Canadian Consulting Engineer

2022 #CCEawards Showcase: Stantec Inclusion and Diversity Program

November 10, 2022

“They’ve demonstrated an ongoing commitment and, more importantly, results in the composition of their leadership team.” – Jury

Pride event

Photo by Sean Bell Images, courtesy Stantec.

Category: Community Outreach and In-House Initiatives

Award of Excellence Winner: Stantec

Stantec’s inclusion and diversity (I&D) program recognizes the importance of distinct perspectives and experiences on delivering innovation and producing transformational work. The program focuses on driving I&D not only within Stantec’s offices and projects, but also within the larger engineering industry and community. Through providing a range of opportunities, resources and events, the firm encourages its employees to take personal accountability and drive change internally and throughout the communities they serve.

A multifaceted undertaking

With the belief that inviting, embracing and celebrating differences creates opportunities for employees, clients and communities and inspires their best work, Stantec started its I&D program in 2013.

Many companies have I&D programs, but what distinguishes Stantec’s program are its leadership commitment, depth, breadth, high employee activation, ability to deliver continuous improvement and resources invested by the firm, as demonstrated by the various initiatives, touchpoints and groups created to support a culture of I&D. These include:

  1. I&D councils—Responsible for ‘actioning’ the firm’s I&D strategy and driving the creation of practices, goals and objectives.
  2. Employee resource groups (ERGs)—Volunteer staff who strive to achieve a diverse and inclusive workplace by supporting networking, providing education and development opportunities, addressing business challenges and offering suggestions for improving corporate policies.
  3. Training—To help all employees identify and overcome unconscious biases and unintended barriers to inclusion. (For example, Stantec recently partnered with First Nations University of Canada in Regina for cultural awareness training.)
  4. Partnerships—Formed with educational institutions and organizations like Workplace Pride, Catalyst and others that work with Black, Indigenous and People of Colour.
  5. Resources and sharing—Inclusive hiring guidelines, the sharing of stories in meetings, a guide for race relations conversations and updates to corporate communication resources to incorporate the use of inclusive language.
  6. Equity and diversity scholarships—To support underrepresented groups and communities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.
  7. Diversity supplier program—Includes a small/diverse supplier policy statement, internal evaluation, reporting, benchmarking, online vendor profile registration and strategic partnerships.

Leveraging resources

The development and implementation of Stantec’s I&D program were not easy. There are no set guidelines or one correct way to encourage I&D that will work for every organization. Contrasting perspectives and approaches made it difficult to achieve consensus in the firm’s approach.

Other challenges include a constantly evolving I&D environment, influenced by current events, trends and information in the marketplace; obtaining buy-in from all staff; and difficulties in measuring progress, as data is often provided on a voluntary basis and may not be fully representative.

To overcome these challenges, Stantec leveraged the expertise of its I&D team and worked closely with industry partners to gain knowledge of best practices, lessons learned and current trends to ensure a strategy was formulated that would work well and make sense for the firm.

In addition, to drive consensus and buy-in, the I&D team participated in regional meetings to introduce the program and held one-on-one conversations with employees to understand what I&D means to them and to incorporate their feedback. Stantec was careful to take a non-intrusive approach to I&D, providing resources, platforms and opportunities for employees to connect on the subject, but not implementing mandatory measures or training.

To create I&D materials for The Lens, Stantec’s intranet and employee communication tool, the firm supported employees by launching internal communications around I&D topics and encouraged them to share their stories and perspectives, both in meetings and through online tools like Microsoft Yammer and Teams.

Since its launch in 2013, the program has expanded rapidly with new ERGs, councils, training and other initiatives.

Philippine Heritage Month

The program celebrates diverse events like Philippine Heritage Month (above) and the Diwali Festival of Lights (below). Photo courtesy Stantec.

Diwali Festival of Lights

Photo courtesy Stantec.

Engineering equity

Stantec has found its I&D program helps remove barriers, attracts the best and brightest employees to the firm, creates a sense of belonging and camaraderie and motivates colleagues to maximize their potential and productivity. Diversity fosters a healthy range of views, which in turn leads to opportunity creation and innovation.

Many of the firm’s clients are advancing similar I&D initiatives, to the point where such programs are no longer considered optional, but rather a criterion to win projects. It is anticipated that Stantec’s I&D initiatives, events, processes, procedures, resources and standards will all play an increasingly large role in the firm’s project delivery, reputation and relationships with clients and communities.

Above and beyond the internal benefits, the program actively promotes I&D and equity to the larger engineering industry and in communities. Indeed, one of the guiding themes for the ERGs is to think of ways to engage communities to enhance the firm’s corporate social responsibility (CSR). For example, they host Stantec’s Pride Parade, which celebrates everyone who identifies as part of the LGBTQ2+ family or provides support as allies.

Stantec also builds community engagement through partnerships with associations, including the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) and the Architecture, Construction and Engineering (ACE) Mentor Program.

Finally, the program proactively supports grassroots organizations that promote I&D, provide scholarships to minority and Indigenous students, participate in community partnerships and find opportunities to engage with and recruit women, people with diverse ethnic origins, visible minorities, Indigenous people and people with disabilities.

By improving policies and practices, teaching and encouraging behaviours that support inclusion and elevating underrepresented groups, the program’s efforts will help lead to a greater depth in the talent pool and a more equitable engineering industry at large.

Stantec Inclusion and Diversity Program, Edmonton

Award-winning firm: Stantec, Edmonton. (Asifa Samji, MBA, B.Sc., B.Tech; Arliss Szysky, P.Eng.; Erin Bradley, B.Sc., M.E.Des.; Lana Bertsch; Carrie Sabin, CSR-P, ENV-SP; Brandie Bennett; Jordyn Garner; Josh Workman, P.Eng.; Claudia Lee, B.Comm.; Ricardo Carlos Perez).

Owner: Stantec.

Other key players: n/a.


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