From project job sites to corporate headquarters, building an inclusive and welcoming culture has long been a focus for PCL Construction. The global call to action sparked in 2020 only underscored the importance of these efforts.
PCL Project Engineer Vanna Hosanny shared how the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) program has evolved over the past year as part of an industry panel hosted by Equity in the Built-Environment: A Colorado Coalition (EBECC).
“At PCL, DE&I is embedded in how we do business,” she shared with the audience, who tuned in virtually. “Our people are our backbone. We construct buildings for diverse, international groups, so it’s important to have people from all backgrounds bringing their unique perspectives and experiences to the project. Our mission at PCL is to make sure that everyone feels included and part of something bigger than themselves.”
Here are the three ways Hosanny shared that PCL is working to increase DE&I in the construction industry.
In early 2020, PCL Construction established a U.S. Wide DE&I Council, with many offices creating local committees. The council is tasked with providing education and enhancing awareness about important DE&I topics in their offices, supporting national efforts, and identifying opportunities to grow PCL’s program. With a reporting line directly to President and Chief Operating Officer of U.S. Operations Deron Brown, the council has the leadership buy-in it needs to turn ideas into actions.
As a direct result of the Denver committee’s effort, the office has forged a new relationship with STEM Blazers – an organization that helps Colorado high school young women envision themselves in science, technology, engineering and math careers.
“I wish I had known that the construction industry was an option during my first degree,” said Hosanny, who holds two degrees from the Colorado State University and serves on the Denver DE&I committee. She will be sharing her experience and encouraging young women to explore opportunities in construction at an upcoming STEM Blazers event.
As the XBE Liaison for PCL, Hosanny meets regularly with women and diverse-owned businesses to help them identify opportunities to work with PCL. Recently she assisted with PCL’s participation in a Mentor-Protégé program organized by the City of Denver. The program, led by the city’s Division of Small Business Opportunity (DSBO), pairs XBEs with larger, more established firms that can help the small business leaders develop the skills necessary in scaling their businesses to success, including winning contracting opportunities with the City and County of Denver.
PCL’s mentorship of Select Building Group with subsidiary Four Star Drywall is considered one of the program’s biggest success stories. The partnership resulted in the three companies collaborating on a response to Denver’s RFP (Request for Proposals) on the upcoming reconstruction of the 16th Street Mall, an iconic tourist attraction in Denver. The PCL proposal was awarded the 16th Street Mall reconstruction project (design build).
Hosanny shared that PCL and Select Building Group made important business connections that resulted in both company’s growth. “Through the Mentor Protégé program and invaluable relationship building, the PCL-Select Building Group team were able to increase the business capacity of the protégé so much so that we are building this iconic project together, a win for both companies.” she said.
PCL’s adoption of unconscious bias training for every employee, according to Hosanny, is one of the company’s biggest wins of the year. Unconscious bias training helps employees recognize subconscious attitudes or beliefs towards certain groups of people that impact their language and actions and provides tools to overcome those biases.
As a result of this training, Hosanny said she’s been able to have open and productive conversations with co-workers who are committed to creating positive change in the industry.
“We’re now having important conversations within our craft as well as our leadership that I don’t think would have happened a few years ago,” Hosanny said. “One of the most rewarding things to have happen to me is to have a seasoned construction worker come and up talk about how our diversity and inclusion efforts have helped change and shift their perspective, and it’s creating this wonderfully inclusive space at our job sites.”
She added, “I’m a woman in construction, there’s not a large percentage of us, and to have my male counterparts come up and welcome conversations on DE&I is very powerful. While there is still work to be done, I think this openness to talk about difficult issues is unique to our culture at PCL.”