Diverse group of people holding hands Inclusivity

Steps we’re taking at Alpin to drive inclusion at the workplace

At Alpin, we’re proud to have a diverse team of employees of varying ages, from nations all over the world, who speak over 14 different languages. As of January 2021, the women that work at Alpin make up 42% of our team. In order to support all of our employees and ensure that they are all given equal opportunity at the workplace, Alpin created the Alpin Diversity and Inclusivity Policy, and later, an initiative by the same name.

So, how did we approach the process of improving inclusion at the workplace? Let’s find out!

Creating a Task Force

Putting employees first has always been a part of our values at Alpin. However, we recognized that there existed a need for employee support that was more visible; it was important that our employees were aware of and often reminded of the company’s promise to them to provide a secure, encouraging, and inviting work environment.

We wanted to ensure that every Alpiner receives equal opportunity, and we recognized the importance of creating an encouraging environment, particularly for minority groups, to be heard and appreciated. To begin this process, we knew we needed a team of Alpiners who cared deeply about this cause and would give their time and effort to lead this initiative.

The initiative first started off as a support system for the women at Alpin, in an attempt to equip them with the confidence and tools to prosper at Alpin, especially considering that we operate in the construction industry, which is still one of the most male-dominated industries in the world. The disproportionate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on women, with many women having to juggle caregiving roles with work, and women’s jobs being more vulnerable to the effects of the crisis in general, has further emphasized the need for companies to show their employees that they are valued.

This support group then quickly came to become the Alpin Diversity and Inclusivity task force that looked to better the experience of all employees, with Alpin Women being an important sub-category of the Initiative. Camille Hubert, Strategic Client Engagement Consultant at Alpin, was the first to champion the Initiative, and the task force was quickly formed with members of different genders, ethnicities, and business levels. We knew this would be important so that the diversity of our team could be represented at the decision making level for any tasks we worked on as part of the initiative.

Getting Leadership Support

The next step, and one of the most important, was to ensure that company leadership was on the same page as the D&I task force. Leadership voicing their approval of the initiative and managers at all levels lending their support to their respective teams would be crucial to the success of the initiative. All messages about the D&I initiative had to come with a stamp of approval from top management and the HR department, to reaffirm to the rest of the company that these ideals were seen as essential to Alpin’s values.

Conducting a Gap Analysis

Once the D&I task force and company leadership had aligned their goals, the next step we took was to conduct a gap analysis. What were employees, especially those belonging to minority groups, struggling with at the company? What steps had we already taken to combat these issues, and what were we missing?

Answering questions like these were extremely important, as well as eye-opening, and the Alpin D&I task force worked hard to complete this checklist to get an accurate snapshot of the current state of affairs at the company; it showed us problem areas we hadn’t considered earlier as well as a clear direction in terms of what had to be done in the future so we could provide our employees with an environment where they could thrive. The criteria we considered in the gap analysis included whether the company had paid parental leave, an approach to work/life balance, and a clear non-discrimination policy, among others.

Developing a Policy

Creating a policy that everyone at the company would be required to adhere to, and that would communicate clearly to all employees the importance the company places on creating a diverse and inclusive work environment, was the next step.

Our policy asserts that it is within our best interest to promote diversity, eliminate discrimination in the workplace, and ensure that all employees and job applicants are given equal opportunity to create an organization that is representative of all sections of society. Because of this, we’re proud to have a diverse team that consists of people from different genders, age groups, religions, nationalities, and cultures, and we realize that in order to leverage this diversity, and to satisfy and retain our employees, we need to make inclusion at the workplace a cornerstone of our business strategy.

The main principles of our D&I Policy include creating a work environment that values individual differences, and promotes dignity and respect for all employees, not tolerating any form of harrassment or discrimination, encouraging employees to speak up about their concerns so that appropriate corrective measures can be applied, and making training, development, and progression opportunities available to all employees.

