Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Summit Pursues the Future: Unity

On June 14, 2021, ABC’s Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Summit met virtually to explore the complexity of IDE in today’s world, as well as to evaluate its historical journey and sustainable future in the industry.
By Construction Executive
June 23, 2021

On June 14, 2021, ABC’s Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Summit met virtually to explore the complexity of IDE in today’s world, as well as to evaluate its historical journey and sustainable future in the industry.

Speakers included:

  • Rudy Alanis, Vice President and Chief People Officer at Helix Electric
  • Chris Beck, Senior Vice President of Turner Construction
  • Kacie Brewer, Manager of Diversity and Inclusion at United Rentals
  • Frank Chiramonte, President and Founder of Chiaramonte Construction Company
  • Gary W. Clevenger, Vice President of Risk Control Segments at CNA Insurance
  • David Fisher, Manager of Supplier Diversity at Hensel Phelps
  • Jimmy Greene, President of Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan
  • Sharon Hamilton, President of Sentinel Fence and Contracting
  • Traci Hardin, Vice President of Safety and Compliance at Meyer Najem Construction LLC
  • Doug Harris, Chief Executive Officer and Thought Leader at Kaleidoscope Group
  • Rachel Hobson, Risk Manager at HGC Construction
  • Courtney Holt, Talent and Diversity Manager at Cianbro Corporation
  • Michele Howell, Vice President of Business Development for Greater Indianapolis at Aon
  • Laura Lapidus, Risk Control Director at CNA Insurance
  • Brad Lewis, Corporate Director of Supplier Diversity at Hensel Phelps
  • Larry Lopez, Founder of Green JobWorks
  • Tia Perry, Director of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity at Associated Builders and Contractors
  • Greg Sizemore, Vice President of Health, Safety, Environment and Workforce Development at Associated Builders and Contractors
  • Steven Tillis, Accountant at Associated Builders and Contractors Houston
  • Jean Toman, Director of Public Relations and Programs at Associated Builders and Contractors Delaware
  • Dennis Walker, Manager of National Associations Relations at United Rentals
  • Monique Wallace, Regional Human Resources Manager at Argos USA
  • Irma Wehmeyer, Estimator/Project Manager at hth companies, inc

Sessions included:

  • “Total Human Health Amid a Pandemic”
  • “Hostile Work Environments and Racially Motivated Incidents: How Do We Take Care of Our People?”
  • “Chapter Presidents Panel: Spotlight on Inclusion, Diversity and Equity”
  • “How to Attract and Retain the Best Talent”

The virtual format was led in a creative, organic fashion, starting out with a number of polls and quizzes to warm up the audience—as well as tests to see which listeners were truly paying attention. One quiz asked attendees to differentiate between facts regarding the first three speakers’ companies (United Rentals, Hensel Phelps and Helix Electric), all of whom are also recent recipients of the 2020 Diversity Excellence Awards.

When asked how they would rate ABC’s historical IDE efforts, nearly half of the audience (49.2%) chose “Somewhat Effective” and another 33.3% chose “Effective.”

A second poll asked, “How prepared are you personally to help drive change in the area of IDE at ABC?” Of the respondents, 46.9% said they were “Somewhat Prepared,” while “Prepared” and “Very Prepared” each received 24.5% of the vote. 

The keynote, led by speaker Doug Harris, was also interactive, with Harris encouraging audience participation during a thoughtful introspective on the history of IDE, its impact on the industry and what the next step after Equity might be.

Harris included an outline of critical legislation in his presentation, tying ABC’s policies to acts of Congress. Now, having obtained basic rights, Harris maintains that the focus should be on “value and potential.” Therefore, he says, the way forward post-equity is unity.

“Unity is about how we work more powerfully together,” Harris says. “Unity is the last piece of the equation because it’s not about silos, but how we collectively operate together.”

This idea, says Harris, encourages industry leaders to look to each other for collaboration. Unity is about the big picture and which challenges affect us all. When Harris asked for the crowd to suggest industry challenges, the responses ranged from “recruitment” to “overcoming stereotypes about the industry” to “understanding and leveraging our cultural differences.” Audience members filled the chat screen, fully prepared to participate in what Harris terms the “Kitchen Table,” a method of nonjudgmental communication and support.

There will always be challenges, Harris says, “but we have to honor and appreciate the efforts that are being made.”

Tia Perry, ABC’s newly-announced director of inclusion, diversity and equity moderated the sessions and introduced speakers. “I want to make sure everyone is involved and engaged,” she says.

During the Summit, many discussions were held, ranging from experiences with slurs and workplace bias to mental health services and the evolution of the industry. Regardless of what your company’s IDE status, an evaluation of current procedures and offerings could be a huge benefit. 

Laura Lapidus suggests conducting an anonymous survey and “using this as an opportunity to look at the benefits you’re providing.”

The key is to think of IDE as instrumental to an industry that stakes its values on looking beyond the superficial, says Steven Tillis. “Both political sides can get behind the merit shop policy.”

Read more about the speakers and this year’s Summit on the official website or visit For any questions, contact Tia Perry at [email protected].

by Construction Executive

Construction Executive, an award-winning magazine published by Associated Builders and Contractors, is the leading source for news, market developments and business issues impacting the construction industry. CE helps its more than 50,000 print readers understand and manage risk, technology, economics, legal challenges and more to run more profitable and productive businesses.

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