D&I – Interview with Amanda White, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion
by RES | Jul 04, 2022 | Reading time: 4 min
We spoke with Amanda White, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at RES about some of the work that goes on behind the scenes to promote a more diverse and inclusive culture and some of the successes to date.
Amanda joined RES five years ago as an HR Manager and given her experience, passion and advocacy for inclusion and equitable opportunities for all, her forward-thinking characteristics make her the perfect candidate for the newly formed role of Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion. A role created to demonstrate RES’s commitment to embedding Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) in the organisation.
When asked about the company culture at RES, Amanda explains, “everything related to D&I is recognised and supported at a high level and the company feels strongly about and has worked hard to ingrain diversity and inclusion within its culture.”
“A commitment to inclusive leadership at the senior-most level is fundamental to ensuring that D&I is a sustained part of the culture and RES’ business. Although senior leadership sets the tone and leads from the front, inclusive leadership should be cultivated at all levels throughout RES.”
Amanda works across all markets to influence, shape and implement the RESpect strategy. “Our RESpect strategy underpins our efforts to become an organisation that embraces D&I at the core of our business. A diverse and inclusive culture has significant positive benefits for our company, for individuals and society.”
As part of the RESpect Strategy and the company’s commitment to embrace diversity and create an inclusive culture, Amanda supports five Affinity Networks which include gender, race, disability, age, and sexual orientation and gender identity.
Amanda shared her thoughts with us about the Affinity Networks, and how these groups of people from across RES are all united in their passion for making our workplace more inclusive. “They do this by building a common understanding of different challenges and barriers that under-represented groups may experience, and work to address these.”
“The sheer organic growth of the Affinity Networks has inspired the creation of my new D&I role, mainly because they have grown exponentially and encouraged open, effective and inclusive discussion across the organisation and our teams. Diversity and inclusion is actively acknowledged as an important part of how the company functions and directly contributes to recruitment, retention and internal culture. To attract and keep the best people, we have to be the best place to work!”
Amanda very much sees her role as a visible leader of D&I, and she explained to us that she will be working closely with country CEOs/MDs, HR, Affinity Network Groups, and accountable lead managers across all regions. This is in addition to working closely with our external consultants to maintain the significant number of successes that have been achieved in less than two years.
“Some examples of changes implemented in RES include our new menopause guidance – initiated by our Age network – and the enhanced gender-neutral parental leave policy.”
“Last October, the Disability network raised awareness and encouraged open discussions about mental health by scheduling a number of activities for World Mental Health Day. Highlights included promoting exercise to improve mental health, hosting a global Change the Conversation event and sharing weekly mental health tips. The network has also been progressing work to improve accessibility (physical and technological) for all RES employees by implementing an accessibility tool that will be used to check the accessibility of our corporate and project websites as well as ensuring accessibility at all our RES office locations.
“Another great example includes our Race network who created “Fearless exchange”, a platform to encourage network members to share their stories and experiences freely and start discussions with others. The network has raised awareness by promoting cultural events, such as Ramadan and Holi festival and awareness around Black History month, and are currently piloting a reverse mentoring scheme.”
“As an extension of this good work, RES’ LGBTQ+ network has been educating and raising awareness, both internally and externally. In June of last year, RES changed its corporate branding to show our support for the LGBTQ+ community during Pride month, including a well adopted Teams background. The network has also raised awareness of Pronouns, IDAHOBIT Day (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia), Wear it Purple, Bisexuality Day and supported a business coalition to support the US Equality Act. Formal support for gender affirmation has been implemented in Australia and the UK. These are some examples of activities that have taken place and been implemented in RES recently.”
“All of our networks have achieved so much, and we will continue our hard work to ensure that we maintain our inclusive culture, promoting diversity and inclusion for all.”
Amanda explains, “RES Australia, in particular, have seen some big wins with recent internal policy changes. So far, we have implemented a Gender Affirmation Policy, a Guide for Workplace Allies, Parental Leave Policy and Floating Public Holidays – allowing employees to substitute a recognised public holiday for a different day, for cultural or religious purposes.
“We’ve received some great feedback from the above initiatives, with some recent hires referencing the promotion of these inclusive policies as a major contributing factor in applying for their role at RES.”
“Attracting and engaging the best talent in a global candidate tight market and being seen as a D&I leader is a market differentiator and an enabler of RES’s future success. With regards to talent pipelines, Gen Z and Millennials are seeking purpose-driven companies. Opportunities to improve and innovate recruitment and selection techniques and provide education on unconscious bias, anti-discrimination, barriers that women face in male dominated industries and how it can affect their performance at interview, and a focus on potential and transferable skills is key to driving our commitment forward.”
A further challenge is to understand that D&I can be disruptive and uncomfortable, and Amanda hopes to encourage a safe place to allow people to start their transformational journey at their own pace, and become advocates for D&I.
A Personal Journey
When asked about what people might be interested to know about her, Amanda says, “I grew up in Scotland and I’ve been fortunate to live and work across Europe, including a five-year stint in Switzerland and a further five years in France, before moving to Australia in 2014 due to my husband’s job. This is where we reside now, with our two children, Sophie (13) and Harry (12), plus our two cats, Lenny and George.
“Although my new role is part of my professional journey, this will also be a personal journey for me. D&I is my passion due to my own lived experiences and I will always advocate for kindness, respect, and understanding.”