by Yvonne Alston
With a worldwide spotlight on racial reckonings, gender pay gaps and related social issues, diversity, equity and inclusion (commonly referred to as DEI) has become a hot topic and focus of organizations across the globe. Historically, the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry has remained, let’s just say, a less than diverse arena. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that women account for less than 30% of architects and Blacks only about 7%. In engineering, 16% of civil engineers are women and 3.9% are Black. A recent Autodesk article indicates that only 20% of engineers are disabled [persons].
The lack of diversity and inclusion and the issue of racism in the industry has begun to make headlines. So, it’s important that AEC firms prioritize DEI within their organizations to benefit their workforce, better reflect the multicultural clients and communities they serve, and recognize how DEI positively impacts their reputation.
In addition to these advantages, reputable studies report that organizations often realize increased creativity and problem-solving capacities; outperformance of non-diverse competitors in profitability; attraction and retention of diverse, top talent; expansion opportunities in new markets; and greater resiliency in economic turbulence.
Just ask Dan Titus, CEO of HRP Associates, an environmental consultancy headquartered in Farmington, Conn. Seeking to build a more equitable and inclusive workforce of the future, HRP partnered with Indelible Impressions Consulting, LLC, a DEI strategy firm also based in Connecticut. “The world is changing for the better and the marketplace is pushing our industry to reflect those changes,” notes Titus. “Of course, change is never easy. That’s why we sought and partnered with a DEI firm that has the skills to help transform our culture, and a kind and steady hand to guide us along the journey.”
When undertaking a DEI program, partnering with a third party consultant can be extremely beneficial. With an objective lens and a strategic viewpoint, consultants can help organizations identify and address their barriers and help evolve their workforce to grow and thrive. And that’s exactly what HRP and its consultant were able to do: assess and analyze HRP’s culture; pinpoint its growth opportunities; employ strategic tactics to advance its justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI) education and goals; and begin policy reformation efforts.
A holistic approach DEI program can help organizations not only attain their long-term culture objectives and goals but also realize transformations along the way. At the midpoint of its 2021 DEI program, HRP is already seeing the benefits including more open communication and positive behavior changes at various levels of the organization and enthusiasm toward its newly established JEDI program.
Armed with new tools and resources, HRP is excited about its future as a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive AEC firm and hopes to be an example for the industry. Titus says, “Making this investment, especially during the pandemic, was a challenge. But I can say with confidence that this partnership was among our best uses of resources this past year. I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
Yvonne Alston is founder and principal of Indelible Impressions Consulting, LLC.