Open and close mobile menu


Insights Here's what we believe: 'Different Makes a Difference.'

“We inhabit a universe that is characterized by diversity.”

This simple truth from Desmond Tutu is something we embrace in our organization, where our greatest strength is that we're not all the same. Our employees' diverse views and experiences make us better at creating sustainable solutions for our clients and communities.

That brings us to AtkinsRéalis 's Global Vice President (VP) for Equality, Diversity & Inclusion. Meet Victoria Jones and hear about our new ED&I program, ”Different Makes a Difference.”

Is it true that a semi-joke over coffee led to you joining the organization?

Yes, I was working as a consultant in another company. A colleague and I had had a really challenging week, so we met for coffee one afternoon and agreed it was time to move on. We both looked at our strategic partners, and she said, "Right, I'm going to apply to X," and I said, "Right, I am going to apply to Y." I made the application, and here I am!

What keeps you with us?

Variety. Leadership and empowerment – it sounds simple, but it's true. The amount of variety that I have had in my career here is phenomenal, and it's meant I've never needed or wanted to move. But variety is only one part of the jigsaw. The variety and the empowerment have come from great leaders who've given me opportunities to make a difference, and that's a credit to them.

What has been your greatest career achievement?

It has to be securing my current role as Global Vice President for Equality, Diversity & Inclusion back in April. In true female fashion, I wasn't sure whether to apply. I wasn't sure I was the right person for the role, but family and colleagues encouraged me to. I had to pinch myself when I received the call with the offer, but at the same time, I was so proud. I've always aspired to a senior role since being one of the first women to attend the Women's Development program over ten years ago. Finally, I have achieved it!

How are you helping to change the organization?

My first priority in the new role was introducing a global ED&I program as part of our sustainable business strategy. We developed a meaningful, sustainable commitment to our employees to show our clients and shareholders that we are willing and able to change. Now we must deliver on our commitment.

"We promise to create and maintain an inclusive culture where everyone belongs, can be their true self and can reach their full potential."

this is a image of Victoria

What are your biggest hurdles to making the program a success?

The irony of this answer is probably not knowing what the barriers are. This is why we've developed one of the strategic pillars – removing barriers every step of the way. We must solve the right problems and introduce the best solutions, but we need to get to the root cause to do that. 

The career deflection report we recently commissioned is a crucial part of our program. It highlights the things we need to change and is also a "call to arms" for the sector. It means we can start taking more of a leading role in developing long-term, sustainable change for the benefit of everyone! 

It's also important to empower each region to create its own action plans. They need to be co-created so that employees and leadership feel part of the journey. The actions also need to align with the specific challenges and opportunities employees face in their locations.

What are you learning through your work on the ED&I program?

The most exciting thing I'm learning is that every single one of us is different, and that's what's important. And this is why the "Different makes a difference" program resonates so much.

"We must treat everyone as a human being first, an employee second. That way, we can demonstrate empathy, learn, and contribute to a better future."

I’m also beginning to realize more and more that I am different. I have a very different academic background from the majority of my peers. I was an Apprentice back in 1994 when I left school and carried out day release from college. 

I came from a very working-class background. For us, university was never a topic of conversation. I was the first person to ever go to college, let alone university. But that's how I learn best – I learn by doing, and throughout my whole career, that's the path I have chosen. It's what suits me. 

I often say to colleagues I work closely with – don't tell me, show me. Don't send me a presentation. Talk me through your journey or approach. That way, they'll get the best out of me and my experiences. We're all different!

How has your ED&I work had a positive impact on individuals so far?

Another big challenge for me is supporting the silent majority to get involved in the ED&I conversation and understand the impact we can all have – even if we don't think we can. 

I had an experience recently where I wanted to introduce a technical webinar on inclusive design. So, I spoke to a couple of colleagues about my idea. We talked about me hosting the webinar, which of course, I could have done – but I didn't want to. 

I want ED&I to be part of what we all do, not just always led by me or spoken about when the VP of ED&I is in the virtual room. So one of my colleagues recommended someone who, by his own admission, wasn't someone who'd prioritize an ED&I event and didn't have a vast knowledge of the subject. But we both knew he'd be a fantastic host for the webinar. 

Fast forward two weeks to the event, and it was an amazing success. We ended up with a brilliant technical panel that demonstrated the breadth of knowledge we are building on this topic worldwide. The event has had a lasting impression on the host and a willingness to get more involved. He also helped us attract a wider audience to the webinar, again largely those that would not prioritize dialling into an ED&I event!

What are you learning from the young people entering the organization?

So much – I have had many opportunities recently to work with our young professionals. They share their stories with me, their aspirations for the future and why a sense of purpose in what they do is so important to them. That resonates with me no end – I'm the type of person who needs to know I'm having an impact in whatever I do inside and outside of work.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Wow, that's a difficult one as I feel I have achieved so much over the last 10 years that I kind of just want to enjoy the role I am doing and do it well. 

I would, however, like to start doing more voluntary work outside of the organization and build on my current skillset in some shape or form. I was a Scout leader for many years, which brought me a huge amount of pleasure. But, once my son became a teenager, it was no longer cool to have your mom as one of the leaders – so I need to move on to something new in the volunteering world now!

Join our Talent Community for exciting opportunities and news about our people, projects and programs.