Executive Director, BAM Ventures
Simon holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) from Warwick Business School and a BSc (Honours) in psychology, philosophy and computer science. He has over 25 years’ experience in operational leadership and transformation delivery working globally for a number of engineering firms, including Laing O’Rourke and Kier.
In April 2019, Royal BAM Group welcomed Simon as Chief Transformation Officer (CTO), which saw him driving the delivery of our corporate strategy and as of end 2021, he was appointed Executive Director for BAM Ventures, a new business segment and part of BAM UK & Ireland. The Ventures segment brings together all of BAM UK & Ireland’s non-construction businesses, with an entrepreneurial focus on driving performance and increasing investment for value.
Simon is incredibly passionate about BAM’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion agenda and states that ‘Inclusion is not optional.
It is critical for growth and future proofing our business.’
It’s been an incredible Pride month, with a wide range of activities across BAM to celebrate our LGBTQ+ network. It was both inspiring and humbling and as part of lots of conversations we held, I was asked for my view on how we are doing.
Well…I worry about bubbles. Bubbles are where we all naturally want to be. Surrounded by those who like us and whom we like. Those who respect us and we, in turn, respect. Those who think like us.
This may sound great, but the problem with bubbles is that they rapidly become echo chambers and run the risk that bad ideas seem good. Looking back at history, almost all bad decisions were made because individuals convinced themselves that everyone thought like them and their view of the world was the only valid one.
Last Friday, my wife and I were at the 15-year anniversary drinks of our friends Mark and Adam, who had one of the first civil partnerships in the country. We talked about Pride month and about how much has changed over the past decade and a half. About how their relationship is now no different to any other. About how they are more worried about the overgrown lawn and broken tumble-dryer than facing any form of hostility at work. About how discrimination doesn’t really exist any longer.
But this is a bubble. And this is my worry. For it doesn’t take much to find cases of genuine workplace discrimination even in the UK. Similar to gender equality, even though we have some of the best equality laws in the world in this country, every day there are millions of micro-aggressions that still reinforce many of the old prejudices. I worry that even though I don’t see it in my bubble, there is still discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community, whether it be negative language in the office or holding non-inclusive team-bonding sessions. These need to be called out with the same challenge as any prejudice.
I am pleased to say that I work at a company, BAM, that recognises this, and whilst I have no doubt that there is still work to be done in terms of creating a fully inclusive work environment, the vast majority of us are fully committed to genuine inclusivity across our business. From being provided with coaches and support to ensure our behaviour and our practices are as inclusive as possible, to ‘reverse mentoring’ from various members of our graduate intake across our organisation.
So, please think about your own bubbles. Could you make your bubbles more varied, more inclusive? Could you join other bubbles that you wouldn’t ordinarily be part of? Are some of the ways you approach work putting off valuable talent? Do you provide the same support to all of your employees? Are your policies and practices inclusive and have you actually checked this with those outside your bubble?
Challenging our bubbles is important to me, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it’s good business sense. I want to be surrounded and challenged by the best minds in our industry, regardless of sexuality, race, religion or any other factor. That is the only path to a great business and in turn, a great society.
Have a great Pride month everyone.