Graham, our WES 2022 Ambassador, champions successful initiatives in regards to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).
We asked them to share their DEI journey, initiatives and some examples showcasing their commitment in actively implementing strategies towards a unified organizational culture that embraces the diverse contributions and needs of their employees.
“Our vision is to advance a culture that regards diversity, equity, and inclusion as critical to the future of this organization. Last summer, we released our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commitment Statement, and are now ready to launch our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategy, formalizing our commitment to transparency, re-evaluating our internal practices and evolving our culture. The intention of our DEI commitment statement is to unify and align the organization. We are working to foster a community that is intentionally inclusive, consisting of leaders who examine and challenge inequities. By holding each other accountable, we will create an environment in which diversity thrives.”
Embedding DEI into their business required time and considerable effort. Graham started applying a EDI “”lens”” to everything they do: from re-examining policies, procedures, to training and development; they want to ensure the promotion of an inclusive culture and examining the employee experience for a diverse variety of employee needs.
Some of their current initiatives include:
- A refresh of their 360-feedback process. With this refreshed tool, leaders will be provided with an Inclusion index assessment. Aligned with the behaviors and competencies expected from them, they have tied specific behaviors that would demonstrate inclusive leadership qualities. Behaviors such as empathy, emotional intelligence, and trustworthiness for example. As leaders receive feedback from their peers, their manager, their employees and assess their own behaviors, they will be able to identify any gaps and provide any necessary support to close them.
- A relaunch of their Respectful Workplace Training. Originally launched in 2019, their Respectful Workplace Training is mandatory for all employees to complete. The re-launch will maintain respectful behaviors as the foundation and elevate behaviors to be truly inclusive. The new training will examine microaggressions, psychological safety, provide scenarios and examples to help bridge the interconnectivity of respect and DEI.
- In February 2022, Graham hosted an internal Women in Construction Forum. This day-long event featured a blend of keynote speakers, panel discussions, and a working session for participants. This was an opportunity for their employees to exchange and understand different perspectives, and to provide participants with a forum to contribute ideas on the future of professional development and a sustainable DEI focus within the organization.
- This past June, Pride month, Graham hosted a webinar for Graham employees to provide education on Gender and Sexual Diversity others.
- They are soon launching a “Dates of Significance” Calendar and DEI intranet page. Their Dates of Significance calendar is a diversity awareness calendar, that will allow us to come together in recognition, celebration, and education of significant national and international dates that aren’t necessarily included on a standard calendar. The calendar and the intranet site bring awareness to important and meaningful days, to provide education, and to allow them all to be curious about and seek to understand the experiences of others.
For Graham, the most challenging aspect is to ensure the creation of an environment where diversity thrives. In their organization, building behavioral inclusion mindset and in relationships into their culture is part of their strategy. They hope to do this by embedding DEI into their current programs and ensuring the focus is on creating an inclusive environment where their employees feel they belong and feel valued for what they bring.
Graham hosted The Women in Construction forum mentioned and also provides development and learning opportunities for women in leadership and within the industry:
- In the US Graham partners with ANEW, which is a trades rotational program that offers job training to women to prepare them for careers in the construction trades. As part of this program, their staff volunteers their time by giving jobsite tours and conducting mock interviews. The jobsite tours give members a realistic preview of what it is like to work on a construction site. The mock interviews help members hone their interview skills, preparing them to succeed when they apply to union and non-union contractors.
- Each year, Graham nominates approximately 30 female employees to attend the Art of Leadership for Women Conference. This one-day event is an opportunity for our employees to listen to a collection of world leaders, business icons, academics, and best-selling authors who share strategies and insights on the most critical topics confronting women leaders in our world. It is a day of world-class learning, networking, and championing change for women for a sustainable tomorrow.
- Graham has been named an Employer of Choice with Women Building Futures (WBF) and is excited about the opportunity for the industry. The construction industry has long been unrepresented by women and by partnering with WBF. They’ve had the opportunity to transform women’s lives by removing barriers and ultimately helping transition the industry into a more diverse workforce that will help address our industry’s looming workforce shortage.
- Through their work with Jardeg and our allied partners, Graham continues to play an important role in encouraging more women into our industry and our workplace. An Edmonton-based organization, WBF provides comprehensive support and training to prepare women for successful entry into the trades. This program continues to provide access to excellent candidates that are ready to hit the ground running with appropriate safety and skills training, allowing for a quick transition to a focus on scope and site-specific development in pursuit of a trade certification.
Graham had success at community/regional level in partnering with organizations that employ under-represented groups. In Calgary for example, they’ve partnered with Norquest College and the Autism Can-Tech program to provide meaningful employment to individuals with autism and have also provided a number of work opportunities for individuals from the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association and the Immigrant Education Society.
As their experienced employees move toward retirement, their Flexible Work Arrangement policy enables these employees to move to a permanent part-time arrangement, so that they can ease into retirement if they so choose. This allows them to continue to leverage their experience in expertise in the business while also providing them with flexibility and accommodation.
An area of opportunity for us in terms of DEI is in their recruitment and talent acquisition efforts. To address this, Graham is developing a talent acquisition strategy that encourages inclusive practices. They aim to leverage this strategy to minimize bias and seek out, network and attract more diverse candidates. They will align the campus strategy, recruitment tools, process and procedures to this strategy and ensure the Talent Acquisition team is positively influencing hiring practices overall, engaging with diverse talent and networking to build connections with under-represented groups.
When asked why DEI is so important, they said “Diversity in our workforce will ensure we will attract and retain the best talent, and become the best partner for our clients as we represent the communities that we build in. We need the skillset diversity brings – the innovation, creativity, and breadth of experience. That is why DEI is so important to our organization. Graham’s people are essential to the company’s future growth and success. Our individual differences and unique capabilities across our organization represent our culture, character, and achievement.”