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Case study: How WSP promotes diversity

As one of the world’s leading professional services firms, providing technical expertise and strategic advice to clients in the Property
& Buildings, Transportation & Infrastructure, Environment, Industry, Resources and Power & Energy sectors, with 36,000 employees in 500 offices across 40 countries, WSP is committed to building an inclusive culture that respects and maximises the contribution of its people for the benefit of clients, shareholders and wider communities.

This case study is based on the 2016 Global Sustainability Report by WSP published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ ESG/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.

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Abstract

WSP seeks to provide
 a professional and fair working environment in which all individuals are treated with dignity and respect  Tweet This!, free from harassment, bullying and discrimination. In order to promote diversity WSP took action to:
  • implement a Global Diversity and Inclusion Policy
  • carry out regional diversity actions
  • provide equal opportunities
  • promote gender diversity
  • provide equal pay

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2016 Global Sustainability Report WSP identified a range of material issues, such as economic performance, occupational health and safety, training and education, emissions, anti-corruption. Among these, promoting diversity stands out as a key material issue for WSP.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards              

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The reporting organization shall identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations and interests.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups WSP engages with:

Stakeholder Group                Method of engagement
Employees

 

 

 

 

·      Employee surveys

·      Townhall meetings

·      Information cascaded from leadership, via team meetings

·      Global internal communications (intranet, emails) and local intranets

·      Annual and Sustainability Reports

·      Leadership interviews

·      Ad hoc engagement: in 2016, 350 employees took part in a brand survey

Investors and analysts

 

·      Investor relations activities including: investor days, meetings, roadshows, conferences, discussion with senior executives, conference calls

·      Website postings

·      Financial reports

·      Press releases and media relations

·      Annual Information Form and Annual Report

·      Annual Meeting of Shareholders

Clients

 

 

 

·      Project communications

·      Thought leadership/conferences

·      Feedback received from clients

·      Ad hoc engagement: client brand survey in 2016

Business partners, including subcontractors, joint venture and consortium partners ·      Project communications

 

Suppliers ·      Procurement
Governments, including regulatory authorities ·      Project work communications involving government agencies

 

Industry bodies ·      Participation on key industry association committees

·      Attendance at industry functions

·      Sponsorship of industry events and research

·      Trade displays

·      Thought leadership

Local communities

 

·      Consultation on behalf of clients within projects

·      Local community involvement/charity work

·      Sponsorship and donations

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritise material topics WSP engaged with external and internal stakeholders through questionnaires and individual conversations. External stakeholders included investors, clients and in some regions regulatory authorities, while internal stakeholders included employees.

What actions were taken by WSP to promote diversity?

In its 2016 Global Sustainability Report WSP reports that it took the following actions for promoting diversity:

  • Implementing a Global Diversity and Inclusion Policy
  • WSP has a Global Diversity and Inclusion Policy, available for all employees and applicable to all its operating entities. Through the policy, WSP aims to:
    • ensure the fair and equal treatment of employees
    • foster a culture of diversity and inclusion globally
    • provide employees with the best opportunities to fulfill their potential
    • respect and protect the human rights of employees and contractors
  • Carrying out regional diversity actions
  • WSP carries out a variety of regional diversity actions, including the following:
    • Canada: 100 Days Challenge. The 100 Days Challenge is a programme that develops professionals unique in their field, revealing their talent, promoting a more ambitious attitude and propelling careers in innovative ways. The 2016 programme included 50 hours of training during 100 days for eleven women in the first cohort, with weekly online exercises; expert videos and online articles; multiple networking events; group workshops and conference calls; access to a unique business network; a final report to measure the impact of learning and support at all times.
    • US: US Diversity Committee. The diversity committee provides leadership, structure and accountability to diversity efforts in the US. It is sponsored by and has the full support of the US executive leadership team and aims to ensure that the firm continues to recognise, utilise and celebrate WSP’s diverse individuals; cultivate a balanced pipeline of qualified candidates; promote an inclusive community grounded in respect and appreciation of women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, veterans and other protected groups; and monitor and enforce compliance with all federal, state and local diversity laws and company diversity policies and procedures.
    • Australia/New Zealand: #engineeredHERway. #engineeredHERway is a recruitment campaign for WSP’s Australia and New Zealand business committed to improving diversity at WSP. The campaign provides regular updates on programmes that are available regarding gender equality, showcases extraordinary women in WSP’s business and seeks to attract additional senior women to join WSP.
    • UK: Women in Leadership (WiL) Network. The Women in Leadership network is closely aligned with WSP’s UK equality, diversity and inclusion strategy. WiL works with the business to help develop the right environment to enable women at WSP to reach their full potential, and to increase the number of women at senior levels. The network is open to all employees – women and men – at all levels of the business and across all UK offices. WiL provides a platform for its members to influence WSP’s business culture, and exposes them to senior colleagues from different teams and offices.
  • Providing equal opportunities
  • WSP is committed to providing equal opportunities in employment. Accordingly, WSP does not tolerate harassment or unfair discrimination against employees or contract staff in its recruitment and employment policies, terms and conditions, procedures, processes and decisions, on the grounds of race, colour, nationality, national or ethnic origin, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, part-time or fixed-term status, disability, age, religion or belief. WSP monitors and addresses discrimination incidents, according to corporate policy.
  • Promoting gender diversity
  • In 2016, WSP recruited Fannie Jacques as Vice President, Global Human Resources. Fannie Jacques has a track record of developing women in leadership roles and promoting gender balance within the workplace. Additionally, she has supported organisations in creating strategies to attract, develop and raise the profile of women in professional settings.
  • Providing equal pay
  • WSP’s Global Diversity and Inclusion Policy calls for fair and equal treatment of employees free from discrimination, and includes specifically pay discrimination as an area of focus. WSP monitors pay equity data internally and is committed to equal pay for its employees, constantly seeking opportunities to strengthen its balanced approach to compensation. Accordingly, WSP works internally to prioritise equal remuneration strategies with stakeholders in human resources and management, and to refine its tracking and analytics.

Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?

The GRI Standards addressed in this case are:

1) Disclosure 405-1 Diversity of governance bodies and employees

2) Disclosure 405-2 Ratio of basic salary and remuneration of women to men

3) Disclosure 406-1 Incidents of discrimination and corrective actions taken

 

Disclosure 405-1 Diversity of governance bodies and employees corresponds to:

Disclosure 405-2 Ratio of basic salary and remuneration of women to men corresponds to:

Disclosure 406-1 Incidents of discrimination and corrective actions taken corresponds to:

  • Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Business theme: Non-discrimination
  • Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Business theme: Non-discrimination
  • Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  • Business theme: Non-discrimination

 

80% of the world’s 250 largest companies report in accordance with the GRI Standards

SustainCase was primarily created to demonstrate, through case studies, the importance of dealing with a company’s most important impacts in a structured way, with use of the GRI Standards. To show how today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success – and how you can too.

Research by well-recognised institutions is clearly proving that responsible companies can look to the future with optimism.



FBRH GRI Standards Certified and IEMA approved Sustainability Course | Venue: London LSE

By registering for the next 2-day FBRH GRI-Standards Certified and IEMA approved Course you will be taking the first step in gaining the many benefits of sustainability reporting.

 

References:

1) This case study is based on published information by WSP, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:

http://database.globalreporting.org/

2) https://www.globalreporting.org/standards/gri-standards-download-center/

Note to WSP: With each case study we send out an email requesting a comment on this case study. If you have not received such an email please contact us.

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