Last summer, we took thoughtful steps toward strengthening our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) efforts at RS&H – starting with an honest look at what we had done to date and the ways we could improve.
Knowing that continuous progress is crucial when it comes to DE&I work, we began developing an overarching strategy that would evolve over time.
One piece of our strategy was creating a program that would foster partnerships with organizations dedicated to supporting underrepresented and minority student populations interested in exploring careers in architecture and engineering.
Through research, gained understanding and planning, we developed the RS&H Scholars Program – a scholarship, fellowship and internship program and a significant step toward supporting education and the advancement of each scholar’s career and potential.
The program matches RS&H associates with students to provide academic guidance, career counseling and work-related advice over several months, because we understand that education is advanced by the people who help us along our journeys.
Defining the RS&H Scholars Experience
When it came to our talent acquisition strategies specifically, we knew it was important to take the next step with an intentional program for students. While building a pipeline for talent was important, we wanted to take it even further with a multifaceted approach.
After deciding that a formal program would be a positive way to connect associates and students, we looked to several notable industry organizations, forming partnerships to kickstart the beginnings of our program.
The organizations we have initially partnered with are the American Institute of Architects (AIA) – The Architects Foundation, National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Women in Transportation (WTS).
Each organization is moving the needle and creating new pathways for underrepresented and protected groups in our industry, and our program takes a multi-layered approach to help support those missions.
Letting Associates Lead the Way
After establishing relationships with our partners and identifying funding opportunities, we identified an equally important goal: fostering meaningful connection beyond financial support.
We opened a call for volunteers and gained dedicated, passionate associates determined to lend their experience to aspiring students.
Once our volunteers have been identified, they will attend training sessions with our Learning and Development team covering expectations, etiquette and best practices to ensure success in the student advisor role.
Over the course of the scholar’s time spent at RS&H, student advisors will also seek to understand their goals and expectations from the program, helping them to explore valuable skills in a real-world setting.
One of the core tenets of the RS&H culture is simply that we care for one another as people, and it’s my goal to see each scholar experience that in their time with us.
A Longer Journey of Growth
As the RS&H Scholars Program grows, I anticipate a future of strengthened relationships that will stem from the inclusive environment we’re striving to build here every day.
Our first class of scholars will help us understand more clearly the ways in which we can help underrepresented students flourish within their careers, and we’ll commit to applying our lessons learned to each new match – and the company as a whole.
I’ve always found it important that special projects and opportunities be afforded to everyone, and I’m excited to extend those opportunities through our organization partnerships and this program.
To learn more about our DE&I efforts, reach out to me at Kellen.Baker@rsandh.com.
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