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Building Inclusivity: How Shaw-Lundquist and DEI are Shifting the AEC Industry

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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion – three powerful words that are shaping the future of businesses across the globe. Each term stands for a different aspect of a human-centered approach. Diversity represents a mix of individuals, encompassing all the different characteristics that make us unique. Equity ensures that everyone has access to the same opportunities. Inclusion, on the other hand, is the practice of ensuring that everyone feels valued and part of the team.

In the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry, DEI holds particular importance. It’s an industry that builds the world around us, crafting the spaces where we live, work, and play. As such, it’s only fitting that this industry should reflect the diversity of the society it serves. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it makes good business sense.

Benefits of DEI in the AEC Industry

What does DEI bring to the table for AEC companies? A lot, as it turns out. Diverse teams bring a wider range of ideas and perspectives, fueling creativity and innovation. When a company champions DEI, it doesn’t just boost its reputation – it attracts a broader range of talent and a wider pool of clients. And let’s not forget the bottom line: research consistently shows that companies with a strong commitment to DEI are more profitable.

Current State of DEI in the AEC Industry

Despite its importance, DEI in the AEC industry is still a promising work in progress. The industry is grappling with a lack of diversity, particularly when it comes to women and people of color. But there are also shining examples of companies that are leading the way, showing us that change is both possible and profitable.

Shaw-Lundquist: A Leader in DEI

As a second-generation, family-owned, Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), Shaw-Lundquist is leading the way towards greater DEI in the AEC industry. Since 1974, Shaw-Lundquist has made an impact supporting minority- and women-owned businesses in construction. This commitment is apparent in every project.

By making DEI a central part of our business strategy, Shaw-Lundquist is not only building structures – it is building a stronger AEC industry. Our example serves as an example for other companies in the industry, showing that DEI is a business imperative.

Ways to Improve DEI within the AEC Industry

Improving DEI in the AEC industry starts with recruitment and hiring. Companies need to cast a wider net and search out talent in uncommon places. Inclusive practices reinforce personal value. From mentorship programs to flexible working arrangements, the future is full of possibilities.

  1. Promote Leadership Diversity: To truly embrace DEI, it’s critical for AEC firms to ensure representation from diverse backgrounds in leadership roles. This sends a strong message about the company’s commitment to DEI and influences the overall company culture.
  2. Provide DEI Training: Regular training sessions can help employees understand the importance of DEI and how to put it into practice. These sessions should also address unconscious bias and provide strategies to combat it.
  3. Foster a Culture of Inclusion: A culture of inclusion encourages everyone to participate and share their ideas. This can be achieved by promoting open communication and valuing differences.
  4. Implement Inclusive Hiring Practices: Create diverse interview panels, using inclusive language in job descriptions, and actively seek candidates from diverse backgrounds.
  5. Promote Supplier Diversity: AEC firms can extend their commitment to DEI by working with suppliers and contractors from different backgrounds.
  6. Establish DEI Goals and Metrics: It’s important to set clear, measurable goals for DEI and track progress over time. Companies can hold themselves accountable and make adjustments along the way.

The journey towards greater DEI in the AEC industry is a marathon, not a sprint. It requires commitment, investment, and a willingness to challenge the status quo. The reward – a more creative, innovative, and profitable business environment – makes it worth the effort, and then some. As we look to the future, here are the words of Verna Myers: “Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.” In the AEC industry, it’s time for everyone to hit the dance floor.

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