Industry Insights

Diverse Workforce and Safe Work Environment Supercharge Geospatial Industry

Across the many DEI trends in the geospatial industry – a diverse workforce and a safe work environment are being focused on by WGIC Members.

WGIC Secretariat August 22, 2022
Diverse Workforce and Safe Work Environment Supercharge Geospatial Industry

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are becoming increasingly crucial for businesses to flourish as workplaces with DEI initiatives witness greater innovation and financial returns. McKinsey’s research confirms that gender, ethnic, and cultural diversity – particularly within executive teams, strongly correlates to financial performance across large companies worldwide.

“Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance,” quips Katie Cook, SVP and Global Program Manager – ESG and Diversity & Inclusion at Cyient, a global technology company. Inclusion supports building a safe work environment – physical, mental, and emotional safety – to unlock employees’ potential to benefit from the outcomes organizations aspire for. In this spirit, companies launch DEI programs to ensure diversity – representation of employees of different backgrounds (e.g., gender, race, beliefs, skills, abilities, experience, and expertise). Moreover, these programs ensure creativity, innovation, and diverse perspectives within the teams. Equity – fair reward systems and equal pay for equal work – safeguard the continuity of business progress. Each of these is interrelated and synergistic.

Companies are committing to DEI action and aligning such initiatives with their vision to provide technology solutions to world challenges. As a representative of the global geospatial industry, WGIC is perpetuating the culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion through DEI workshops and the recently announced WGIC Trailblazer Awards to celebrate exemplary leadership in advancing DEI in the geospatial ecosystem. 

There are many DEI trends in the geospatial industry, but a diverse workforce and safe work environment are particularly interesting to several companies. 

Diverse Workforce 

Diversity in the workplace is about including and accepting employees of all backgrounds to make the functioning of the teams more holistic. Individual initiative, intent to stay on, team collaboration, and commitment to work improve in a more diverse workforce. Among other benefits, workforce diversity increases creativity and productivity, encourages innovation, and reduces employee turnover. So, diversity is not only the right thing to do but also the smart thing to do. 

Today’s world is more interconnected than in the past. It is easier and more accessible for companies to take advantage of the diverse range of skilled individuals from different backgrounds. Companies in the geospatial industry such as Autodesk, Bentley Systems, Oracle, Planet, AAM, and many more are taking advantage of this opportunity. 

Autodesk consistently puts efforts into building a diverse and inclusive environment and welcomes professionals from different backgrounds, perspectives, and beliefs. Following this principle, Autodesk puts efforts into improving its hiring processes to have a workforce that reflects “the world we live in.” Recognizing its benefits, Autodesk reaches out to colleges and universities, especially colleges for women and ethnic minorities, and hires young professionals. The company partners with the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) to help NACME provide scholarships, resources, and opportunities to underrepresented and high-potential students seeking careers in engineering and computer science. 

Greg Bentley, CEO of Bentley Systems on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)

Diversity is at the core of a company’s success, as more diverse teams lead to higher performance. Recognizing this, Bentley Systems has integrated the core concepts of diversity into its functioning. Greg Bentley, CEO of Bentley Systems, says, “Diversity is in our character, our DNA. It’s necessary to succeed in what we do. We want to keep learning and getting better and more diverse, with more assurance of inclusion and equity.”  Discussing how Bentley can achieve diversity in the workforce, Katriona Lord-Levins, Chief Success Officer, Bentley Systems, says, “Having a diverse talent pool enables you access to an array of thoughts, opinions, and approaches that can unlock innovation and optimization.”She continues, “To encourage and influence diversity, executives should start by taking a close look at their hiring pool, and then examine how they measure people, hold them accountable, and reward their successes.” 

Bentley offers professional internship programs that continuously revise and improve hiring processes and audit the inclusive language policies. In addition, in 2020, Bentley’s employees came together to form the Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Alliance (IDEA). IDEA has four employee resource groups – OpenAbilities, OpenPride, People of Color in the US (POCUS), and Women at Bentley. 

Diversity embraces creativity and helps to generate ideas at Oracle. Safra Catz, Oracle CEO, says, “Every good idea at Oracle comes from our employees. By building diverse and inclusive teams, we benefit from each other’s strengths and perspectives. That’s what turns good ideas into great ideas.” Oracle continuously implements programs to make them more diverse and inclusive. Oracle received many rewards for its DEI efforts, among which is Forbes’ The Best Employers for Diversity.

Safra Catz, CEO, Oracle on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

Planet, a company that provides daily satellite data capturing change in our world, has always prioritized diversity. Putting DEI at the core, Planet created voluntary employee-led groups called the Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). These groups aim to foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with organizational mission and values. Planet develops programs to ensure that hiring, assignments, performance management and evaluation, and progression are inclusive and equitable. The plan for 2022 is to ensure that “Planeteers believe that they can be their truest selves at work and have an opportunity to grow, contribute and thrive.” 

A diverse workforce is a topic closest to AAM, a Woolpert company. “Our people are our business.” This phrase best describes AAM’s approach to DEI. AAM ensures a diverse workforce by fostering an environment of inclusiveness where all employees are valued and respected.  

Safe Work Environment   

Facilitating a safe work environment is fast becoming an indispensable organizational requisite in the geospatial industry. It is about prioritizing team members’ well-being, ensuring their physical, emotional, and mental safety, and creating a positive co-working environment that encourages respect for everyone. A safe workplace is where employees feel secure expressing themselves, which results in  

  • greater work participation,  
  • greater productivity, 
  • higher performance, 
  • increased job satisfaction, 
  • and increased individual, team, and organizational resilience.  

Personal or global challenges intensify the need for additional employee support, a belief people at Trimble have. Trimble’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion Advocate Richard Brown says, “We recognize employees are dealing with very complicated life issues right now, and we want to be creative and intentional in identifying new ways to support them.” 

Trimble aims to strengthen well-being at work to promote a feeling of safety. Every year, Trimble provides a global day off for mental health awareness. For 2021, the Black Professional Network sponsored a mental health workshop to share clinically proven tools that address burnout and stress. The goal was to help promote ways to overcome obstacles that hinder personal well-being. In a broader picture, Trimble’s 2021 DEI report promises to establish a Global DEI Council to ensure a safe work environment and listen to the suggestions of the council members representing the voices of Trimble’s employees when designing tailored DEI programs.

“Do your best work. Be your best self.” This motto already says a lot about Maxar, a space technology company specializing in manufacturing communication, earth observation, radar, satellite products, and related services. Maxar organizes team member engagement programs and fosters self-awareness to ensure employees’ emotional and mental well-being. Apart from that, Maxar takes action to ensure employees’ health and physical safety by 

  • strictly following safety guidelines in manufacturing processes, 
  • switching to safer heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (from R-22 refrigerants to the safer R-407C), 
  • installing ionization air systems to ensure a safe environment, 
  • and using low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) materials to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Diversity wins, inclusion matters, and equity inspires. A critical point for the leaders is that their DEI efforts should have continuity. It is everyday work. As the famous adage says, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Editors of the blog: Margarita Dadyan, and Bhanu Rekha from WGIC