that you can get involved in InterEngineer as an LGBTQIA+ engineer or ally; follow the LinkedIn page, join the LinkedIn group and sign up the mailing list to hear about InterEngineer events. If you would like more detail on the InterEngineer initiative, please contact [email protected].