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August 17, 2020

Being Openly Gay and Leading the Way in the Workplace

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Meet Chris Cockshaw, Vice President and Principal Project Manager for Mott Macdonald — a WORK180 Endorsed Employer. He’s also the leader of the company’s ‘Advancing LGBT+’ equality, diversity, and inclusion initiative for North and South America.

He may be a busy man but Chris kindly found time to tell WORK180 about his diversity and inclusion work with Mott Macdonald, as well as his own experiences being openly gay in the workplace. His answers are both moving and inspiring, and a must-read for any employer looking to emulate the incredible culture Mott MacDonald has achieved so far.

A close up photo of a man wearing a tartan flatcap and kilt

Chris Cockshaw, Vice President and Principal Project Manager – Energy – Mott MacDonald

1. As someone from the LGBTQI+ community, what would make you feel more comfortable to be open in the workplace and what could your employer do to make you feel safe to do so?

I personally feel very comfortable and safe as an openly gay man in the workplace. As the leader of Mott MacDonald’s “Advancing LGBT+” equality, diversity and inclusion initiative for North and South America, we focus on spotlighting/interviewing our LGBT+ employees, highlighting LGBT+ events and conferences across North America and educating many of our colleagues who may not be as familiar with LGBT+ issues.

Where I see our next challenge is educating the senior leadership about our “TQI+” team members. For example, one goal in 2020 is to educate our peers and leadership on why the concept of preferred pronouns is serious and important. We are also focused on building a support network for our transgender and gender-nonconforming employees.

2. Tell us about a time when you felt truly supported and/or included in your workplace

Three incidents in 2019 come to mind. First was in June when the Advancing LGBT+ team decided to organize a group to march at 2019 World Pride in New York City, the company enthusiastically sponsored our attendance at the parade. Mott MacDonald paid the entrance fee to march in the parade; they bought t-shirts and rainbow hard hats for everyone who marched; they provided supplies to make signs; they provided handouts that we could give to the crowds along the route; and after the event they created a company-wide news release celebrating our experiences. It reinforced that Mott MacDonald truly cared about their LGBT+ employees and their allies.

“Second, in August of 2019, I was chosen as one of 64 “Emerging Leaders” (out of a global pool of over 15,000 employees) within Mott MacDonald. This included an intensive five day training at our headquarters in the UK and an 18 month program of seminars and coaching to help us become the next group of senior leaders within the company. This showed me that being openly LGBT+ was not a hindrance to career growth and advancement and taught me that Mott MacDonald was making business decisions based on each person’s individual value to the company regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression.”

The third time was when I got married in October 2019. Mott MacDonald has a monthly newsletter celebrating weddings, births and retirements of our employees around the globe.

3. What Mott MacDonald says about the support it provides LGBTQI+ employees in the workplace:

Mott MacDonald is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) throughout our global business. Our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee has been in place since 2012. By 2022, our vision is to have EDI practices embedded in our operations as “business as usual.” In May and June 2019, we delivered one-to-one unconscious bias coaching sessions for our North America executive team.

In 2018, we created several “Advancing Groups” in North America, each one led by a Champion – Disability, Gender, LGBT+, Parents and Caregivers, Race and Multicultural and Veterans aiming to raise awareness and promote inclusivity internally and externally.

“The talent acquisition team is focused on a number of efforts to ensure Mott MacDonald is and is viewed as an employer of choice by a diverse pool of talent. By working with the various Advancing Groups, we have fostered a number of relationships with external organizations and launched a number of initiatives.”

Some of our key successes include developing a relationship with the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) in which we are now an Affiliate Partner, since 2019. We’ve registered as a partner with Hiring our Heroes – an organization focused on assisting transitioning military personnel into private sector jobs, through a paid internship. We hope to welcome our first cohort in 2020. We’ve also attended a number of events in partnership with Advancing Gender and LGBT+, including the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) national conference and marching at New York City Pride.

All of our vacancies are posted on our external and internal careers sites, to ensure an equal opportunity for all qualified candidates to apply. During our application and interview stages, we ensure candidates have the opportunity to request reasonable adjustments to the process, in order for a person with a disability to perform to the best of their ability. This includes alternative methods of application and interview accommodations. All of our vacancies are also posted through America’s Job Exchange, ensuring visibility on a diverse array of job boards.

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About the Author
WORK180 promotes organizational standards that raise the bar for women in the workplace. We only endorse employers that are committed to making real progress so that all women can expect better.

Looking for a new opportunity?

Our transparent job board only has vacancies from employers we endorse and lets you see what benefits, policies and perks come with the job.