MSI’s Enduring Commitment to Gender Equality
MSI has always had gender equality as part of its core DNA. Before being acquired by Tetra Tech in 2016, we operated for more than three decades as a women-owned firm. Even as our management structure has evolved, we have remained committed to gender equity. Today, we are more committed than ever to creating a positive and safe workplace environment for all existing and potential staff, including women.
I am proud to say that our workforce is over 55% female, and at the senior and executive level we have an equal number of women and men in those positions. At MSI, I can see women lead and excel at the helm of important projects in conflict settings, for instance, or guiding new initiatives to improve how we deliver development projects worldwide. Our workplace statistics far outpace the norm. According to the International Labor Organization, the global workforce participation rates of females in 2019 was less than half (47%). And according to Grant Thornton, a leading audit, tax and advisory firm, women account for less than one third (29%) of senior roles globally.
There is increasing evidence and an emerging global consensus that gender equality improves an organization’s performance. MSI’s President, Keith Brown, offers MSI’s experience as supporting data. “I have been at MSI for 27 years and for virtually all of that time women have been represented at or above 50% participation across all staff functions, including senior positions….I am certain this has been a key factor in the company’s long run of success.” Keith is quick to note that MSI still has work to do, adding “As we have continued to reflect on gender and inclusion as core operating principles, it has become clear that, despite our comparatively strong historic performance regarding gender, MSI can improve. And if we can be better, we must be better.”
MSI’s Human Resources Director, Kwashie Strong, shares that “the question of workplace culture comes up quite frequently during the recruitment process. Female applicants want to know, ‘Does the company value women and are they afforded the same opportunities as men?’ We’re able to answer in two ways. First, the numbers are clear around the opportunities that women have at our company based on our recruitment and hiring practices. Second, we continue to engage with our staff around their needs and what values are important to them. This is leading to a better understanding of where we may be able to make improvements as an organization.”
Aligning with this year’s International Women’s Day theme, “an equal world is an enabled world,” MSI has recently announced that it will pursue a global business certification for gender equality known as EDGE. EDGE assesses organizations against four internationally accepted standards of gender equality in the workplace, providing MSI an opportunity to learn and reflect on how we perform against those standards and among our peers. More importantly, the assessment allows us to truly understand if we are meeting the needs and aspirations of our employees around gender equality.
EDGE certification will flag any potential gaps in our policies and practices, allowing us to make positive improvements to our workplace. Additionally, MSI may be able to integrate lessons learned and best practices from EDGE into our development work. Gender and Inclusion Practice Area Leader, Darcy Ashman, notes that “participating in EDGE will offer an additional advantage by giving us expanded perspective on gender audits and gender and inclusion-focused organizational change tools and approaches. The value we get from becoming EDGE certified is that much greater as it strengthens our approaches to help clients meet international gender mainstreaming standards through our project work around the world.”
In addition to creating safe places for our staff to work worldwide, advancing gender equality within MSI fosters a workplace environment where people want to work, and where they are proud to do so. EDGE gives us additional resources to ensure this remains an integral part of who we are as a company going forward.
I am personally very excited about this process, having helped to guide these efforts with my colleagues over the last several months. Like so many of my colleagues, I believe that an equal workplace is an enabled workplace, and “an equal world is an enabled world.”