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Diversity Key to Workforce Development

DEI is showing up as a reoccurring theme and topic of discussion throughout the design, construction, and industrial industries AOE services, but many are uncertain how to address it in a meaningful way.

Advancing Organizational Excellence (AOE)—a full-service consulting firm with unique expertise serving professional service and technical industries—has launched its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Practice Group as well as the industry’s first online assessment tool to support organizations as they navigate their DEI journey. The DEI consulting services and assessment tool, developed in response to extensive market need, complement the organization’s recognized expertise in crisis communications, strategic change management, HR and management consulting, and marketing communications. The practice group, which is believed to be the first of its kind launched specifically to serve the design and construction industry, was developed through the addition of tenured DEI consultants and partners. 

“During the last year, more and more organizations have been asked to share their DEI plans,” said Kimberly Kayler, CPSM, AOE’s President and DEI Practice Leader. “As the trusted resource for strategic change management and crisis communications, adding a DEI portfolio of services is a natural extension for AOE and something the market desperately needs.”

According to Kayler, DEI is showing up as a reoccurring theme and topic of discussion throughout the design, construction, and industrial industries AOE services, but many are uncertain how to address it in a meaningful way. Further, decisions regarding potential vendors, partners, and suppliers are being influenced by DEI policies, theories, and practices. For example, many contractors and engineers have seen DEI requirements and questions in Requests for Proposals (RFPs). Job seekers are also examining potential employers’ DEI initiatives before accepting offers. When implemented correctly at a strategic level, DEI programs are proven to benefit not only an organization’s financial performance and growth, but also employee recruitment, engagement and retention.

Tom Merritt, regional managing director, Anser Advisory—a national capital program and project advisory firm offering solutions to public and private sector clients—is involved in expanded DEI efforts at his organization and sees great benefit to the initiatives. Merritt noted that he is seeing an increase in questions related to DEI in RFPs that the firm responds to in order to earn work. Further, DEI is important from a workforce development standpoint.

"In addition to helping address the challenges in recruiting top talent," said Merritt, "creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive work environment leads to happier and more engaged employees and, in turn, greater productivity."

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Mapping the DEI Journey

Because every organization is different and may vary greatly in where they are in their DEI journey, AOE’s DEI Service is offered as a customized strategic plan. The process begins with an organizational snapshot obtained through AOE’s proprietary online Benchmarking Assessment tool, the first of its kind in the design and construction industry. This tool goes far beyond measuring quotas and numbers—it also addresses DEI-related concepts including intent, language, and visual messages, as well as how diversity, equity, and inclusion are integrated into an organization from a strategic standpoint.

Upon completion of the assessment, real-time data is provided including the degree to which the organization supports DEI and where they are in their journey (based on a proprietary maturity model). Feedback is provided along with a suggested roadmap to meet their DEI goals, which may include training such as implicit bias education, a branding audit, or modification of recruiting activities. As the organization moves through the various phases of their DEI roadmap, AOE is with them every step of the way.

Training is a key component of the new service offering. Gary W. Konarska II, Executive Director and CEO of the American Welding Society--a 70,000-member nonprofit organization with a global mission to advance the science, technology, and application of welding and allied joining and cutting processes--noted that AOE recently partnered with the American Welding Society to explore the topic of DEI, how to be an ally and gaining a better understanding of the benefits of a DEI program. He credited AOE with being part of the successful dialogue that is occurring on the topic and looks forward to participating in the assessment tool.

“Although there is no one-size-fits-all approach to assembling a DEI initiative,” said Kayler, “AOE is confident we have developed an offering that will work well in the industries we have served for more than two decades. Cookie-cutter solutions are plentiful, but they can fall short of meeting the unique needs of many organizations. No matter where you are in your DEI journey, AOE will work with you, providing the customized support you need for success.”

For more information on how to navigate your organization’s DEI journey, visit www.aoeteamdei.com, check out this video, or contact Kayler at [email protected].

About Advancing Organizational Excellence (AOE)

Advancing Organizational Excellence (AOE) is a full-service consulting firm with unique expertise and more than two decades of experience serving professional service and technical industries. From association management to consulting services ranging from marketing and event planning to HR and strategic planning, AOE has a team of 90-plus employees with hands-on, real-world experience. AOE invests 100 percent of profits back in the industries the team serves. For more information, visit www.aoeteam.com.

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