Achieve greater business success and improve employee work satisfaction by actively working toward a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive company.
We recently formed the D.H. Charles Engineering Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force. We didn’t have to do it; employees weren’t clamoring for it, nor were there any issues or events that forced our hand. At DHC, we continually strive to better our workplace environment, so, naturally, we wanted to form this group to improve as individuals and as a company and to make the DHC work experience even better for our employees. We want to bring awareness to the importance of DEI in the workplace and integrate best practices for fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce into our culture. We are an approximately 30-person structural engineering firm that provides construction engineering services.
The benefits of diversity in companies are well documented. In general, a more diverse workplace brings different perspectives to the table, which invariably increases performance. Having a diverse workforce brings a variety of experiences and talents to the table that can lead to more creativity and better results. When employees identify better with others, their communication improves, leading to more productivity. They usually can then more easily consider varied viewpoints and grow more sophisticated ways of getting the job done. From a profitability standpoint, companies with a more diverse workforce achieve a 15 percent to 35 percent performance advantage (above the national median), over those companies without, per a McKinsey study titled “Why Diversity Matters.”
For us, forming the committee was only the first step. After our initial meeting, we did some brainstorming and research to decide what we think needs to be done. We surveyed the company workforce and presented a plan to the company ownership/leadership, which was approved wholeheartedly. Our plan is divided into short-term and long-term goals across the following categories: Education & Awareness, Recruitment & Hiring, and Retention & Development. Within each of these groupings we have very specific action items with goals, costs, and timelines. We foresee dividing up these tasks between our committee members and engaged employees, and making a push to integrate the results into our company workflow. We intend to meet regularly as part of our work on the DEI Task Force.
Some immediate action items are to expand employee resources, such as libraries and employee resource groups, and to acknowledge significant holidays for various cultural, religious, and ethnic groups. Educating ourselves and learning about each other’s experiences is a good way to begin understanding each other’s perspectives – helping to bridge the gap between our differences. We will look to add these educational components to our everyday workflow through company meetings, regular emails, and monthly newsletters.
There are many more action items that will take a significant amount of effort to accomplish, but we look forward to working hard to achieve our goals. We are looking forward to working with an outside diversity consultant to help us with these objectives. Some of our larger, long-term goals include overhauling our hiring to process to help with our diverse talent pipeline, encouraging employee resource groups, and reviewing compensation for gaps between employees. We are diverse in many ways, but still have challenges to work on. We aren’t only trying to shore up our weaknesses, but are working toward a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive company in order to achieve greater business success and improve employee work satisfaction.
Andrew Schwarz, PE, SE, LEED AP, is a branch manager at D.H. Charles Engineering, Inc. Connect with him on LinkedIn.