by Sean O’Brien
In the face of crisis, like those brought on by recent events, the focus moves to preserving life and livelihood. We all have a responsibility to keep our employees safe, support the communities we live in, serve our clients, and protect our companies. The focus can move to what’s “urgent” at the expense of what’s “important” if we’re not careful. Driving diversity and inclusion is important and something that we should emphasize every day, especially in challenging times.
BSC Group, an engineering, planning, and environmental consulting firm, was able to pivot and adapt during this crisis and time of uncertainty. The cultural changes supported by our Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Program is one of the reasons why. We rolled out our employee-developed D&I initiative in August of 2019. The goals were to encourage employees to consider D&I more holistically, and to further a culture distinguished by a strong feeling of inclusion that would permeate through the organization. Our D&I program promotes an inclusive culture that values diverse individuals, perspectives, and opinions. We get better questions, better answers, and a greater sense of fulfilment as a result. The effect on the firm has been profound since we rolled out the initiative.
The positive impact of the D&I Program was immediately evident as we began to work remotely. When Governor Baker issued the stay-at-home advisory, our employees were faced with daunting daycare and schooling challenges that would disrupt work-life balance, change daily flows, and induce stress. Our D&I committee quickly recognized the importance of these challenges and got to work. They created an Employee Resource Group (ERG) for working parents, the group of employees that would be most impacted. The ERG quickly grew and gained traction as its members learned that they weren’t alone, had peers with helpful ideas, and had suggestions to offer others.
Our D&I initiatives are infiltrating the firm. In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, BSC kicked off a BSC Strides into Summer Challenge. This team-building challenge engages everyone, especially those who are feeling isolated, and helps improve our physical, emotional, and mental health. We can get our steps in whether we’re alone, with our families, chasing the kids, or walking the dog.
Our D&I meetings provide me with a better understanding of employees’ fears, frustrations, and challenges. We’re all in this together, yet it’s different for everyone. We can now better support various home situations – working parents, caretakers, those living alone, and those living with healthcare or other essential workers.
The importance and popularity of the D&I Program has grown. We’ve invested in other ERGs, internal initiatives, and external programs like “All in for Advancement” through the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce (GBCC). These changes have benefited our staff and culture and we’re thrilled to have been recognized for these achievements. BSC was recently named the WTS-Boston Employer of the Year and we also received the Small Business of the Year Award for Cultural Excellence from the GBCC.
We don’t know what the “new normal” will look like, but we’ll be ready to face it. At BSC, we’re accelerating and expanding our D&I efforts. D&I allows us to see challenges differently and consider broader solutions for our employees, our clients, and our communities. The recent events provided us all with a new appreciation for what it feels like to be uncertain and disconnected. Let’s learn from it and work to be more inclusive and open to new ideas.
The positive result is that BSC is experiencing greater inclusion than ever, and we will come out of this stronger because of it.
Sean O’Brien, PE is president and CEO of BSC Group.