As Diversity, Equity and Inclusion becomes ever more mainstream news, the business community and their workplaces are an arena where efforts around these social movements are naturally experienced. For many businesses, it’s a new awakening. Others have a long history of leading by example in their corporate culture and directed programs.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion takes on a variety of meaning depending on your individual perspective. The community in which you were raised and its surrounding environment helped to shape your perspective on these sometimes-sensitive topics, and it’s important to have open, honest discussion in order to understand the various perspectives we as individuals bring to the proverbial table.
As with every person, my individual perspective is unique. I’m a Black man from the Deep South who has raised a family with my amazing wife and done business in the Southwest for 35 years. I’ve coached youth from across the country in football and was inducted into the American Youth Football National Hall of Fame in 2010. And I am president of Ritoch-Powell Associates civil engineering, land surveying and construction management firm, which has, for more than 40 years, touched every corner of the State of Arizona from roadways to light rail to airports to urban high-rises and rural master-planned communities — essentially, vital infrastructure for the use of all people.
As we integrate a diverse workforce, it’s imperative that employees have individual accountability and responsibility. Achieving integration can’t be a cookie-cutter approach. One of the key tenants to make this work in the “workplace” is to allow employees to have more control over when, where and how they work. That encompasses flexible hours and time away, and the freedom to work remotely.
DEI is not an issue that can be brought to some conclusion. Human relationships are continually evolving, and so must any programs built around DEI issues. The cover story in this January edition looks at several aspects — including a straight business bottom-line — that can help businesses understand the importance and impact of their DEI programs and gain insights to improve them.
Another feature article shares the stories of women who shucked the corporate ladder in companies where they felt they were being ignored or condescended to, and took the entrepreneurial route. They built successful enterprises using the same talents that their previous employers had stifled.
As businesses look to nurturing the best talent in their workforces, it may be helpful to take advantage of opportunities in volunteering. As Danielle Holly discusses in her article “Skills-based Volunteering: The Business Case,” businesses may find that contributing their professional expertise to nonprofits and community organizations provides employees with opportunities for personal and professional growth that could benefit their employer.
Among many other articles on topics as diverse as using OKRs (objectives and key results) as a business metric, addressing issues of workplace violence, dealing with the new marijuana legalities, and finding a great place for lunch in Downtown Phoenix is a feature that examines compliance concerns for employers as they take advantage of the expanded gig economy.
I’m pleased to help present this edition of In Business Magazine and further the dialogue on issues that are important for our community.
Ritoch-Powell & Associates
Pete Hemingway is president at Ritoch-Powell & Associates and has 31 years of professional experience in design engineering and construction administration. He has overseen the design and construction of large and diverse projects that range from the Water Line / Gas System Replacement System in Mesa, Ariz., to the Bethany Home/Grand Canal Flood Control Project (Bethany Home Outfall Channel) in Goodyear, Ariz. His water engineering expertise includes hydrologic and hydraulic analyses for surface water projects involving preliminary and final design, area drainage master plans and storm water management.