Alicia Albini, elevateHER cohort team help advance DEI in engineering industry
A WithersRavenel director has recently finished working with a nationwide group on a project to help advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within the AEC industry.
Alicia Albini, SI, LEED AP BD+C, is the Director of Residential-East at WithersRavenel. She was among a select group chosen to join the 2023 elevateHER Cohort sponsored by Zweig. The cohort was broken up into small groups, each tasked with developing a program to build a more diverse workforce while also addressing retention and recruitment challenges.
Alicia’s group first met in person in February at a sort of multi-day boot camp for all cohort members to launch the process and learn more about DEI initiatives and recruitment/retention strategies. After the kickoff, group members gathered virtually every two weeks, then weekly, to work further on their ideas.
Ultimately, Alicia’s TransformUS team of three AEC industry women from across the country created an e-book that can help companies encourage a growth mindset and incorporate DEI initiatives based on their organization and its leadership. After addressing the tangible benefits of having a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset, the e-book looks at how companies can implement a DEI action plan based on the company’s leadership. The three categories address:
Companies with no leadership buy-in
Companies with buy-in from leadership that don’t know where to start
Companies with buy-in from leadership that have made some DEI progress, but still need a culture shift
Within each category, the e-book provides a wealth of tools, resources, and statistics to help implement a growth mindset and DEI initiatives. Internal assessments, awareness, education, training, and development are some of the topics addressed. Retention and recruitment strategies and information are also covered, allowing employees and companies to build actionable plans.
The group’s many hours of work culminated in a finished project and a presentation at Zweig’s Elevate AEC Conference in Frisco, Texas.
“I really enjoyed working with a group of such talented people from across the United States,” Alicia said. “Everyone brought unique insights to the table. It was especially rewarding to, at the end, bring something meaningful to the AEC industry.”
In addition to the work of Alicia’s team, other exciting projects were launched. One cohort created a kit that can be taken into schools which introduces young students to the potential jobs and opportunities in the AEC industry.
“Hopefully we can capture the attention of those that might be interested in the industry at a much earlier age,” Alicia said, which will be crucial to address challenges with finding the next generation of workers in architecture, engineering, and construction.
Alicia said future cohorts can also build upon the work that her group and others created to make an even bigger impact with recruitment, retention, and DEI initiatives.
“I’m excited to see what comes of our work and the work of the other cohort groups.”
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