A Culture of Inclusion

At the three-million-square-foot American Dream construction project in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the project’s leadership team was committed to recruiting and retaining top talent right from the start.  


Construction is a complicated business, and its success requires the skills and commitment of a diverse group of people. PCL’s commitment to being a leader in the recruitment, development, and advancement of a diverse workforce has allowed the project team to attract the best talent available. In addition to the local trades who work on-site, 46% of PCL’s management staff are women and minorities. The team’s senior leadership team strongly values diversity in the construction industry and emphasizes solid recruitment fundamentals that lead to jobsite diversity, such as implementing a streamlined recruiting process and sponsoring visas; PCL has helped many employees through the permanent residency process in this way. To leverage New York City’s famed standing as a multicultural hub, the project team attends events at local universities and fosters relationships with school administrators and professors who are involved with international programs. In addition, the project team has also worked closely with the State of New Jersey and the Governor’s office in filling roles with qualified New Jersey tradespeople.


The success of a diverse team relies upon the inclusion and engagement of all project staff from day one. To maximize the benefits of diversity, it’s crucial that all employees feel a sense of belonging and are empowered to fully contribute, especially when more than 1,500 people are on-site. Wayne Melnyk, who is vice president of major projects, operations manager Steve Schmalz, and Vanessa Brotherns, human resources and professional development advisor, have been instrumental in ensuring that all employees are engaged and that the workplace embraces differences. “Wayne has been at the forefront of our diversity and inclusion program,” said Vanessa. “He’s not just a manager, he’s a true leader.”

The team holds numerous events celebrating the different cultures of employees, including potlucks and seasonal get-togethers where team members are encouraged to share a dish from their native country. The project’s SPICE (social well-being and community involvement planning and improvement committee for employee engagement) committee also sends out a monthly newsletter to all project staff that includes an employee spotlight, employee accomplishments, safety and quality updates, jobsite milestones, and notice of upcoming on-site events.  

“Our ‘secret sauce’ has been that, with so many new people coming on board, we’ve made them feel valued and invited everyone to participate,” said Vanessa. “Inclusive leadership comes from the top down. If you don’t have leaders who live and believe what they’re saying and doing, nothing will change. Wayne and Steve have truly been influential when it comes to our project’s Diversity and Inclusion program.”

A common goal and shared set of values are what bind the project team together, regardless of varying responsibilities or personal characteristics. The American Dream is not only coming to life, but also making others’ dreams a reality.