3月 1, 2021

Over the past year, Gresham Smith has embarked on the journey of expanding our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) program. We want to live out—every day—our core values of commitment, integrity, respect and teamwork by respecting each voice, perspective and dimension that makes us human. Our mission of embracing the intrinsic value of others and providing support to underrepresented groups led to the formation of a firmwide Advisory Group. The members of this group will provide knowledge and insights in order to continue the conversation of our DE&I initiatives. They will be a source of transformative awareness, committed to welcoming a more connected culture that forces us outside of our comfort zones. At the end of the day, when we grow others, we grow ourselves. Keep reading to learn more about our exceptional Advisory Group co-chairs:

 

 

Why did you choose to become an Advisory Group member?

As an Advisory Group member, I want to ensure that the issues many of us endure on a daily basis are identified and addressed.

What is the top DE&I goal you wish to accomplish?

My top DE&I goal is expanding HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) recruitment.

How will we know we are successful in implementing DE&I initiatives?

We will show the success of these initiatives by creating an inclusive culture where all employees feel valued.

Lionel Butler
Assistant Project Manager
ERN Advisory At-Large
Tampa, FL

 

 

 

Why did you choose to become an Advisory Group member?

I want to be brave for both myself and for the LGBTQ+ community. There is still a stigma and so much misunderstanding that surrounds the LGBTQ+ community. I hope to be a voice for those who identify as LGBTQ+ and for those who are allies.

What is the top DE&I goal you wish to accomplish?

Equity is my main goal and purpose. As we better ourselves personally and as a firm, my hope is that every single person who walks through our doors feels a sense of belonging and equality. It is important that every person is treated equally, with the same opportunities for growth and learning, the same opportunities to advance their careers, the same benefits, and the same advantages. To be viewed without bias and treated with respect, no matter your creed, skin color, sexual orientation, gender, disability and so on.

How will we know we are successful in implementing DE&I initiatives?

I don’t think the work is ever done. However, I think we’ll know we’re successful once our efforts at Gresham Smith are reflected back in our community and our cities where we have influence. We have to set the example.

Brandon Salas
Corporate Recruiter
LGBTQ+ Chair
Nashville, TN

 

 

 

Why did you choose to become an Advisory Group member?

Experiencing roadblocks on my own career journey has led me to be passionate in seeking gender parity for all within the design and construction industry.

What is your top DE&I goal you wish to accomplish?

To aid in the development of a collective forum, where through exploration and transparency, we could build an even more inclusive and stronger workforce.

How will we know we are successful in implementing DE&I initiatives?

An immediate indicator will not only be the attraction of new female talent to the firm, but most importantly the retention of our current staff. Longer term, the Women’s ERN strives to draw more young women into the design and construction industry. Awareness, interest and encouragement begin at a very young age. We want to be accessible and integral to their career journey as they consider their interests and where they can lead!

Jessica Smith, NCIDQ
Project Designer
Women’s Group Chair
Tampa, FL

 

 

 

Why did you choose to become an Advisory Group member?

I felt passionate about helping people deal with aging parents or loved ones because it can be very tough at times. The feeling of not knowing what to do for loved ones can be stressful.

What is the top DE&I goal you wish to accomplish?

I wish to ease the burden and speed up the process of finding resources when dealing with aging parents and perhaps be a sounding board for those who need a listening ear.

How will we know we are successful in implementing DE&I initiatives?

I will know our efforts have been successful when I hear that someone was able to quickly deal with their needs.

Mark Humphrey
Project Executive
Parent/Caregiver ERN Chair
Nashville, TN

 

 

 

Why did you choose to become an Advisory Group member?

I believe in the mantra: “Be the change you want to see.” As a result, I elected to make a commitment to serve as an Advisory Group Member. I want to ensure that the DE&I efforts are not just setting an agenda or duplicating diversity initiatives that seem to work in other organizations. Instead, I want to make certain the DE&I efforts of Gresham Smith fit the needs of the employees of our firm. I want to be a part of the development of a more diverse culture at Gresham Smith.

What is the top DE&I goal you wish to accomplish?

My top goal for DE&I is to see diversity and equity in leadership positions and career development.

How will we know we are successful in implementing DE&I initiatives?

We will know the implementation of the initiatives are successful because diverse individuals will be easily identified on Gresham Smith’s external and internal platforms. In addition, we will see diverse individuals in leadership positions.

NaKeeta Batson
Project Manager
IMAGE Chair
Midtown Atlanta, GA

 

 

 

What is the top DE&I goal you wish to accomplish?

With the end in mind, my goal is to make sure that we stay focused on outreach efforts to help students dream and get excited about the possibilities of being part of the A/E industry. We have to start the dialog as early as elementary school—educating, mentoring and building relationships—if we expect to dramatically expand our pipeline of diverse candidates.

Carolyn Kitts
Director of Human Resources
ERN Advisory At-Large
Nashville, TN

 

 

 

Why did you choose to become an Advisory Group member?

I was honored when I was asked to serve on the DE&I Advisory Group. I felt that I could contribute to Gresham Smith’s efforts to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive environment. I have been in the transportation engineering industry since 1989 when I graduated from Georgia Tech and started working for GDOT (Georgia Department of Transportation). From the time I started, I was often a “first”—the first African American female to hold certain positions at GDOT, and the first to hold offices and board positions in professional societies. It was very rewarding having been given opportunities to do things that no one who looked like me had ever done before and to break down those barriers. At the same time, it was sometimes scary and isolating. I felt tremendous pressure not to screw up for myself or anyone coming in after me.

In 2019, I chaperoned my daughter and a group of students from Chamblee Charter High School’s chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) to the NSBE 45th Annual Convention in Detroit, Michigan. Even at my age, I was blown away by the sight of the tens of thousands of African American engineers and aspiring engineers that I saw there. In addition to recruiting, professional development and networking, the convention featured elementary, junior high, high school and collegiate programs. I can only imagine how inspiring the convention was to the young people, and how attainable their dreams of becoming an engineer became. It certainly resonated with me, even being a practicing engineer for over 30 years. I was so proud. And it was so evident to me that it matters—seeing people like you, doing the things that you, yourself, hope to do someday. It truly matters.

What is the top DE&I goal you wish to accomplish?

My hope is that by serving on the DE&I Advisory Group, I can play some small part in making engineering more attractive to minority students and more rewarding for our young professionals. I want to help alleviate the stresses that can come from feelings of not belonging and from the isolation that can come from being a “first” or an “only.” I want to help remove obstacles that both African Americans and females sometimes face in careers such as this, whether those obstacles are the result of institutional racism or unconscious biases. I want to be a part of a support system that acknowledges the dissimilar experiences minorities in engineering may have from their majority counterparts and to help them find pathways through (or around) those experiences to a long and successful career. I can certainly provide insights into this from my own career, being arguably equal parts “role model” and “cautionary tale.”

How will we know we are successful in implementing DE&I initiatives?

I want to help Gresham Smith be a place where there can still be notable “firsts” in minorities and women in architecture and engineering, but few “onlys”, and no “lasts.”

Carla Holmes, P.E., PTOE
Senior Transportation Engineer
ERN Advisory At-Large
Alpharetta, GA