By Lisa Kay, from The Zweig Letter by Zweig Group
The Zweig Letter is a management newsletter for the architecture, engineering and environmental consulting industry. Lisa Kay’s article on diversity and inclusion was recently featured in The Zweig Letter.
Diversity and inclusion are good for your bottom line. To get the right people, you have to cast your net in the right places, and jettison the bias.
It’s alarming. According to 100 percent of the women surveyed in Zweig Group’s 2018 Principals, Partners & Owners Survey, there is a lack of diversity – across age, race, and gender – in their firms. Even more alarming, 100 percent of the women surveyed have considered leaving the AEC industry for another field. Only 49 percent of the men surveyed have considered leaving the industry for another field. Are women seeing the opportunities to advance in our field? And, if not, what can we do about it?
The January 2018 McKinsey report, Delivering Growth Through Diversity, found that the most gender diverse companies – top quartile – were 21 percent more likely to experience above average profitability. For ethnic and cultural diversity, they found a 33 percent higher likelihood of EBIT margin outperformance. It’s widely thought that divergent thinking coupled with the synergies that come from cultural, ethnic, and gender diversity are what drive this business success.
In the first law of its kind in the U.S., California is legislating diversity. California requires every publicly traded company incorporated in California, or with headquarters in the state, to have at least one woman on their board of directors by the end of 2019 – or face penalties. The more board members a company has, the more women directors it must add. By 2021, companies with four board seats or less must have at least one female director; those with five must have two female directors; and those with six or more board members must have at least three female directors. As of late summer 2018, only 15.8 percent of the board seats in publicly traded California companies in the Russell 300 Index were held by women, according to Bloomberg.
In a 2017 Deloitte survey on board of director diversity, business leaders, at 95 percent, overwhelmingly agreed on the value of diversity and that their boards should source diverse candidates with diverse perspectives and skills. The study found a large part of the problem lies in board recruitment and candidate sourcing practices. Most boards source candidates from their own industries, or from other boards where women only represent 16 percent of the total candidate pool, and where racial minorities only represent 19 percent of the candidates sourced. This narrowing of the candidate pool through looking at industries and boards is logical from an experience base, but it also means boards are only seeing candidates similar to themselves.
What can we do to advance our industry and create more diversity within our firms?
We must each accept that we are biased and try to create clear processes to keep those biases from impacting our recruiting, hiring, and promoting practices.
What are your best practices to increase AEC industry diversity?
Click here to read this article on The Zweig Letter's website.