Building a More Inclusive AEC Industry
At Entuitive, we believe that greater diversity and inclusion can drive improved outcomes in our business. In addition to our Inclusion, Diversity & Belonging Strategy we are working more broadly to drive change across the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Industry (or, AEC Industry). It is our mission to achieve a welcoming and inclusive place for people of different genders, orientations, ethnicities, ages, abilities, and skills throughout the company, from entry level positions to our leadership and ownership groups. We are committed to building an organization that mirrors the communities we live, work and build in, and we strive to be better tomorrow than we are today with this important work.
This article breaks down why greater Inclusion, Diversity & Belonging is important for our industry, what we can do to help achieve it, and how Entuitive is playing our part.
The State of Inclusion in Our Industry
Based on research conducted by AEC Advisors, the AEC industry has improved little in the last five years on gender and racial diversity. AEC Advisors also points out that there is a strong business case in favour of the shift to more diverse workplaces. Their research shows that in the US Top DE&I firms have 32% higher profit margins than the industry median (20% vs 15.2%). So, why so slow?
The case is similar in Canada. According to Engineers Canada, women make up over half of the Canadian population and yet they’re significantly underrepresented in engineering education and in the profession. The 2011 study, “STEMming the Tide: Why women leave engineering” highlights some of the barriers that are present for women in our industry. The study found that:
- More than two-thirds of the women who left engineering ended up working in another field, and half of those rose to executive positions only five years after leaving engineering.
- Nearly half of women left engineering due to working conditions, such as too much travel, a lack of advancement, or low salary.
- Thirty per cent left engineering due to the organizational culture.
- Twenty-five per cent left engineering because they wanted more time with their family.
Although all Canadians should have the same opportunities to enter – and stay in – engineering, accessibility and feasibility are not the same for all demographic groups; largely due to systemic barriers that disproportionately impact underrepresented groups.
Improving Inclusivity and Belonging
Just as studies have been conducted on how women fare in the AEC workplace, studies have also been conducted that focus on ways to improve diversity and inclusion beyond the AEC industry.
Reasons to improve diversity in our teams include better design – there is research that suggests a diverse range of perspectives informing the design process can lead to better designs, as the people who use the buildings and infrastructure we build come from different backgrounds and may use and interact with spaces differently. In fact, an article in Scientific American points to the fact that being around a diversity of people makes us more productive, claiming that we become more creative, more diligent, and harder working when we’re surrounded by a diverse group of individuals. There is also research that suggests when we improve diversity on our teams we become more profitable.
It’s important that we as an industry recognize these benefits and leverage them in conversations devoted to how we can improve inclusion, diversity, and belonging outcomes within our organizations.
What We’re Doing
Entuitive’s history with Inclusion, Diversity, and Belonging stretches back several years with a formal strategy launch in late 2020. We have since introduced a complete IDB strategy that is based on three key areas: Build, Grow, and Lead. We have added four employee resource groups that are showcased in this published article. Since the ERG inception we have worked hard to advocate, educate, and celebrate all members of the Entuitive community.
In 2021 we sponsored the non-profit organization Catalyst to support our efforts and training. In 2022 we launched firmwide training and leader-specific training in partnership with the CCDI. You can see our high-level IDB commitment here and read what was accomplished in 2021 here. As part of our continued commitment to our community we’ve upgraded our employee benefits to include a family leave program, providing income continuation for any parent of a new baby. Since the launch of this program five per cent of our employee population has taken advantage of it. We have a larger percentage of uptake on this program from our male employees over our female employees.
How are we doing in our employees’ eyes? In 2020, we launched our first Inclusion, Diversity, and Belonging survey. When we surveyed our staff again in 2021, our overall inclusion score was 74%, a 4.6% increase year over year.
While we’ve made steady progress on our IDB initiatives at Entuitive, we know there is more work to be done.
As we’re halfway through 2022, we have more in store.
We will be participating in Construction Inclusion Week in October 2022. We’re working with our employee resource groups to identify community groups and associations we can sponsor and support. Recently, we were a named sponsor on the launch of the Queer Infrastructure Network and a sponsor for the Women in Transportation group, both in Toronto. We sponsored a YWCA event in Edmonton featuring a female Indigenous author and speaker, Brandi Morin, who will launch her new book “Our Voice of Fire”.
Our Inclusion, Diversity & Belonging strategy is based on a ten-year plan. As we move toward 2030 what we’re hoping to achieve is a workplace that is barrier-free and inclusive. We pride ourselves on being a place where people can feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work each day and we hope to continue down a path where that becomes even more true.
If you’d like to learn more about Entuitive’s Inclusion, Diversity, and Belonging strategy or you’d like to discuss ways to collaborate on bringing more inclusion to our industry, you can reach out to Michelle Cogan, Alison Wood, or Jennifer Longworth.