As RS&H continues to advance its associates, communities and culture, the architecture and engineering consulting firm’s latest effort started from the bottom up.
RS&H launched Ignite, a Women’s Networking Association in September. The initiative aims to not only empower the women of RS&H through connection and mentoring opportunities, but to support the company’s culture of inclusion and give associates an opportunity to participate in like-minded community causes.
Ignite is a grassroots effort, the culmination of hard work, collaboration and excitement from a group of RS&H female associates from all different segments of the company. But the inspiration began with the women’s personal experiences in a male-dominated industry.
“I’ve been in this industry for nearly 30 years, and I want to make sure I’m doing my part to break down barriers,” said RS&H Executive Vice President Lisa Robert, PE, “to ensure I’m preparing the future generation.”
With that, the Ignite platform largely rests on a “pay-it-forward” mentality. It will include relevant programs and keynote speakers open to all RS&H associates with a goal to inspire and educate. It will bolster internal communications plans and offer a mentorship program to support and encourage women across the RS&H footprint.
“I tried to learn from leaders I connected with throughout my career,” said RS&H Vice President and Ignite Chair Susan Lake. “But I am excited Ignite will offer a more defined mentorship, including reverse mentoring to encourage young women and inspire those mentoring them.”
Additionally, Ignite will support community outreach programs that focus on women’s issues, such as Dress for Success, a non-profit organization that supports low-income women by helping prepare them to find professional work.
Ultimately, Robert and Lake hope to see Ignite act as the framework upon which to build similar programs that support an inclusive culture and drive organizational performance.
“I believe building diverse teams has made my business unit better,” Lake said. “I would love to see others build less homogeneous teams with different skill sets to increase RS&H’s overall talents.”
The benefits of a diverse and inclusive business culture are well documented. A study by Deloitte found that diverse, inclusive companies are eight times more likely to achieve better business results, two times more likely to meet or exceed financial targets and are more profitable than their competitors.
“Having a diverse workforce is great, but it’s inclusion that drives performance and retains talent,” Robert said. “Ignite will raise awareness around this topic and create opportunities for women, minorities and all associates to connect across technology and through experiences.”
RS&H plans to measure the success of Ignite based on program participation, associate satisfaction, community outreach efforts, and recruitment and retention metrics.
“RS&H firmly believes our business success is a reflection of the engagement of our associates,” Robert said. “Ignite is our latest initiative to reaffirm this belief, derive value from our differences and create opportunities for our clients and communities.”