Creating a supportive environment

At every part of our journey to embracing diversity and improving inclusion at the workplace, a supportive environment was key; vocal support from leadership would play a key role. This led to one of the big steps taken by the company to show their commitment to the initiative: signing the United Nations’ Women Empowerment Principles. WEPs are a set of principles, established by UN Global Compact and UN Women, that offer guidance to businesses on how to best promote gender equality and women empowerment at company, industry and community levels. These principles, which are informed by international labor and human rights standards, revolve around equal treatment, employee health and well-being, measurement and reporting, and much more. For Alpin, becoming a WEPs signatory meant that we were making a public declaration of our commitment to upholding equality, that would not only assure our employees but our partners and clients as well.

At this stage, it was time to initiate the conversation of inclusion at the company in a way where employees were involved in the discussion. For this reason, the D&I task force set up an IamRemarkable workshop for the women on our team along with key members of management; IamRemarkable is an initiative created by Google, that aims to empower women and other underrepresented groups to openly celebrate their achievements in the workplace. The Alpin team already does a great job of promoting our employees and appreciating their employees, but many had expressed that they did not feel comfortable bringing up their own achievements. Through the workshop, we were able to explore the ideas of self-promotion and talk about individual achievements and the generally negative connotations that they hold and brainstorm how we could create a work environment where our employees, especially women, would not shy away from celebrating their achievements.

Several meetings were also held where the women at Alpin could come together and discuss their concerns, as well as put forth suggestions for improvement. We found that through small group discussions, we were able to get a lot of input from our employees and understand what common issues they faced.

The D&I task force also set up an online folder accessible to the whole team, that contains important resources about topics ranging from fighting gender biases, statistics about diversity and inclusion in the construction industry, tips on improving confidence, and much more. The task force works on regularly updating these resources for the team.

Providing Equal Opportunity

The main goal of our D&I initiative is to make sure that all of our employees get equal opportunities to work on great projects, to have their ideas heard, improve their skills, and to be able to share their expertise. In this regard, our management makes sure to maintain an open-door policy that allows our team to voice any concerns they have without hesitation. The company also makes sure to allow all employees to have control over the type and timing of work they do so that their work aligns with their professional and personal aspirations. Alpin also provides financial support for employees to undergo training for professional development.

The D&I task force works with the Alpin Marketing Team to find opportunities for our team to share their knowledge with the public, to promote our vision of efficient and sustainable building practices. We push the voices in our team, especially those of our women, to be heard, and aim to create innovative and passionate leaders in sustainability. The women on our team have spoken at several conferences and webinars, such as Women in Clean Energy, Kuwait Green Building Week, Innovation Arabia Conference, EQ Magazine Webinar, as well as been interviewed for publications such as Big Project ME.

Not being All Talk

At this stage, we had figured out how to voice our support for our employees, but it was imperative that we put our intent into actions. We wanted not only to improve the work environment at Alpin, but also to generate conversation about the topic of diversity and inclusion in our industry and operating regions. Alpin prides itself on thought leadership and our consultants are always eager to share their expertise and knowledge with our clients, our team, as well as the general public through articles, whitepapers, training, seminars, and so on. In support of our D&I initiative, we were glad to have published articles about the inclusion of women in the construction and sustainability industries, that featured interviews with some of the women leading these fields in the Middle East. We were glad to be able to share their experiences and insights on the topic, and promote their stories with our network.

The most recent project that the D&I task force worked on was an updated maternity leave policy that exceeds the regional norm. With the updated policy, that would allow our female employees to benefit from up to 90 additional days of paid leave, in addition to the government-mandated 45 days, we wanted to show our commitment to provide expecting and new mothers with the support and flexibility they would require during and directly after pregnancy. You can learn more about the new policy hereMaternity Leave Policy.

Currently, the D&I task force is working on conducting workshops that address fighting gender biases at the workplace with the help of resources developed by Lean In, a movement that aims to create a bias-free workplace that allows people of every gender to thrive.

Moving Forward with Inclusion at the workplace

We’re very proud of the small yet vital changes we’ve begun to make as part of our D&I initiative, but there’s much more work to be done. We not only hope to see a positive change within Alpin, but within the construction and sustainability industries in general, especially in the Middle East. The Alpin D&I task force is already working on more activities for the future, including sensitivity training sessions, mentorship programs, and much more, and we’re excited to keep bettering ourselves throughout our journey to creating a more sustainable world.

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