Embracing DEI to Enhance Ulteig’s Putting People First Culture
November 3, 2021
From day one, Ulteig has built a culture focused on people – our employees, our clients and the communities in which we serve. While some would say we’re a B2B firm, we like to think of ourselves as a Human 2 Human firm, where we relentlessly work toward understanding the needs of others while building a safe environment for the type of collaboration that’s needed to solve complex problems better.
Putting people first isn’t a stagnant process. We are constantly learning from others, both within our firm and outside. This means being open to embracing new concepts, new ideas and new ways of doing things. As employee-owners, we take this seriously, and that’s why we see the need to strengthen our learning about how to truly put people first by hiring Anne Rezac, who joined Ulteig on October 4, 2021, as Ulteig’s new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Program Manager. Working remotely from Chicago, Annie will work with our organization as a whole and with each of our offices to build a better understanding of DEI and integrate it within our culture, our values and into the fabric of our day-to-day work.
We’d like to introduce Annie to you with this short Q&A in which Annie shares how she sees her new role at Ulteig.
What’s your background?
I was working in an organization called Communities and Schools of Chicago, where we partnered with nonprofits from all over the city. While I was there, I saw the inequities in schools and overall, in communities of color – an experience that inspired me to focus on community work. I then joined the Chicago Public Schools’ first racial equity committee and helped design a curriculum that was culturally relevant to Black and Hispanic students.
After working in the schools, I became the Director of Strategic Initiatives for a nonprofit called Chicago Literary Alliance, a group of more than 100 companies and agencies that provide equity-driven programs. I served as the leader of equity-focused work for the Alliance partners.
After a few years, I was ready to move to a corporate setting. I was looking for an opportunity where I could help build an internal DEI program.
What brought you to Ulteig?
At first I thought “Engineering? Is that for me?” But then I started reading more about the Lifeline Sectors. I was impressed with the goal to help clients and communities strengthen vital infrastructure.
I also was impressed by Ulteig’s planning and leadership support for DEI work. I also liked the size of the company — it’s big enough to make an impact at a company level and small enough to make a difference with individual employees.
What will you do at Ulteig?
DEI is going to be an important part of Ulteig’s strategic work going forward. My primary role will be to create learning opportunities and awareness around DEI and to develop or enhance programs to build a more inclusive culture. There’s a strong focus on people at Ulteig — it’s a great foundation upon which to build. To be clear, I am not here to put any personal beliefs or values on people. I am here to facilitate learning, growth, connection – and to be an active listener!”
Why is an intentional focus on DEI important for organizational success?
It’s been proven in studies that a workforce with more diverse life experiences will result in a more financially profitable, more productive company with greater employee retention. It’s not just diversifying but creating a sense of belonging, allowing everyone to be able to bring their true selves to work. That can improve the employee experience as well as increase productivity.
What do you do when you’re not at work?
I like hiking and camping with my family and watching lots of scary movies. I have a senior in high school, a dog and two cats. I’m also a big reader of sci-fi fantasy. And my favorite thing in the world is dark chocolate.