In recent years, Graham Construction, one of our WES 2023 Ambassador Sponsors, has been on a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion journey.
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 DEI ”lens”” to all of their practices: from re-examining policies, procedures, to training and development; they want to ensure they promote an inclusive culture, as well as examine the employee experience for a diverse variety of employee needs.
In their own words, some of their current initiatives include:
- A refresh of our 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. Some examples of these behaviors include empathy, emotional intelligence, and trustworthiness. As leaders receive feedback and assess their own behaviors, they will be able to identify any gaps and provide any necessary support to close them.
- We recently relaunched our Respectful Workplace Training and we are currently working on launching our updated Respectful Workplace Policy. Launched in 2019, our Respectful Workplace Training is mandatory for all employees to complete. The updated training examines microaggressions, psychological safety, and provides scenarios and examples to help bridge the interconnectivity of respect and DEI.
- In February 2022, we 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 our 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. We plan to host a second Women in Construction Forum in 2024.
- This past March, we celebrated International Women’s Day and Women in Construction Week. We hosted our first bias training session that was focused on biases women face in the workplace. The session was so well received that we hosted a second session during Pride Month and intend to hold future sessions focused on specific themes.
- This past Pride Month, we set out to celebrate Pride and educate our workforce on sexually and gender diverse peoples. We kicked off the month with an address from our CEO, discussing what Pride means to our organization. We hosted an external webinar that provided education on gender and sexually diverse people. We hosted our second bias training session, which was specifically tailored to biases that gender and sexually diverse people face. We closed out the month with our Paint with Pride, an event to raise proceeds and collect gently used clothing for Transforming Style, an organization that provides support, beauty and styling services, and wardrobe to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. The Pride Progress flag was painted on the crosswalk at our Calgary Corporate office parking lot and participants painted a trail of hearts and other symbols leading from the crosswalk. The reception to the crosswalk has been very positive, employees who are part of the community or adjacent to the community have shared their appreciation for the event with us.
- Last year, we launched our Dates of Significance Calendar, which highlights significant observances that are sometimes not included on a standard calendar. In addition to the Dates of Significance Calendar, we also launched the DEI SharePoint page and the DEI Yammer, a social networking tool that allows two-way communication for our employees and for the business to discuss DEI related content. The DEI SharePoint has been a hub for all things DEI, containing our DEI Commitment Statement, Strategy, and other DEI related resources. The calendar, SharePoint site, and Yammer have been meaningful tools to our employees, allowing them to maintain their curiosity and seek out opportunities to understand the experiences of others.
For Graham, the most challenging aspect is to foster a culture where inclusion thrives. 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.
- We hosted The Women in Construction forum, as mentioned, and we work hard to provide development and learning opportunities for women in leadership and within the industry:
- Our US operations are partnered with ANEW, a trades rotational program that offers job training to women to prepare them for careers in the construction trades. As part of this program, our staff volunteer 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, we nominate 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). Through our work with Jardeg and our allied partners, we continue 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.
- We have had success at the community/regional level in partnering with organizations that employ under-represented groups. In Calgary, we’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 our more experienced employees move toward retirement, our 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 us to continue to leverage their experience in expertise in the business while also providing our employees with flexibility and accommodation.
An area of opportunity for us in terms of DEI is in our recruitment and talent acquisition efforts. To address this, we are developing a talent acquisition strategy that encourages inclusive practices. We aim to leverage this strategy to minimize bias and seek out, network and attract more diverse candidates. We 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 – 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.”