Empowering Our Partners

Investing in our industry’s future isn’t just important, it is essential.

And whether we’re building big jobs like New York City’s redeveloped LaGuardia Airport Central Terminal B or smaller but no less important projects in markets across the country, we need to ensure we have qualified subcontractors on which we can call to get the job done.

To that end, we created our Construction Management Building Blocks (CMBB) program, a free, multi-week course designed to give minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) the tools and knowledge needed to secure contracts and create jobs. Now in its 10th year, the program is initiated, organized and taught by Skanska USA in areas of need across the country.  To date, we’ve run programs in Cincinnati, Atlanta, Nashville, Austin, Detroit, Memphis, Tampa, Houston and more – with approximately 1,000 companies completing the course.

One of the more recent graduating classes saw representatives of 34 New York-based companies receive training on the procedures, pre-qualifications, certifications, project requirements and contracting opportunities associated with the LaGuardia Airport Central Terminal B redevelopment project, our largest global project ever. The graduates – some attending weekly from as far away as Syracuse, NY – add to the growing list of MWBEs that are now able to qualify for bidding on current and future redevelopment work at LaGuardia and at other projects throughout the New York Metro and upstate regions.

Nearly 35 New York-based companies graduated from Skanska’s Construction Management Building Blocks Program, a seven-week course designed to create opportunities for minority- and women-owned business enterprises.

On November 10, 2016, 34 New York-based companies graduated from Skanska’s Construction Management Building Blocks Program, a seven-week course designed to create opportunities for minority- and women-owned business enterprises.

“Skanska is committed to the vision set by Governor Cuomo to increase opportunity for minority- and women-owned business enterprises across New York State,” said Thomas Nilsson, Vice President and LaGuardia Central Terminal B Project Officer, Skanska USA. “The Building Blocks program is an innovative and vital investment in the MWBE community that represents the future of Skanska and the construction industry in New York.”

The program was made possible through Skanska’s partnerships with LaGuardia Community College and the NYC Department of Small Business Services.

“This collaborative and timely program reflects our commitment to helping women- and minority-owned small business owners have the knowledge and ability to compete for construction contracts, specifically those emerging from the rebuilding of LaGuardia Airport,” said LaGuardia Community College President Gail O. Mellow. “LaGuardia Community College and LaGuardia Airport share the same namesake – and we are proud to further support Fiorello H. La Guardia’s legacy to ensure that people of all backgrounds have access to the same opportunities and our city has a world-class airport.”

“One of New York City’s greatest strengths is its rich diversity,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “Mayor de Blasio is committed to ensuring that city contractors reflect this diversity and I am proud to support this work. Our department is here to help all minority- and women-owned businesses who want to learn more about how to do business with the city.”

Graduates of the Construction Management Building Blocks (CMBB) program will have the opportunity to bid on contracts associated with Skanska's work on the redevelopment of LaGuardia Airport's Central Terminal B.

Graduates of CMBB are provided the knowledge and tools required to bid on Skanska contracts, such as the redevelopment of LaGuardia Airport’s Central Terminal B, above.

On November 10, 2016, we completed our first-ever CMBB course in the growing Pittsburgh market, in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh. Skanska’s expansion to Pittsburgh was an outgrowth of successful CMBB sessions at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania State University and Rutgers University in New Jersey.

“We are committed to creating jobs and sharing best practices in the communities where we work,” said Skanska USA General Manager Ed Szwarc. “By partnering with University of Pittsburgh, we offer underrepresented businesses the opportunity to expand, gain valuable operational skills and take their careers to the next level.”

While participation in CMBB does not guarantee future contracts, it provides a platform for contractors to interact with industry professionals and city and state leaders to receive information and training on how to bid on contracts. It additionally provides an opportunity for subcontractors to develop relationships with industry professionals and one another, forming bonds and strategic partnerships for the future.

“The Construction Management Building Blocks Program shows just how much Pitt cares about being a good neighbor to the City of Pittsburgh as well as how much we want to reach out to Pittsburgh’s citizens and make a real and lasting difference in the lives of people,” said Scott Bernotas, associate vice chancellor of facilities management for the University of Pittsburgh.

Skanska employees and program participants attend the Construction Management Building Blocks program graduation that took place during Skanska’s Diversity and Inclusion Week. The training program provides small minority-, woman- and veteran-owned businesses with the information and tools they need to successfully compete for subcontracting work on large construction projects.

In Cincinnati, Skanska employees and program participants attend the Construction Management Building Blocks program graduation that took place during Skanska’s Diversity and Inclusion Week in October 2016. The training program provides small minority-, woman- and veteran-owned businesses with the information and tools they need to successfully compete for subcontracting work on large construction projects.

In Cincinnati, the CMBB program graduated seven, local, small minority-, woman- and veteran-owned businesses from its 12-week program in October 2016, arming them with the information and tools they need to effectively compete for subcontracting work on large construction projects.

“This was a wonderful opportunity for a small company like mine,” said Lisa Timley, CEO of Hollywood Cleaning Services, LLC. “To be able to attend a program to enhance all areas needed to grow my business was very beneficial.”

With the proven success and growing desire from small businesses across the country, Skanska and its partners are already engaged in accelerated planning for sessions beginning in 2017.

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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Diversity Comes in Many Forms

Today marks the start of Skanska USA’s annual “Diversity & Inclusion Week” (Oct 17-21) when we celebrate the valuable differences and perspectives of our employees that makes us a stronger company. As part of the week, we also take time to recognize our business partners that help us be a part of creating stronger communities in the areas of the country where we work.

This year’s D&I Week theme is “Find Your Why,” which focuses on exploring different ways that we can make our workplaces and communities more inclusive.

