ENGINEERING DIVERSITY AWARD
STANDOUT LQBTTQIA+ INCLUSIVE WORKPLACE
“There is an excitement about the future and the effect StandOut can have, not only on Downer but on our industry as a whole… My hope is that StandOut members continue to feel recognised in our business for the excellent work they are doing to create positive change at Downer.” – Craig West, referee
Said to be a comprehensive response to a particular challenge faced by the Rainbow community, StandOut has demonstrated how something small can grow to become an incredible community. The network has gained excellent momentum, with internal and external, junior and senior endorsement.
StandOut is Downer’s community for staff identifying as LGBTTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, takatāpui, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning, asexual and others), from urban corporate offices to regional depots. Founded in May 2022, the StandOut community has operational executive support from NZ Country Manager and EGM of Transport Craig West and a governance structure including quarterly reports to Downer NZ’s executive leadership team. This means the StandOut community is not just ‘another HR initiative’ – it is rooted in the operational team itself. This governance also enables StandOut autonomy over its budget. This, plus that StandOut is organised and run by members for members, means resources are allocated where rainbow community members themselves see best.
Thanks to this independence and community focus, StandOut has achieved multiple concrete actions to drive positive change in Downer’s workplace and the wider infrastructure. Highlights include:
StandOut Forum: a February 2023 two-day in-person forum collecting Downer LGBTTQIA+ personnel from around the country to share experiences and brainstorm rainbow inclusion initiatives. The forum featured a talk by Ruby Tui, Black Fern and rainbow community member, and closed with a queer magic show to decompress from the ‘serious’ conversations and celebrate diversity. Participant reactions were overwhelmingly positive: “I’m used to being the only one, and it felt reassuring to realise that there’s community members in Downer.”
Allies Register: hosted on the publicly viewable SharePoint site, the Members and Allies Register uses a PowerBI dashboard to show self-identified rainbow support numbers by region. As of March 2023, the dashboard shows 161 community members and allies across the country. This is critical to help community members identify like-minded people in their region, from Whangārei to Dunedin.
Business-wide Active Allyship and Rainbow Education sessions: covering the ‘whys’ of acceptance and allyship, preferred pronouns, and the role of empathy. Over 230 participants have attended six sessions so far.
The resulting strong relationship with the Rainbow Tick consultant trainer we engaged led to connections between Downer’s rainbow community and those of other engineering companies such as WSP and Tonkin+Taylor. This in turn led to NZ’s first Engineering Pride Group marching in the Auckland Pride March in 2023.
Sponsorship of University of Auckland Rainbow Engineer’s Group: including hosting a morning tea on the 31st of March at Downer’s Stanley St office in Parnell, 5 minutes’ walk from the university. This demonstrates Downer’s commitment to being an accepting place for young LGBTTQIA+ engineers. This is very important as it is already hard enough to recruit young people into the industry – let alone young engineers who feel they will face difficulties because of who they are.
All this shows that, far from being a token gesture, the StandOut Community is a self-sustaining, self-organising group that will continue to drive workplace and industry inclusion, acceptance and celebration of LGBTTQIA+ identities for years to come.
Height Project Management
Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Strategy
Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Strategy