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Jacobs on building a global employee network

In our latest blog from a #WorkWithMe member, Samantha Daly of Jacobs gives her top tips for creating a global employee network.

At Jacobs, we solve the world’s most important challenges from ageing infrastructure to climate change resiliency, and our people are working to find better ways to create an enduring legacy. We put the spotlight on ensuring that Jacobs is an employer of choice in every way, which means investing in our people, culture and inclusion. We have eight employee networks who help this value come to life and ACE is the newest of our groups.

Launched last year, ACE (Access, Connect, Empower) promotes and raises awareness of those with physical, cognitive and mobility impairments, and supports caregivers, their families and friends, as well as our clients and members of the community. Jacobs’ Global Inclusion and Diversity Council (made up of the Executive Leadership Team and Chairs of existing Jacobs Employee Networks) unanimously approved our business case to form the new network.

Over our first year, we have learnt lessons that we think would prove valuable to other companies, both large and small, looking to establish their own employee network:

Building your business case

The first key part to building your business case is ensuring you have your basic requirements in place. For us, that meant establishing if there was an interest from  employees. We identified an initial global group of people keen to support the new network and set out a briefing paper recommending the network, its proposed values and objectives. There are lots of data sources available to support with facts and figures to help you build your case. Your business case should be clear on what you are asking for.

Find your allies

It is important to find people who are committed to putting the network into action. A lot of people are supportive but do not have the time needed to get something up and running. Honest conversations about time availability will help you.

We found that there was a nervousness around lead roles within the network and whether these should go to people with disabilities or not. While it is important to understand the perspectives and desires of people living with disability and the impact within the workplace, it is important to be inclusive of other support and perspectives. In our experience, seize every offer of help that you have and build disability confidence with everyone in your organisation.

Use of language

In building a global network, it became evident that within the UK alone there were very different terms that were preferred to talk about disability and carers. No one term will suit everyone, but for clear and consistent communications we talk about disabilities and other physical or cognitive adaptive challenges, and make sure we reference these in the context of the social model of disability and in line with UN guidance.

Build top down and bottom up

Senior level engagement is important to gain access and support from direct decision makers. We have two executive level sponsors at Jacobs which has proved invaluable. And after setting up, we also sought senior leaders in each region to provide support tailored to geographical needs and variations, and build more connections within our offices.

Ultimately, a network will not succeed without purpose and interest at a grass-roots level. We were pleased with our initial signatories, but we realise there is much more potential from a global workforce of nearly 52,000. We have found it to be helpful to explain to audiences at events in our offices, what our vision and mission is and exactly what it means to be a member of ACE.

Set realistic goals

We held an initial chartering meeting with our global leads to firstly ensure alignment to a vision, mission and objectives that we set together. We also produced a series of ideas that we could work on that would make our company more inclusive. As part of a road-map exercise, we looked at whether these would be short, medium or long-term goals and attributed owners to them to drive the actions forward. It has proved important to revisit these actions based on emerging events within the company e.g. strategy communications, availability of resources and time it will take to implement.

In the year since we set up our network, we have grown from 50 members to over 350 members across 88 offices in 12 different countries. We produced a video which has seen over 5000 hits on LinkedIn and held over 20 face-to-face events. We have a two-year action plan and are excited for what we can achieve.

Find our more: 

For further information contact:

Samantha Daly

ACE Global Chair

Telephone: 0203 479 8356


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This note is for general information purposes only to provide an indication of the range of services Jacobs offers and information on previous projects utilising these capabilities. It is current as at the date specified below. Exact services and personnel must be confirmed on a project-by-project basis.

Date: 26 February 2020.

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