Nov 26, 2020

New network aims to support LGBTQIA+ engineers

New network aims to support LGBTQIA+ engineers

Organisations across the engineering sector have launched a new network to support LGBTQIA+ professionals and allies in the workplace.

The InterEngineer network aims to address issues showcased in the 2020 Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI)’s annual employee survey, which identified a 19 per cent decrease (compared to 2019) in the number of employees who were completely open about their diverse sexual orientation at work.

The report also found that the youngest employees were those most likely to not bring their whole selves to work and women are less likely to be out than men.

Keen to address this trend, representatives from 10 organisations in the engineering sector – Aurecon, Engineers Without Borders Australia, WSP, BHP, Energy Australia, Origin, SA Water, GHD, Structerre and ACT Water Authority – supported by engineering peak body Engineers Australia – created InterEngineer.

“The idea came from personal experiences through my career journey with varying levels of comfort with bringing my whole self to work,” group co- founder Matthew Tendam said.

Mr Tendam, manager for environment and planning at Aurecon, said diversity and inclusion had become a focus in the engineering industry over the past 20 years, but there was certainly a lot more work ahead.

“InterEngineer has evolved from an idea to a team of dedicated volunteers to bring together the various LGBTQIA+ groups across the engineering industry,” he said.

“The aim of InterEngineer is to increase visibility and advocacy for LGBTQIA+ people and groups currently in the industry and provide a conduit to engage with students, remote/regional populations and other underrepresented communities.”

Engineers Australia chief executive officer Bronwyn Evans said to achieve a culture of inclusivity, organisations need to support and inspire those who are underrepresented.

“Initiatives such as InterEngineer serve to strengthen the engineering profession and uplift the LGBTQI+ community,” Dr Evans said.

“We want young people choosing a career to see engineering as a profession that will allow them to bring their true selves to work, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. That won’t happen unless organisations take meaningful and tangible steps to foster and celebrate diversity.”