Transforming ownership of inclusion and diversity by Wood

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There’s a special kind of momentum happening at Wood.

With offices in over 60 countries, this leading consulting and engineering company is truly making an impact, guided by its purpose of creating a more sustainable world.

Encompassed within Wood’s vision is a deep commitment to nurturing inclusive environments, bringing more women into senior leadership roles, and actively working toward net-zero goals.

Lisa WoodIn September 2020, the company launched Conscious Inclusion learning, for all their employees. It’s an ambitious program, thoughtfully led by Lisa Ferrol, Wood’s President of Culture and Inclusion, and Sami Ben-Ali, Wood’s Vice President of Inclusion and Diversity.

Promoting inclusion and diversity has been embedded in Wood’s culture for many years. Wood currently has eight open and inclusive employee networks dedicated to providing a platform for their people to connect, learn, share values, and give feedback and recommendations on improvements to make the company a better place to work. In addition to the networks, Wood has been offering Unconscious Bias training to its employees for several years.

Ferrol wanted to take the success and momentum from this training, and the established employee networks, to build something different.

“I wanted to do something positive and in the affirmative,” said Ferrol. “Unconscious bias is natural, we all have it, but we can’t blame each other for this. I didn’t want to frame our program around negativity or beat people up about having these biases, but give ideas for what can be done differently." - Lisa Ferrol, Wood’s President of Culture and Inclusion

Before long, learning-centered around Conscious Inclusion was born. Its existence has been a breath of fresh air for Wood, infusing employees and company culture with new life.

“The webinar helps frame a narrative and present a story that’s more accessible so people can understand. It makes it actionable and more personable, and there’s personal accountability. It’s having a direct impact on our managing leaders.” said Ben-Ali.  - Sami Ben-Ali, Wood’s Vice President of Inclusion and Diversity.

Wood has ambitious targets for this program. The company announced its sustainability commitments earlier this year, with a goal to educate and inspire 100% of its colleagues to be inclusive every day by 2021.

Ben-Ali shared Wood’s framework of the program, the word Myriad, which extends to the expression “my role in inclusion and diversity”, driving home the importance of personal accountability. Ferrol also emphasized the significance of putting the word inclusion before diversity, as we need to be inclusive to all before being diverse.

Education, empathy, engagement

The Myriad program is centered around 3 E’s: education, empathy, and engagement and is about constantly educating oneself and others to empathize and be truly engaged in conversations and with your actions.

Since Wood’s webinar was intentionally created to be relatable, there has been an uptick in engagement, with employees investing time and energy.

Awareness sessions are held weekly, live on Microsoft Teams, with around 150-200 people attending each one. So far, roughly 19,000 team Wood employees have received the learning.

Self-paced learning and toolkits are also offered online, and being translated into multiple languages, allowing even more of Wood’s people the ability to get involved. Ferrol and Ben-Ali have noted team members accessing them multiple times, as the live employee discussion empowers the teaching to be different at each session. None of the sessions are recorded, to help those present truly feel they’re in a safe space.

Sami Ben-Ali

And it’s the creation of a safe space that has encouraged people to step out of their comfort zones and share what’s on their minds. The global pandemic and challenges of 2020 called for this type of engagement and creates attention around inclusiveness.

“Over these last months, by using empathy, conversations have become richer, more inclusive, and mature,” said Ferrol. “It has been lovely to see.”

“We’ve seen growth across our employee networks,” said Ben-Ali. “We’re hearing more success stories and team members are opening up about how they feel.”

And not only that, but the impact of the learning is already apparent.

All of Wood’s top-tier leadership have received the Conscious Inclusion learning. As of now, Ben-Ali says, they’re working hard to get 35,000 staff members trained.

As Wood blazes toward the future, its focus and commitment to people will only continue to evolve and transform the company, along with the world around it.

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