Case Study: CH2M HILL—Constructing Pathways for Women Through InclusionJan 22, 2009
CH2M HILL’s Constructing Pathways for Women Through Inclusion initiative utilizes the company’s long-standing inclusive workplace to accelerate women’s advancement. In the traditionally male-dominated industry of engineering and construction, CH2M HILL provides a model for leveraging women employees to achieve business success. Founded on principles that include a collaborative, team-oriented, non-hierarchical culture where all views are heard and respected, this engineering and construction firm works to ensure that processes are transparent. All employees receive the Little Yellow Book, a guide to the organization’s values designed to support an environment in which diversity, openness, and innovation thrive. Expectations for employee behavior, including diversity orientation, are explicit and defined as “Work Approaches” in the company’s performance management system.
Other important components of Constructing Pathways for Women Through Inclusion include regional women’s networks that provide local learning and mentoring opportunities; Women’s Leadership Summits that deliver strategic learning opportunities to a cross-section of women leaders; informal mentoring and networking opportunities; targeted recruiting for both new graduates and experienced hires; a formal succession-planning process that ensures slates are diverse and include at least one woman or person of color; vigorous recruiting of women and people of color into the firm; and substantial involvement by the Board of Directors’ Workforce and Diversity Committee in developing strategy and policy. Accountability mechanisms include the Performance Enhancement Process, which evaluates employees’ goals; balanced scorecards that measure progress for each business group and ensure that efforts are tracked in the line business; and an employee survey through which leaders are held responsible for making continued improvement in diversity and inclusion measures.
CH2M HILL leverages women employees by ensuring they are placed in important positions, are visible role models, and are responsible for high-profile projects, linking their expertise to business success. Since the initiative’s launch in 2003, women’s representation in senior leadership positions—as business unit heads, geographic region leaders, and top managers—has increased from 2.9 percent to 18.0 percent, and women of color lead two of the company’s 13 geographic regions. The percentage of women project managers has also increased from 20.5 percent in 2005 to 30.3 percent in 2008.