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Beca’s diversity wins national award

Media release 3 September 2007

Beca’s diversity wins national award – as well as international business

A diverse workforce is becoming an essential business requirement for New Zealand companies wishing to expand overseas, according to the head of Beca’s Transportation Group Matthew Ensor.

Speaking after receiving the Equal Employment Opportunities Diversity Award for the private sector, Mr Ensor said making diversity in the workplace a competitive advantage will help the New Zealand employee-owned engineering consultancy expand its operations through Asia and beyond.

The advantages of cultural diversity for Beca were two-fold, Mr Ensor said.

It provided a significant advantage in growing Beca’s offshore business, as well as a sustainable way to develop the business in New Zealand by addressing the current shortage of skilled engineers and other professionals.

“Diversity makes great business sense. For every dollar we invest in attracting and retaining skilled staff from around the world, we’re getting many more back in the value people are adding to our company.”

“Having a diverse workplace used to be just a nice-to-do, but it’s now becoming a real competitive advantage for New Zealand companies wishing to expand overseas.”

He said Beca effectively imports the best talent from many parts of the world, so that it can export its skills and services overseas. Last year, the consultancy sold around NZ$100m of professional services outside New Zealand.

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As the overseas part of the business grows, harnessing the creativity and innovation as well as local knowledge of a diverse workforce will be important, said Mr Ensor.

“You can provide a much more effective service if you understand your client’s culture, speak their language, and you have staff who know how to operate in a particular country.”

“We made a conscious decision in 2003 that if we wanted to work globally in Transportation, we’d have to make diversity work. That’s what this award recognises.”

The challenge for Beca has been to ensure they also create a working environment that brings out the best in staff. The Diversity Award recognises initiatives Beca has put in place to create a welcoming, productive environment.

These include engaging an English language tutor and mentor for new employees; ensuring new recruits have realistic expectations of their new country ahead of accepting a job; and working closely with the Department of Labour.

Reflecting the success of the initiatives, approximately half of the staff in Beca’s Transportation Group are now originally from overseas and 40% are women. This represents a change from 2002, when almost all of the 30 traffic engineers working in the team were men, and originally from New Zealand.

The New Zealand Defence Force was selected as the public sector winner of the Diversity Award. The two organisations work closely together on a number of projects and Mr Ensor said having been both winners of a Diversity Award in 2007 was a great way to celebrate the association.

Beca Backgrounder

Beca is an international employee-owned engineering and related consultancy services group, established in New Zealand in 1918. Its range of services cover engineering, planning, project management, architecture, geo-technical surveying, cost estimating, asset management and valuations.

The consultancy, which is the country’s largest New Zealand-owned engineering firm, has offices in New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, Singapore, Indonesia, Myanmar, United Arab Emirates, Britain, Brazil, Chile and the US. Since 2002, the company has grown from 1091 staff to over 1900 – thanks in part to Beca’s strategy to recruit the best engineers out of Asia, and to target Asian migrants with engineering backgrounds who are already in New Zealand.

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