- We are proud to be a Disability Confident Employer. Under the Disability Confident Scheme we are committed to interview candidates that meet the minimum criteria for a role if they are covered by the Equality Act 2010 and opt in during the application process. Sweco is also a member of the Business Disability Forum, which gives us access to auditing activities designed to help our colleagues identify gaps against the assessment criteria for Disability Confident – and offer guidance on best practice.
- Learning & Development isn’t just a box we tick. We’re committed to developing talent and future-proofing your skills. Our approach allows you to learn-on-the-job and take advantage of all the support and education available to grow and stretch yourself, not just once but every single day. We nurture our #SwecoDifferenceMakers through an accessible digital learning platform, People@Sweco, as well as industry-leading talent development programmes and a structured, holistic approach to on-the-job learning.
- As signatories of the Armed Forces Covenant, we join many of our clients and partners who have also pledged their commitment to support the members of the Armed Forces, by ensuring that these individuals and their families are treated fairly in the workplace and are fully integrated into the wider community. We are proud to be a forces-friendly consultancy and reinforce the value we place on the skills and expertise talented service personnel have developed in their military careers, which vastly enrich Sweco’s diverse culture.
- We have policies in place to help eliminate salary disparities for identical or equivalent work. Gender equality is a fundamental priority in Sweco’s Code of Conduct and sustainability mission, with a particular focus on the UN’s 5th Sustainable Development Goal.
- Flexible working is key to inclusivity at Sweco, and we are committed to providing adaptive working arrangements that are aligned to the needs and objectives of all our people – particularly our working parents and colleagues who require flexibility to not only manage neurodiversity but maximise its potential.
“Dyslexia isn’t a disability, it’s a different ability”
People with dyslexia are well suited to roles in engineering and consultancy as they often excel in areas such as complex problem solving, creativity, critical thinking, people management, and spatial visualisation. Sweco strives to build an open and inclusive culture, enabling colleagues to focus on their strengths. As a Disability Confident Employer, Sweco encourages employees with challenges such as dyslexia to make an assessment of reasonable adjustments that can be put in place during the recruitment and selection process.
Here, Megha Nagendra Wells, Technical Director, Energy Water and Environment, shares her experience of Dyslexia.
“I found out that I ‘have’ Dyslexia quite late – it was when I did my Master’s degree in UK when I was first diagnosed. Until then I just thought I was stupid. I went through all my childhood thinking I must be stupid. And the reason for this is that in school, we used to have exams and that is what I struggled with the most. I was a great learner when there were lessons and people talked to me and I absorbed all that knowledge. When it came to written tasks, that is when I struggled the most.”
I believe Dyslexia has had a really positive impact on my life – and this is what I want to scream and shout about! I love to champion something called Dyslexic Thinking on LinkedIn. For others who think they cannot be leaders because of Dyslexia, this platform highlights amazing content and insights that prove you can!
I am so happy that Sweco as a business creates more awareness around dyslexia. Dyslexia isn’t a disability, it’s a different ability….it is scientifically proven that dyslexic people think in a different way and we are great problem solvers. That’s how I look at it. And when I speak to others within our business, I’m quite vocal about it. Because they need to identify their strengths. It’s not a weakness, and this neurodiversity is a strength that we need to celebrate.
Sweco has been great and I have to give a big shout out to my line manager Stewart Craigie because he has been super supportive, because yes I do things slightly differently in terms of how I structure my day and work. But that has never been an issue. The support from my manager and team members has made me feel instantly accepted. That proves that we really want to have a diverse work force and we are willing to support.”
The starting point for meaningful inclusivity is not to try and do everything at once. You need to take steps – incremental steps. Nobody’s perfect. We’re all trying to navigate our way through our own experiences, but at the same time trying to understand the experiences of others.
Brian Recehere Divisional Manager for Transport & Urbanisation – and Diversity & Inclusion Sponsor for our UK Leadership team
“I’m proud to be an AuDHD oxymoron.”
Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neurodevelopmental conditions. Autism is equally prevalent. Both are often addressed in conversations around inclusion and accessibility – but what happens when both affect you at the same time? Here, Graduate Carbon Consultant Joseph MacNamara explores the paradox of being ‘AuDHD’…
“Not long ago, coincidentally around Neurodiversity Celebration Week, Everything Everywhere All At Once swept the Oscars. This was apt, not only as Evelyn Wong was coded with undiagnosed ADHD, but because the film so perfectly told the story of what it is like to be ADHD.
I say ‘be’ because unlike an injury or a sickness where it is easy to comprehend life beyond the impairment, I cannot comprehend not thinking in an ADHD way, seeing the world through the wall of noise, where you can pick up the smallest sensory change in the distance but not hear the person sat next to you, when you’re so distracted you can escape to other universes inside your mind. When the sensory input is absolutely Everything. Everywhere. All. At. Once.
ADHD is characterised by numerous differences in brain structure, some subtle, others less so. In the ADHD brain there is dysregulation of the dopamine system, which affects motivation, and a weaker pre-frontal cortex, which controls executive functions, decision making, and working memory. On the flip side, the Default Mode Network is more active in the ADHD brain, which is thought to be involved in self-awareness, consciousness, mental imagery, and social cognition – such as understanding the mental states of others.
