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Aurecon supports #WordsAtWork – a call for inclusive language

Giam Swiegers and David Morrison AO (DCA)

01 June 2016 - Aurecon’s belief that its staff will play a key role in unlocking its future success was central to a decision to partner with the Diversity Council Australia (DCA) to ensure their latest campaign, #WordsAtWork, launched today, reaches as many companies as possible with this very important message to the workplace of today: language which cuts people out or cuts them down is unacceptable.

As a winner of the prestigious 2015 Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) Diversity Award for Mental Health in the Workplace, Aurecon’s support of inclusive leadership and inclusive language is a powerful demonstration of the progress it is making in prioritising diversity and inclusion.

“At Aurecon we work with clients and staff in regions as culturally diverse as South Africa, the Middle East, Asia and ANZ. As a global engineering and infrastructure advisory company we are committed to becoming a more innovative organisation that provides unique solutions to our clients’ challenges. This can only be achieved in a work environment where everyone can feel valued and is therefore willing to contribute. Inclusive leadership and inclusive language gets to the heart of creating diverse organisations. Our partnership on the #WordsAtWork project in particular is an example of the progress Aurecon is making with its diversity and inclusion effort,” explains Aurecon CEO Giam Swiegers.

Similarly, David Morrison AO, DCA Chair who appears in the campaign video #WordsAtWork, believes language plays a critical role in shaping workplace cultures. Morrison gained the attention of the Australian nation when he told misbehaving troops to “get out” if they couldn’t accept women as equals. Appointed Chief of Army in 2011, Morrison has championed cultural change for female soldiers, as well as people from ethnic minorities and those with alternative sexual preferences, and recently won the Australian of the Year Awards, 2016 for doing so.

“For some time I have been advocating that everyone in our society, from all genders, races, creeds, ages, disabilities, religions or sexual orientations, be given a chance to achieve their potential. Unfortunately, in many workplaces, this isn’t always the case. People use language to denigrate others and to take away their self-respect. Sometimes it happens unconsciously, but the effect is the same.”

“DCA’s new campaign is not about being ‘politically correct’ – it is about encouraging people to use language at work which is respectful, accurate, and relevant to everyone,” said Morrison. Research demonstrates that inclusive cultures are high performing cultures. How we speak to and about each other influences how we treat each other, and this builds our workplace cultures.

In a world of ‘always on’ media, including social media networks, Morrison believes that “Words have never been more important.” Aurecon couldn’t agree more.

Aurecon’s Chief People Officer, Liam Hayes concludes: “We believe our future success rests squarely on the creativity and innovation of our people. Management can set direction, but it’s our staff who shape our strategy as we focus on bringing our clients’ ideas to life. Creating an inclusive workplace in which people feel valued and a sense of belonging is key to ensuring they feel empowered to voice up and contribute ideas. Our support for the #WordsAtWork campaign is founded in our belief that inclusive language will play a critical role in achieving this aim.”

The DCA has extended its thanks to Aurecon for their leadership and vision in supporting this project. The campaign consists of a video, series of guides and an education programme for workplaces to show how inclusive language can improve workplace culture and drive productivity. These are accessible to companies across Australia from Wednesday 1 June.

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