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Remaining Authentic in Our Inclusive Practices

bridge surrounded by trees and water on both sides
June 20, 2023

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) are three words that, together, have become paramount, essential components of organizational success in 2023. As company cultures continue to embrace acceptance, awareness and empathy, all people are made to feel welcomed, valued and included.

At Ulteig, we are on a transformative journey to further our inclusive practices in every Lifeline Sector we support, in every aspect of our business, and for every current and future member of our team. DEI is foundational to the future of our success — a growing framework we’re committed to maintaining. We’re committed to transparency and remaining authentic in our ongoing DEI journey.

Creating Solutions, Creating Diversity

“The work we do is about creating solutions,” says Anne Rezac, Ulteig’s DEI Program Manager. “When it comes to creating diversity, it’s all aligned.” By first inviting everyone to join the conversation, we can better recognize that each person has a role to play in Ulteig’s DEI work. By working together, we can achieve great things and create a sustainable future.

“The cornerstone of DEI is that we all do better when we all do better,” adds Rezac. “So, the more we learn about each other and create a space for everyone to thrive, the better off we’ll all be.”

The Journey Toward DEI

DEI is not just a buzzword to us. It’s not a bandwagon or checkbox exercise for us — it’s an integral part of our strategic plan, backed by strong leadership support, representing a new way of working, innovating, communicating and problem solving that allows for equitable engagement.

We have crafted our DEI vision in earnest for the last two years, rooted in foundation building and level setting, building new pipelines and pathways in three primary areas. According to Rezac, those include:

  1. Policy work through a Process, Policies, Procedures (PPP) Plan, where everything, from job descriptions, interviewing, hiring, reviewing employee handbooks and re-aligning ADA guidelines is being closely viewed through an equity lens.
  2. Launching a community partner program, building better relationships with various industry organizations; among them, Women in Transportation (WTS) and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), to create both better networking opportunities and more pathways to careers and leadership.
  3. Considering future development programs, including career shadow days for high school students, working with disenfranchised communities and supporting students with scholarships.

Measuring Success

To drive meaningful change, we approach our DEI efforts with three key actions:

  • Intention
  • Accountability
  • Openness

“Everyone has a different entry point to DEI work, and we have to meet them where they are at and have an openness to bridge understanding and cultural gaps,” explains Rezac. “We also must be intentional with every aspect of DEI so that the work is authentic and relevant — focused on driving change.”

“We can’t do that,” she adds, “without holding ourselves accountable for the change we wish to see.”

Fostering Positive Qualities

Within not only our organization, but also our communities and the broader industry at large, it’s the very sense of belonging that knits together the fibers of our DEI culture. We recognize that when employees feel a sense of belonging, they are more engaged and productive. Safety, both physical and psychological, is crucial in creating an inclusive environment where everyone feels valued and comfortable being their authentic selves.

“A key ingredient in creating an inclusive and safe environment is through learning about life experiences outside of your own and understanding your biases,” says Rezac. “We all have biases. That is how humans are wired. So it helps us to learn about them and then figure out how to navigate them.”

Diversity Breeds Innovation

Diversity and innovation are intricately connected at a pivotal intersection. Diverse voices — particularly those that have been historically marginalized — bring new ideas and fresh perspectives to the table. In an inclusive and safe environment, employees feel empowered to offer bold ideas, leading to innovation. By embracing DEI, we nurture an environment that breeds creativity and enables us to provide innovative, sustainable solutions to our clients and communities.

Supporting Our Lifeline Sectors

Our DEI efforts are instrumental in supporting our work across each Lifeline Sector: power, renewables, transportation and water. By prioritizing diversity and inclusion, we ensure our thinking and representation mirror the communities we serve. This allows us to deliver more effective and relevant infrastructure solutions. Furthermore, DEI enhances employee satisfaction and productivity, ultimately making us a more efficient and competitive business.

Ulteig’s Dynamic DEI Discovery

“There are a million moments — through meaningful conversations, lightbulbs going off, someone feeling a new sense of value or belonging — that lead to a million small successes,” says Rezac. “We will measure our progress and trends through thoughtful tracking and analysis, but ultimately, we are doing our job if people want to come to Ulteig, stay at Ulteig, and continue doing amazing work on behalf of our communities.”

For more information on Ulteig’s DEI efforts or professional engineering consulting services, contact us today.

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