By Tim Dunn, PE
In the past couple of years, the engineering industry has seen a lot of movement in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion. I find that aspect of work culture to be very important, as do a lot of people. There are some who may feel like DEI initiatives are overused these days. This can have the unwanted effect of pushing them away and making the issue seem less important than it is. At the end of the day, no matter what industry you work in, there will be a diverse array of human beings who make up your staff and the hiring pool you are recruiting from. It is important that organizations – including those in consulting engineering – recognize this and make efforts to support employees and candidates from all backgrounds.
Urban Engineers has long supported internal networking groups for staff, like the Urban Younger Members Forum and the Urban Women’s Professional Network. When I returned to the firm – after having taken a few years off to travel – I saw an opportunity to start up an LGBTQ+ employee resource group at the company, which has been a common resource in other industries. I realized that this group can be a benefit to both employees and the firm. When our resource group – which we aptly named the Urban Alliance – began to meet, we realized that our purpose became more than just rainbow flags or sharing an occasional post on social media. Our purpose is about awareness and the internal culture of the company.
As an employee resource group, our goal is to inform the company about the LGBTQ+ community and help it to cultivate those dynamics, as there are many of us already in the firm and many great potential employees out there who can help lead our future success. The Urban Alliance has hosted virtual and in-person meet-ups open to all employees to connect. Our group has provided firm-wide communication about the history of the LGBTQ+ community in America, as well as profiles of members and allies to create connection and familiarity between staff who work in different offices, remotely, and in the field. We’ve worked with our human resources team to incorporate new documentation and verbiage in Urban’s handbook to promote actionable inclusivity. We plan to continue these actions to foster more context and understanding among one another.
Having a cultural understanding of a wide range of human beings will help garner the best of them. It brings out excellence, which has long been a motto at Urban. We want to hire the best talent there is in this world, and I think the best way to do that is to get talent from every aspect of life. When Urban is hiring people that are from diverse backgrounds, whether it be their race, religion, sexual orientation, age, veteran status, or other identifier, it is important that we understand those dynamics and give a comfortable, motivating space for all to work in. That will create a diversified team environment at Urban and a great end product for our clients.
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