A Diversity and Inclusion Success Story: Creating “Game-Changing” Opportunities for WEBMyers Construction
August 21, 2019
By Natalie Kelly
At Brasfield & Gorrie, we work daily to build diversity in our workforce, increase collaboration with minority partners, and promote a culture that embraces new ideas and strengthens communities. Our diversity and inclusion efforts are currently focused on three key areas: recruitment, minority- and women-owned business enterprise (MWBE) engagement, and education and leadership. As our efforts in these areas continue to gain momentum, one initiative we have made promising progress on is our commitment to continuously increase our collaboration with MWBE firms. Through our supplier inclusion strategy, which focuses on providing MWBE firms with mentorship and access to business opportunities through our projects and corporate actions, we are building diverse relationships and engaging with firms who are adding value to our work.
Many of our clients not only expect us to be committed to inclusion, but they are also requiring thoughtful strategies to ensure opportunities for MWBE firms to help grow their experience and capacity. Many of our projects provide platforms to demonstrate new strategies for MWBE engagement. Clients generally support our diversity and inclusion goal of making a meaningful and long-lasting impact on the communities we serve. Our teams thoughtfully approach inclusion and explore ways to create opportunities for MWBE firms to participate directly on our projects, providing growth, training, and resume-building opportunities for these firms.
One example is our successful relationship with African American and woman-owned general contractor WEBMyers Construction. Owner Chondra Myers met with Brasfield & Gorrie last year to talk about how to structure an opportunity for her company on one of our hospital projects. Myers has always been opposed to joint-venture partnerships that don’t produce true experience and growth opportunities and has been vocal about her firm not being a diversity checkpoint, but rather a valued partner.
After learning about Myers’ goals for her company and her firm’s strengths, it was clear that additional construction experience and an opportunity for meaningful revenue were important to her. After considering different options for how to partner with WEBMyers, we decided to identify areas of the hospital that we could establish a scope boundary around, such as the emergency department, kitchen and dining, family services or EEG/rehab/sleep unit. WEBMyers could operate as the general contractor for one of the areas, managing subcontractors and performing work on their own project within the larger project.
Myers calls the opportunity a “game-changer” and says she has not experienced other general contractors taking this approach to minority inclusion.
In an effort to expose WEBMyers to our preconstruction and project approach as well as our client, Myers’ firm is currently working on smaller ancillary projects for the hospital. Additionally, Myers and her team have participated in various Brasfield & Gorrie training classes. The access to our expertise and best practices has given her company a platform to learn and grow from.
Myers says that she and her employees feel like “a part of the team” and that working with Brasfield & Gorrie has been a transformative experience in the life of her company.
In a continuation of our efforts to strategically engage the minority contracting community, we will soon launch our new EQUIP initiative, which will offer industry education and mentoring that will strengthen the subcontractor pipeline and help expand our network of minority partners. Through this program and others, we hope to continue equipping and empowering firms with game-changing opportunities.
Natalie Kelly leads Corporate Responsibility at Brasfield & Gorrie, one of the largest privately held construction firms in the nation. Her responsibilities focus on advancing sustainability and diversity initiatives within the company.