Here’s the interesting addition to the mix. I am also Autistic, and so the sensory overload of Everything. Everywhere. All. At. Once. has become my biggest challenge yet. How can you find strategies that work when ADHD requires novelty and constant stimulation but autism requires the opposite?
There is a saying that if you meet one ‘neurotypical’ you’ve met them all, but if you’ve met one autistic, you’ve met one autistic. Where the neurotypical brain will develop within the context of a culture it is in, leading to similarities across a culture, the autistic brain will develop vastly differently depending on the environment it is in. As a result, no autistic person is the same. I’m still learning about my own autistic traits and have a lot more to unmask even from myself, but there are some commonalities across the board.
Firstly, we are not broken. Whilst some traits of ADHD and Autism are disabling and will always be disabling, so many other traits are only disabling when they do not conform to societal expectations of behaviour. Some of us can hide these traits and conform to these expectations – by masking – but this takes significant energy. Often, we do this unconsciously as a survival mechanism, but this is unsustainable and cause us to burnout – a large factor as to why only 16 percent of autistics are in full time employment and making difference-making contributions in organisations like Sweco.
“Everyone is welcome.”
Back in February, Sweco launched a dedicated LGBT+ and Allies Group – Thrive@Sweco. Here, one of Thrive’s co-founding members, Senior Transport Planning Consultant Adam Molyneux offers his views on why inclusive networks matter so much in the workplace.
“Work is a place where we spend a lot, if not most, of our time. It can be a place where many of our lasting relationships begin, and flourish.
Research shows that LGBT+ people who feel able to bring their authentic self to work have improved mental health, leading to increased energy, better performance and stronger relationships with their peers.
But…1 in 5 LGBT+ people aren’t out at work. At Sweco, we currently only have 22 colleagues who have stated they are not heterosexual, but 840 colleagues who would prefer not to say. While of course not all of these will identify as LGBT+, it is safe to assume that some of them do.
Having to put up a façade, to feel more comfortable and accepted, is exhausting and overwhelming, and results in all kinds of negative outcomes for the individual and the business. Creating a safe place – our forum – to share individuality and hear other people’s stories is therefore essential. It will provide a space for employees to support each other, feel less isolated, express concerns they may have, and meet like-minded colleagues away from their daily tasks.
With all this in mind, I am really proud to be one of the founding members of the new LGBT+ & Allies group at Sweco. While our community has always stretched across the business and its multitude of teams, we were excited to officially launch a dedicated forum in February as we celebrate LGBT+ History Month.
Everyone is welcome. An employee does not have to identify as LGBT+ to join the group, and can join as an ally. Personally I think that is where the strength of the group will actually be harnessed.
“It’s about making the right words count.”
We all have our unconscious biases which lead us to make quick judgments or assessments about people based on characteristics such as race, gender, or appearance. Here, Early Years Coordinator at Sweco Rav Kaur looks at how we can all promote the simple act of inclusion.
“Where are you from?” he asked incredibly politely and when I responded with “Leicester” (which is where I was born and bred), he used his hand, to gesture that all too familiar a swirl over his head. He was referring to my turban.
“No, I mean where are you really from?”
My colleague was intrigued to know about my background and my ancestral home, which I love, but his intrigue led him to make a gesture and use language that whilst I had become accustomed to, was highly inappropriate and laced with unconscious bias.
It’s unfortunate that our lives are often influenced by stereotypes and unconscious bias. Much of the way we see the world is ingrained in us from a young age. Our brains are wired to make quick judgments based on associations that we may not even be aware of. It’s important to be mindful of this and work towards breaking down these biases
I didn’t call out my colleague in the moment. I simply responded saying “Ah, my ancestry hails from Northern India, Punjab…” and the conversation continued. I’m sure he would have been mortified, that his words were upsetting despite them being led by curiosity.
It is so important for us to understand that despite the intent, the impact of the words we use can still be incredibly hurtful and divisive.
Ignoring ‘clumsy’ language or excusing it as a lack of intent to cause upset, perpetuates discrimination and can even lead to alienation. It’s crucial for each of us, as individuals, colleagues, friends and allies to actively address these situations, head on. Addressing it in the workplace is a shared responsibility, bystander intervention is crucial to empowering colleagues to raise concerns and challenge any non-inclusive behaviours they witness, even when they are not directly involved.
In our corporate world, innovation and collaboration drive success, meaning that a diverse and inclusive workplace is not just a moral imperative but a strategic necessity.
Open dialogue about diversity, equity, and inclusion is essential. By creating an environment where colleagues feel safe discussing their experiences and concerns, we can create awareness and promote empathy amongst us all.
I love that my appearance, my colour and turban bring so much intrigue, I love even more, that those around me want to know more – I want to know more about YOU too. Recognising our biases should never stunt our quest to learn more, in fact, it should empower us to engage in more meaningful conversations where we REALLY learn more about each other.”