Embracing DEI

Oct 29, 2023

Shirley Che

A spotlight on progress and valuable resources for workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

According to recent data from McKinsey, 95 percent of CEOs believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives should be a top priority, demonstrating that there are significantly more of us who value these programs than not. While a small minority may remain skeptical, it’s heartening to see the growing realization that workplace DEI initiatives not only reflect ethical values but also make sound business sense.

It’s encouraging to see that 44 percent of CEOs have developed formal, actionable DEI strategies, according to McKinsey. While there’s still much work to do, there have been several impactful resources launched over the past few months that I’d like to share:

  • ACEC Research Institute’s Diversity Roadmap Benchmarking Tool, developed in partnership with Zweig Group, provides ACEC member firms and ElevateHER® cohort members with a structured approach to assess, monitor, and advance their DEI efforts over time. This tool offers quantitative and qualitative benchmarking, and empowers participating firms to fine-tune their DEI programs and identify areas for improvement. The Research Institute even unveiled the first round of results two weeks ago at their national conference!
  • The 2023 ElevateHER® cohort concluded their year-long participation in the program last month with the release of their thesis and final deliverables. Their work, along with that of all the past cohorts, is now available as open-source resources to the AEC industry at large, and includes:
    • A guidebook that offers tangible ways to find funds to support your firm’s employee resource groups and other DEI initiatives.
    • A framework and journal for self-advocacy – that’s a plan and the tool to execute the plan.
    • Best practices for a successful and sustainable mentorship program.
    • Library kits that are bursting with books, resources, and engaging activities designed to spark curiosity in young minds and nurture their interest in AEC careers from an early age.
    • A growth mindset framework that can be leveraged by change agents at AEC organizations to gain buy-in from leadership to meaningfully get behind DEI initiatives.
  • LeanIn released the 2023 Women in the Workplace report earlier this month. While there’s sizeable gains in senior leadership, women remain underrepresented at all levels in the corporate world.
  • SMPS’s new inclusive language glossary promotes inclusivity in how we speak, write, and present ourselves across the AEC industry.

And here are some good, foundational resources that I refer back to often:

This short list of resources shows just how much work different organizations and individuals have done to advance diversity, equity and inclusion. I want to urge that we continue to read, reference, and promote the work that has already been done. We need to look for ways to collaborate, because there’s no reason and no need to start from scratch every time. This mission is not a competition; it needs to be a cross-organizational effort so we can move the needle a little faster and a little more impactfully.

If you’re interested in making an impact today, I encourage you to apply to join the 2024 ElevateHER® cohort or support the program as a sponsor. I hope to see you all at the 2024 ElevateHER® Symposium in Irving, Texas, this March. This event brings together bold and powerful panel discussions, DEI-focused keynote presentations from industry leading change agents, and select presentations from past ElevateHER® cohorts’ research findings and team projects. Click here to learn more about the symposium

Shirley Che is director of field marketing, learning, and ElevateHER® at Zweig Group. Contact her at sche@zweiggroup.com.

2024 ElevateHER® Symposium This symposium – intended for anyone interested in solving the AEC industry’s recruitment and retention challenges through the lens of DEI – brings powerful panel discussions, DEI-focused keynote presentations from industry leading change agents, and select presentations from past ElevateHER® cohorts. Join us March 6 in Irving, Texas. Click here to learn more!

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.