Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEI&B) are optimally reflected in a work environment when all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and play a substantive role in an organization’s success. While diversity is focused on gender, race, age, professional background, and sexual orientation in a workplace, inclusion is focused on efforts to ensure all employees feel safe, happy, supported, and that they belong. How businesses frame and prioritize that goal is as individual as each company.
One firm who has prioritized creating and growing a DEI&B program is Tamarack Grove Engineering (TGE), a Boise, Idaho-based structural engineering and design firm. With a goal of seeing all employees succeed, Tamarack Grove Engineering (TGE), a Boise, Idaho-based structural engineering and design firm, has made a definitive effort to create a workplace that supports a robust DEI program where all employees feel mutually embedded in a carefully curated culture. TGE DEI&B programs have an overarching goal that’s firmly aligned with the organization's goals and values and sustained foundationally by leadership.
A robust policy of inclusion doesn’t just benefit the employee. Leaders in diverse organizations can create environments that propagate innovation and creativity. According to Deloitte, diverse companies enjoy 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee. Another study found that inclusive teams improve team performance by up to 30 percent in high-diversity environments.
That level of personal achievement and company success helps TGE build on a program that is already highly successful and serves as a model for others to follow. “We’ve worked hard to create the optimum environment for our staff to thrive, make meaningful impacts on our company and our clients, and reach their own goals,” said TGE’s Doug Hardin, P.E., Director of Engineering.
Diversity in staff is also reflected in the tremendous impact female engineers have on a culture. TGE is purposeful in interviewing and hiring female interns and full-time candidates.
“We want to hire the best-qualified candidates and make it a priority to interview the best and provide those opportunities,” said TGE’s CEO Brian J. Sielaff, P.E., P.Eng. “The expertise female engineers and interns bring to the TGE team cannot be underestimated — without their considerable contributions to our work product and culture we wouldn’t be the firm we are.”
Productivity & Engagement
The firm recognized early on the benefits of a diverse environment that equally distributes fair treatment and reward to both the employee and the organization. Employees who feel included are often more engaged and productive, which ultimately fuels profitability and heightens team morale and collaboration. The relationship created between TGE’s leadership, and its employees creates an environment for people to thrive and feel empowered. And, ultimately, TGE’s clients benefit from the firm’s culture of teamwork, pride in work product, and satisfaction in a job well done.
One of the most challenging factors facing firms today is recruitment and retention. According to Glassdoor, workforce diversity was reported as extremely important to the following pool of respondents:
72% of Women (of all races)
89% of Blacks
80% of Asians
70% of Latinos
Recruiting efforts have extended beyond traditional borders at TGE, as they seek to widen opportunities to as many potential hires as possible. One avenue where the firm has invested is in sponsorship opportunities for international students with significant focus on the Nepali community. “International sponsorship involves a great deal of time and money, but we believe we are changing lives which is where TGE wants to direct our efforts,” said Sielaff.
Process + Partnership
A fortunate, and unexpected, outcome of TGE’s sponsorship program is a strategic, highly successful partnership with a Nepali engineering firm. Based upon relationships created with Nepali-sponsored staff, an opportunity arose to partner seamlessly with a Nepali engineering firm startup. This collaborative partnership allowed the Nepali firm to start its business and provided a new avenue for TGE to provide enhanced service to clients.
“We send work to our partners across the globe each night and when we arrive the next morning, an accurate and completed product is waiting for us to review, QA/QC, and finalize,” said Sielaff. “No other firm can match this production level regarding speed and economy. The process has proven to be a game-changer in how work is produced.” The partnership has been successful for both parties providing greater opportunities for everyone.
“Partnering with the firm in Nepal has given a tremendous opportunity and edge to TGE, clients, and employees. We have increased our volume of projects and can meet client-requested quick turnaround times. This partnership has allowed us to work on more challenging projects as we can send repeat and templated projects to Nepal. Because of the added resources, we have less employee turnover and more balanced workloads,” said project manager Bikash Sigdel, M.S., P.E., Project Manager.
TGE has had the unique experience of witnessing a full-circle evolution with a staff member who began working with TGE remotely. “An opportunity was created in Nepal and eventually that future employee came to the US to further their education, earning a master’s degree in civil engineering. “It’s been fulfilling to add this employee to our team. The training he received in Nepal now benefits us in our Boise office,” said Sielaff.
Tamarack Grove Engineering specializes in manufacturing, commercial, and facilities markets serving clients throughout North America by providing responsive, safe, and trusted engineering design solutions of the highest quality and integrity. For information on how the firm can help you on your next project or to inquire about hiring opportunities, contact TGE’s CEO, Brian J. Sielaff, P.E., P.Eng.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brian J. Sielaff, P.E., P.Eng., specializes in building design, design development, investigative and forensic engineering, and project management. As CEO at TGE, he oversees all work, production, and client relationships. Brian serves as Chairman of the Building Systems Council, NAHB.