Knutson’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion group takes the first steps in making impactful change.
Minneapolis, MN – 08/18/21
What a difference a year can make.
Last summer, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, members of Team Blue came together looking for a place to talk, listen and process the events that were happening in our communities.
“We have always had strong diversity programs for our projects and partners,” said Brendan Moore, vice president and general manager of Knutson’s Minneapolis Office, “but we hadn’t officially brought together our internal employees to discuss current issues that were happening in our communities.”
It became clear that there was a desire for a group to form, and there was no shortage of topics or issues to discuss as a team. The small group became a forum for ideas to share with the broader company. In the past year, the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) group has met monthly, experienced virtual reality training at VR3 and offered micro-aggression training in small group huddles. Most importantly, we found that people wanted to talk, listen and share their stories. Team members showed empathy to one another when sharing their experiences. We learned things we hadn’t known about previously, and we opened the door to having conversations in a safe space. Additionally, our conversations have evolved from the injustices in the BIPOC community and included discussions around additional minority groups including women, LGBTQ and those with disabilities. A formal women’s ERG group was formed earlier this year.
“This group has definitely gotten us talking,” said Dusty DeMarais, superintendent and diversity liaison to field staff. “We have many different points of view from different aspects of life that have connected us across the office and the field. Additionally, in our field we often have multiple generations working with one another, sometimes from the same family which brings a unique opportunity to learn from each other’s experiences.”
Aalayha Robb, VDC specialist agrees with we have made progress on communicating with one another which is an important first step. “Even if DE&I is a part of the strategic plan or a business initiative, change cannot happen until all members of Team Blue feel recognized and empowered to share their stories and empathize with others. This group has played a huge role in creating that safe space for these discussions to take place,” said Aalayha.
The DEI group will continue to focus on bringing different groups together, to learn from each other and share their experiences.