As Pond’s new VP of HR, I cannot tell you how proud it makes me to hear our company leaders say we need to do more to promote diversity and inclusion. You see, our workforce is already more racially and ethnically diverse than the typical architecture and engineering firm, but that is not enough. One in 10 of our employees is a proud military veteran, but that is not enough. We now have more women in leadership positions than at any time in Pond’s history, but that is not enough.
We are committed to cultivating a culture where everyone can thrive and reach their full potential, not only because it’s the right thing to do for our employees but because it’s the right thing to do for our clients. The complex engineering challenges they bring to us deserve the highest level of creativity and innovation – the kind that’s only achievable when people of diverse backgrounds and experiences connect, collaborate, and challenge the status quo. Diversity of thought is what drives meaningful innovation.
Advancing diversity and inclusion is a team initiative. Senior leaders set the tone. Our HR team plays a central role in attracting, retaining, and developing our diverse workforce. But the real work of inclusivity happens employee to employee and moment by moment. When individuals seek to understand first before being understood, choose to embrace differences, and respect each other’s cultures and opinions.
President Biden’s recent act of signing legislation to make Juneteenth a national holiday provides an important opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come and assess what more can and should be done. As we observe Juneteenth, a day to recognize and celebrate the end of slavery and the freedom of all people in the United States, I’d encourage all of us to consider what we can personally do to create an environment where those around us feel empowered to bring the totality of their experiences to the table. Whether that be through the use of new meeting formats that solicit participation from everyone (Here are some good suggestions) or the addition of your preferred pronouns to your email signature and social media profiles, there are ways both large and small we can signal to others that we value, understand and appreciate them.