; Our people - FY17 performance: ERM Sustainability Report 2017

our people

Our commitment

Our ability to attract, develop, reward and retain talented employees is central to our business strategy and vital to our future. We want to hire passionate people and ensure that we nurture and support their development and success.

In the past year, we experienced challenging market conditions in the commodity-related sectors of Oil and Gas and Mining. We ended the year with 4,300 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, which was a slight decrease from 4,450 FTE employees at the end of FY16. In response to market conditions in these sectors, our staffing strategy has evolved to engage flexible arrangements in addition to full-time employees. ERM's year-on-year voluntary turnover decreased from 13.3 percent to 11.8 percent in FY17, which is notably better than our industry’s average.

Read more on our workforce in the supporting data section.

Work-life balance

Our business sometimes demands long hours, frequent or extended travel, and deadline pressures. Within this context, ERM strives to maintain an appropriate work-life balance for its employees.

  • We provide flexible working arrangements where feasible, enabled by technology, and we will increase investment in this area in the years ahead.
  • We encourage wellness activities, and many of our offices implement initiatives, such as gym memberships, team sports, recognition of special family days and fresh fruit supplies.

Diversity and inclusion

We strive to provide a work environment where all employees have an equal opportunity to reach their full potential and contribute to ERM’s success. We want the diversity of our workforce to reflect the diversity of the communities in which we do business.

Through our policies, we prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, national origin, disability, veteran status or any other category protected by the laws of the communities in which we do business.

Annapolis Women’s Group

For the past year, the Annapolis, Maryland, US office has convened a Women’s Group. The group meets once a month over lunch to discuss a variety of topics. Thus far, the group has discussed work-life balance, career development, diversity in the workplace, empowering women and girls, among many other things. Nearly all women in the office participate, and several key takeaways and comments have been passed to ERM leadership.

As part of our commitment to the UN Global Compact, ERM is a signatory of the Women’s Empowerment Principles. The ERM Foundation includes "empowering women and girls" as an area of focus for funding projects reflecting the Sustainable Development Goals.

Each ERM region has developed a diversity and inclusion plan. These plans are designed to meet local objectives while aligning with ERM’s global diversity and inclusion initiatives. For example, in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, we focused on achieving more balanced representation by gender and ethnicity when identifying talent for leadership development programs. Additional actions to support diversity and inclusion will take place in FY18.

Over the last few years, there has been a companywide effort to increase the number of women in leadership positions. Increasing gender diversity among our partners and senior consultants is a long-standing KPI.

Female members of the Senior Leadership Team attend a global strategy meeting

Gender diversity in our executive management

ERM’s Executive Committee members are responsible for the strategic and operational leadership and management of the business. In FY17, the Executive Committee was expanded and now includes three women (21.4% female vs 7.7% last year):

  • CEO Keryn James
  • Global Director – Strategy, Sabine Hoefnagel
  • Managing Partner, Global Key Client Program, Lisa Millet

We have focused on increasing the number of women in our Aspire and Partner-in-training programs. These programs are critical to the development of future leaders within ERM, and greater gender diversity among their participants is a crucial component in achieving our diversity goals. In FY17, 39 percent of the Aspire program participants and 45 percent of the Partner-in-training participants were women.

Empowering local people in South Africa

Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) was launched by the South African government to correct inequalities that were placed on the population historically through apartheid and stimulate participation of previously disadvantaged groups in the economy to lead to increased economic growth. ERM is committed to the principles of B-BBEE and participates in a range of activities that not only provide excellent work prospects to historically disadvantaged people, but also evolve the company's corporate culture.

As a result of an independent audit of ERM South Africa’s B-BBEE status, the company has maintained our Level Three B-BBEE status (110 percent recognition) for another year. This is a great achievement and will help us maintain our competitiveness in local bids and tenders, as well as our standing with our local clients. ERM South Africa is currently 25 percent black-owned with 16 percent black female ownership.

