Q&A: DPR's Journey to Empowering Authenticity

This article is included in the Great Things: Issue 3 edition of the DPR Newsletter.

Editor's Note: This post was updated on Sept. 8, 2020.

Stacee Barkley, DPR’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) leader, shares how DEI fits into the company’s overall approach to global social responsibility and DPR’s journey to becoming a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

What does DEI mean?

I love the analogy that diversity is being asked to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance, and equity is playing the variety of music that gets each of us on the dance floor. It means recognizing, valuing, embracing and engaging what makes us uniquely individual and therefore immeasurable contributors to the organization. DEI strives to represent the broader external community, and leverage the diversity of perspectives, thoughts and experiences by empowering authenticity and enabling access to the tools and resources to succeed.

DPR is invested and committed to diversity equity and inclusion allowing us to fulfill our beliefs to Respect the Individual
Quote from Stacee Barkley, DPR DEI Leader

How is DEI part of DPR’s commitment to global social responsibility?

DPR’s approach to global social responsibility is broken down into three pillars: People, Planet and Philanthropy. The People pillar has two branches, DEI, which is focused internally on the employee experience, and externally on supplier diversity. When we think about global reach, customer centricities, innovation and talent, DEI underscores the imperative to understand cultural, social-political and economic differences, recognizes that diversity fuels innovation, inspires talent and is a critical success factor to client and community engagement. Knowing and showing that DPR is invested and committed to the diversity, equity and inclusion of its people allows us to fulfill our core beliefs to Respect the Individual and Change the World!

How does DEI fit into DPR?

It really is all about having a workforce that represents the community, and a workplace where people can be their best authentic selves and thrive through whatever their employee lifecycle may be. DPR was founded as a company that was all about helping people achieve everything at their highest potential and giving them the tools to do so in service of our customer. It’s been part of our DNA since the very beginning. Going forward, we are being more intentional, deliberate and strategic in ensuring DEI is embedded into all of our practices.

What are some of the challenges to increasing diversity in DPR’s workforce?

It’s important to recognize that diversity is multifaceted. I like to say it is a kaleidoscope, not monolithic. But when we look at traditional measures of diversity (gender and U.S. ethnicity) we know the industry does not attract a lot of women (as an example) – so we need to be more intentional and focused in our recruiting efforts both in where and how we recruit to demonstrate the value proposition of the construction industry. It also means recognizing and mitigating unconscious biases that may influence decision making in any of our process or practices.

What are DPR’s plans to recruit with more diversity as a focus?

DPR is increasing access to diverse talent by evaluating our campus portfolio for HBCUs and HSIs, diversifying professional association career events, using social media to actively engage diverse communities, using brand imagery that reflects diversity, and leveraging data (pipeline funnel analysis) to manage gaps and opportunities. We’re also actively working on mitigating bias in the acquisition process. Our Respect for the Individual Breaking Bias program has just begun, and our talent acquisition/recruiting teams will be among the first to go through it. DPR is also re-evaluating job descriptions to be language-conscious, revisiting the essentiality of degrees (for certain roles), diversifying interview panels, and using skills-based interview questions.

Courtesy of Creative Commons | Craig Froehle

What is DPR doing about supplier diversity?

We’re very excited that Patrice Gilmore has recently taken the role to lead our national supplier diversity strategy. There is an aligned vision for supplier diversity, we have held initial stakeholder engagement discussions (with more to come), we are looking at data analytics, and will be starting a pilot program in the coming months.

What’s my role in this?

The biggest thing anyone can today is seek to understand, seek to learn, to be informed, seek to be engaged in conversations which may at first be a little uncomfortable. We should also allow for the grace of patience to be thoughtful, intentional and meaningful. DEI is one pillar of GSR, but it is truly intertwined with everything we do. We’re on a mission to be an admired company, not just a standard bearer in the industry but also an example that stretches beyond construction. We’re on a journey together, we’ll all be better for the experience, and we’re excited to share it with everyone.

Starting where we began:

D – Seek to engage others with different perspectives and experiences, actively connect with someone different from you (i.e. inviting someone to the party).

E – Ask colleagues how they like to be engaged and recognized. What is their best communication style? We all may need something a bit different (i.e. playing different music).

I – Ask for the perspective of those who may be on the phone as opposed to in the room; go round-robin on calls and ask everyone to contribute. If you know you have an introvert on the team let everyone know in advance they will be asked to contribute or follow up with people afterwards to ensure their voice in included (i.e. being asked to dance).