Celebrating Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Ulteig
November 8, 2023
What took shape as an important initiative has grown into an indispensable, vital component that shapes the way Ulteig operates. DEI — Diversity, Equity and Inclusion — is the lens through which we envision and build a sustainable future, but that focus continues to sharpen.
In our efforts to remain authentic in all our inclusive practices, in 2023 alone Ulteig has embarked on several DEI initiatives that continue to gain momentum.
Community Partnerships: Building Bridges
We made a conscious decision to invest in organizations that align with our core values and DEI mission. We’ve joined hands with remarkable organizations such as Engineers Without Borders (EWB-USA), the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Women in Transportation (WTS), and the Engineering Change Lab, contributing to the betterment of communities and marginalized identities.
Engineers Without Borders
Partnering with Engineers Without Borders’ U.S.-based arm was important since it allowed for manageable engagement and a chance to impart a positive, impactful success story by helping with an initial project: a trailhead renovation just outside Austin, Texas in Bastrop.
In tandem with Community Engineering Corps and the Pines and Prairies Land Trust, the project was started early this year and aimed to address erosion issues in the trailhead parking lot. The proximity of the project to Ulteig’s Texas office in Austin facilitated a meaningful connection with the local community.
“Our goal is to provide them with a sustainable solution so the city of Bastrop is able to build and maintain a lot and green space accessible to everyone in the community,” says John Butt, Ulteig engineer and longtime EWB member.
Butt emphasized that the trailhead represents an approach to empowering others to create sustainable solutions that benefit the community. Once the trailhead project is completed by early 2024, Ulteig and Engineers Without Borders will evaluate new opportunities to collaborate on future projects. “It ties into our purpose of creating and solving for a sustainable future,” Butt says.
Society of Women Engineers and Women in Transportation
We are collaborating closely with the Society of Women Engineers and Women in Transportation to continue our advocacy for increased representation of women in engineering. Through partnerships with local chapters in states like Colorado, Minnesota, North Dakota and Texas, this collaboration allows us to make a positive impact in markets across the country.
Recently, Ulteig began co-organizing with the Colorado chapter of Women in Transportation, a mentoring program pairing individuals starting their careers with more senior professionals to guide them and foster a diverse talent pipeline. According to Angy Casamento, engineer and senior project manager at Ulteig and the company’s ambassador for both groups, more mentoring opportunities are slated for upcoming months.
Furthermore, our sponsorship of events like career fairs and industry nights organized by the Society of Women Engineers and Women in Transportation helps expose college students and aspiring engineers to the numerous, lucrative possibilities within the field.
“Seeing Ulteig involved shows that we are actually trying to make a difference and make an outreach that is not typical outreach,” says Casamento.
Engineering Change Lab
Additionally, Ulteig is taking part in an upcoming Engineering Change Lab slated for later in the year. “The workshop will be focused on understanding how engineering plays a role in contributing to equity in our communities,” says Chris DeWall, an engineering associate director at Ulteig and DEI council member. “We will touch on both historically how engineering has played a role but more importantly the role that engineering can play in the future in creating more just and equitable communities for generations to come.”
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
As a recognized 2022 WTS Colorado Diversity Award recipient, Casamento co-chairs Ulteig’s Multi-Ethnic and Ulteig ERG, ME&U, which she says are designed as places where all are welcome. Additionally, she is actively engaged in strengthening our involvement with the Latinas First Foundation. Recently, Ulteig sponsored the scholarships of 63 young women in 2023 alone.
In addition to the ME&U ERG, Ulteig launched the Women @ Ulteig ERG, Rainbow Alliance and Veterans ERG, the latter designed for employees who served their country and want to enact positive change in others. “It also gives us a chance to connect with people who have had the same life experience,” says Chris Aldridge, Ulteig’s ERG chair, in the company’s internal DEI Impact Report.
Internal Processes: Striving for Equity
Fostering diversity and inclusion goes beyond external partnerships — it necessitates thorough examinations of internal machinations via its Process, Policies and Procedures (PPP) Plan.
Annie Rezac, Ulteig’s DEI Manager, elaborates that the PPP involves a task force comprising leaders across various business areas, working collaboratively to assess the company’s procedures through an equity lens. Rezac comments, “Diversity and Inclusion efforts won’t have the intended impact if a company’s policies do not reflect best practices through an equity lens. Ulteig understands that policies and procedures need to go beyond compliance and are a critical function in ensuring that employees have equitable access to opportunity and support.” This holistic approach encompasses multiple facets, including:
- ADA Equity Review: Ulteig partners with firms to re-align ADA guidelines, ensuring compliance and identifying opportunities beyond compliance for greater access and equity. This demonstrates a commitment to making our workplaces and resources genuinely inclusive.
- Recruitment Process Enhancement: We’ve undertaken reviews of its recruitment processes to ensure fairness and equity in hiring practices.
- Code of Conduct and Employee Handbook Revision: Rezac notes that we are committed to creating an environment where all employees can thrive. As part of this effort, we’re reviewing and revising our code of conduct and employee handbook to align with evolving DEI objectives.
The PPP’s comprehensive approach, according to Rezac, extends across a span of two to three years, demonstrating our commitment to achieving sustainable change and progress in fostering organization-wide diversity and equity.
Days of Understanding: Creating Safe Spaces
Modeled after the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion, Ulteig’s Days of Understanding internal awareness campaign is held over four days and covers a range of topics, including race, gender, disability and veterans’ issues. Notably, according to Rezac, more than 50 percent of Ulteig employees participate in these events, highlighting their enthusiasm for engaging in meaningful conversations about diversity and inclusion.
The campaign has received incredible feedback, with keynote speakers adding valuable insights to the discussions.
“We’re trying to make sure everyone feels welcome and has a place,” notes Casamento. “We need to continue doing what we’re doing and let people be their genuine self.”
A Clear DEI Vision
From engineering projects to mentoring outreach to fortifying internal initiatives, it’s our goal to establish DEI efforts as a way to unite people for greater good. In our DEI Vision Statement, we are empowering our employees, clients and community partners to strengthen our inclusive culture by:
- Speaking up for themselves and each other
- Freely sharing their ideas
- Honoring the differences among us
- Being their full, authentic selves
- Advocating to create and sustain a diverse and equitable future
For more information on Ulteig’s DEI initiatives and how you can get involved, we’d love to hear from you.
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