Learning and development

We invest in the future of our people through a focus on learning and development. ERM provides opportunities for ongoing learning across technical, business and personal subject areas.

We offer a mix of classroom, digital, on-the-job and informal educational approaches – with technical experts contributing to specialist curricula.

The ERM Academy, our online portal, is the repository that holds all learning items, events, sessions and training records for staff. It is aligned with our career framework at each level. Employees can enhance the skills, knowledge and behaviors they need to adapt to a changing market and advance their career with ERM.

We aim to nurture a culture where learning occurs every day in everything we do, and where each of us takes ownership in driving our own development. On-the-job learning accounts for a significant percentage of an individual’s development. In FY17, we assessed the relevance of our offerings in line with our growth strategy, future needs and business goals. As a result, our ERM Academy includes new content and programs to align with our strategy and grow our strategic capability while responding to the changing needs of the learner.

For example, the ERM Academy team helped develop training on the ERM-Way of Account Management, our global approach to account management. The training introduces our Account Directors to advanced concepts and best practices for building stronger relationships by addressing our client’s needs.

Every new employee completes mandatory training and local induction activities so that they can carry out their work safely and in compliance with ERM governance requirements and policies, our clients and relevant legislation.

Christina Phang, Partner - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

In September 2017, Christina Phang, ERM Partner, will be presented with the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) Franklin Medal, one of the most prestigious accolades in the Chemical Engineering community.

Christina has also been invited to become Chairman of the Board for IChemE in Malaysia for a 2-year term. She was elected to the Board as an Executive member 3 years ago.

I am honored to have been recognized by IChemE for the contribution I have made to Process Safety. During my 20-year career at ERM, I have had many opportunities to apply my skills in an entrepreneurial and competitive environment, helping our clients to address the technical safety aspects of their projects and operations in a cost-effective manner.

Christina Phang, Partner - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Leadership pipeline

Partner-led teams collaborate to deploy the right people for the right job. These teams have access to our entire ERM workforce, spanning different geographies and sectors in order to meet our evolving client needs. This structure also enables ERM employees to deepen their professional experience by supporting projects worldwide.

Our Partner-in-training Program aims to develop a leadership pipeline that can sustain our growth and our ability to meet our clients’ needs into the future.

At the annual New Partner Integration workshop held in September 2016, we introduced a session on the Sustainable Development Goals that explored the ways ERM can make a contribution through our own operations, by working with clients, and through the ERM Foundation. The new Partners participated in breakout groups, where they discussed these issues in the context of ERM’s new strategy and purpose statement, “Shaping a sustainable future with the world’s leading organizations.” The workshop is part of a comprehensive program to support new Partners as they transition into the Partnership and accelerate their effectiveness in their new role.

ERM’s Aspire Program helps high-potential Senior Consultants accelerate their development and mature in their role, which supports our succession management planning. In 2017, several Aspire teams are contributing to our new strategy implementation, focusing on projects such as developing ERM’s response to the Sustainable Development Goals and enhancing our methodologies to measure our impact on the sustainability challenges that face us all.

ERM’s Board of Directors appointed Keryn James as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) effective April 2017. Keryn, ERM’s first female CEO, has been with ERM for 24 years – starting her career as an entry-level consultant and working her way to the top of the organization. She is an experienced executive with an extensive history in the sustainability consulting industry. During her tenure at ERM, she has held responsibility for client development, project delivery, people leadership and operational performance. Keryn has been a member of ERM’s Executive Committee since 2008 and an Executive Director of the Board since 2015. For the 2 years prior to being promoted to CEO, Keryn held the position of Global Director of Operations. 

  • FY17 targets

    5% incremental increase in the ratio of female Partners


    20.1% female Partners (target 21.1%)

  • 5% incremental increase in the ratio of female Senior Consultants

    34% female Senior Consultants (target 32.2%)

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