Last month, I used this space to discuss the importance of work-life balance. This month, I want to tackle a topic that is just as important: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in the workplace.

The topic is timely, as the National Institute of Building Sciences recently released the results of its 2023 Social Equity in the Built Environment Workforce survey. The report, which was completed in partnership with Avenue M Group, takes the pulse on where things stand, with regard to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Of the 6,672 respondents, nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents said it’s important to increase diversity of the built environment, and overall, younger respondents — aged 39 or younger (68%) and aged 40 to 49 (66%) — as well as women (79%) were more likely to indicate the importance with regard to increasing diversity.

Additionally, the survey found that:

  • More than two-thirds (68%) of respondents were men, and about three in 10 (31%) were women;
  • More than four in five (82%) identified as White and/or a person of European descent. Seven percent of respondents identified as Hispanic and/or Latina/Latino/Latinx; 4% identified as Black, African American, and/or a person of African descent; 4% identified as East Asian; and 3% identified as Native American, Alaska Native, First Nations, Métis, and/or Inuit;
  • Sixty-seven percent of respondents work in private industry or business;
  • The majority said they are employed full-time (73%), and about half (51%) have been in the built environment for more than 20 years;
  • With regard to discrimination, almost one-third (32%) indicated they have experienced discrimination or prejudice based on age; and
  • Around two-thirds (67%) of women indicated they have experienced discrimination or prejudice in the built environment based on gender.
  • As the plumbing engineering industry is hurting for new recruits, it might be time to take a look at your firm’s DEI initiatives — do you have a strategy? If not, now is definitely the time to create one. According to Harvard Business Review, companies with DEI strategies have better financial performance, stronger culture and leadership and more engaged and inspired employees. Sounds good, right?
  • So what are some ways to improve DEI strategy other than engaging in unbiased hiring practices? How can you attract a more diverse workforce? A friend of mine works for a company that offers employees the option of joining “Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).” I had no idea what this was when she told me about them. Basically, it’s a network within your organization for like-minded employees and allies. Her company has these ERGs for women, parents, LGBTQ, military veterans and more. I think this is a fantastic idea — if nothing else, it’s definitely a way to create a positive working environment and improve culture.
  • ERGs can also pave the path for developing mentorships for younger employees if you don’t already have a mentorship program in place. Your firm can also provide company-wide DEI training and host DEI events.
  • What is your company doing to promote DEI in the workplace? Let me know — contact me at