Built Environment Leaders: Social Equity and Diversity Starts at the Top

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January 1, 2021

More than 40 business leaders recently met to share best practices and discuss industry challenges.

Leveling the playing field of social equity and diversity will require a collaborative effort within the building industry.

In December 2020, more than 40 C-suite association leaders participated in high-level discussions during a roundtable to Improve the Workforce of the Built Environment through Social Equity hosted by the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS). This virtual meeting was designed to share best practices, data, and strategies for improving social equity in leadership positions within the industry. IIBEC CEO and Executive Vice President Brian Pallasch was a participant.

“IIBEC is pleased to participate with NIBS and the design and construction industry to address diversity and inclusion from the rooftop and classroom to the association boardroom,” said Pallasch. “We look forward to sharing and learning from our colleagues as we take this journey together.”

“Individuals often grow in their career based on leadership opportunities, honors, awards, and certifications achieved through our associations,” said Lakisha A. Woods, CAE, president and CEO of NIBS. “We must focus on equity in leadership roles within our industry.”

Woods referenced race and gender data on board seats held at Fortune 500 companies in 2018. Sixty-six percent of seats were occupied by white men,  and 18 percent of board seats were held by white women. Just 12 percent and 4 percent of seats were held by men and women of color, respectively.

To address social equity, diversity, and inclusion, executives shared what their organizations have done to meet today’s challenges.

They include:

  • Analyzing board of directors makeup and making changes to reflect the local community
  • Engaging external consultants to address diversity, equity, and inclusion concerns
  • Creating an equity initiative to address lack of diversity within the organization
  • Working with diverse suppliers and corporate sponsors whose goals align with the organization

In addition to NIBS and IIBEC, attendees included Mark Dorsey, FASAE, CAE, CEO of CSI; Donté P. Shannon, FASAE, CAE, CEO of Association of Equipment Management Professionals; Paula Glover, CEO of American Association of Blacks in Energy; Edward Brady, CEO of Home Builders Institute; Alicia Huey, third VP of National Association of Home Builders; Dominic Sims, CEO of the International Code Council; Jeff Littleton, EVP of ASHRAE; Khánh Vũ, CEO of the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers; Julie Garbini, Executive Director at RMC Research & Education Foundation; Andrea Rutledge, president & CEO at Construction Management Association of America; and numerous others.