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We have exceptional coworkers and business partners from all walks of life, backgrounds and experiences. When we have a diversity of perspectives, that’s when our creativity and ingenuity really get going and we’re able to offer our customers the best solutions.

Whether we’re working to acknowledge our own personal biases or mentoring the next generation of leaders, Skanska believes it is important for each of us to recognize how Diversity & Inclusion both inside and outside the workplace makes us stronger.

“We all have personal biases and they can be difficult to see past – if we see them at all,” says Mel Jones, national Director of Diversity & Inclusion. “Focusing on this issue helps us learn how to leverage our diversity to make smart decisions that can enhance and grow our company, including from a business perspective.”

As part of this week, Skanska will also launch the Community Giveback Challenge around the country. In local markets where we operate, our teams will be organizing service projects (like the ones pictured here), food and clothing drives and more to strengthen our communities.

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Follow us on facebook, twitter and Instagram for more on our Diversity & Inclusion Week activities.

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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Why inclusion is so important for safety

A diverse and inclusive work environment has been shown to be more innovative and productive. Well-managed diverse teams – epitomizing inclusivity – outperform homogenous and poorly managed teams because they have better synergy, recognize and utilize each other’s unique strengths and points of view and are thus well-suited for tasks that require outside-of-the-box thinking.

When we talk about inclusion, it’s easy to focus on how inclusive leadership can benefit an individual’s career and a company’s bottom line. However, in some industries, including construction and manufacturing, success is directly tied to safety. If the work cannot be done safely, it should not be done. So the question is does inclusion impact safety? And if so, how does fostering an inclusive culture help lead to an Injury-Free Environment®?

Linking safe and inclusive leadership

Diversity alone is not enough to improve performance: inclusive leadership and an inclusive culture are essential to secure a positive impact. We’ve seen that increased diversity in combination with inclusive leadership and an inclusive culture results in an improved safety record. Research also shows that an effective safety culture and a diverse and inclusive culture demand the same kind of leadership. Inclusive and safe leaders constantly strive to develop and support their teams. They empower their employees to voice their concerns and opinions. They are courageous. As our vice president of talent development and diversity, Maja Egnell said, “Inclusive leaders stand up for what they believe is right even when it requires personal risk-taking.”

Diversity and inclusion improves safety by enabling input from different stakeholders. It creates engagement among a larger group of people: men and women, different ethnic groups, crafts people, joint-venture partners, trade workers and more. It allows people to speak up in terms of unsafe behavior. It facilitates a caring culture, and it helps us to challenge traditional or “macho” ways of behavior that can have a negative impact on safety.

Safety & Inclusion

Bringing safety lessons to life

To illustrate and open dialogue on the impact of inclusion on safety, Skanska recently held a workshop in which four senior leaders acted out scenarios in which a lack of inclusive leadership impacts project safety. For example, Vice President of Operations Larry Gillman acted out a situation in which generational differences hurt team performance. Gillman played the part of Hans, a young trainee on the jobsite who is teased by older men at the project because he always wears his protective equipment: they labeled him sensitive, a weakling and a sissy. Hans gets a cut on his finger and, following protocol, asks for a first aid kit. His older colleagues heckle him because, “This is a rough job and we need people who can handle it.” Embarrassed, Hans leaves without treating his cut and wishes he could avoid work entirely.

For Gillman, this scenario offered an important jumping off point for a discussion about jobsite age diversity, as well as the macho culture he encounters often in his work on projects in New York.

“That’s a scenario you can see on the jobsite, and illustrates cultural expectations on men in terms of unsafe macho behavior, as well as generational and age diversity related to that,” said Gillman. “A very good discussion followed about some of those challenges and how to overcome them and shift perspectives. In my personal experience, I see incredible diversity on our jobsites: whether it’s in age, ethnicity or gender. We encounter it every day on our jobs. With good communication and leadership that includes everyone; diversity is a great benefit to our performance.”

Gillman’s scenario demonstrates how, in homogenous groups, there is a tendency for “group think.” This silo thinking decreases our collective ability to assess risks related to safety.

“In male-dominated cultures we might experience a macho jargon/culture that negatively impacts safety,” said Skanska’s global diversity manager, Pia Hook, who organized the workshop. “In diverse and non-inclusive groups we tend to see low levels of trust, care and respect. Instead we tend to see high level of banter, derogatory jargons, discrimination and conflicts. This is in itself unsafe from a psychological and emotional standpoint, and it can have a negative impact on physical safety.”

Building an inclusive and safe jobsite

Additionally, as our jobsites become increasingly diverse, inclusion helps ensure that everyone understands our commitment to safety. For example, on jobsites where there are workers with languages and cultures, it could be easy to say: “We posted warning signs in their language. We’re all set.” But it’s clear that these kinds of non-inclusive efforts do not instill the necessary safety culture needed to prevent incidents.

For example, on our Pegasus Park project in south Florida, we had a team of Chinese craft workers with no English skills. For Analyn Nunez, the Skanska environment, health and safety manager responsible for day-to-day project safety oversight, having translators on site every day helped Chinese-speaking workers feel included and committed to our Injury-Free Environment culture.

“But just having translators isn’t enough,” Nunez said. “Instead, we have worked to build positive relationships with the translators – they’ve become part of my safety team. Numerous times I’ve walked the site with them to train them and show them what I look for on my inspections. By seeing me doing safety walks with the translators, it’s clear to the Chinese workers that safety is Skanska’s top priority.”

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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Why it’s time to have a conversation about workplace inclusion

The high level of diversity that an increasing number of organizations are seeking equates to a lot of differences, including with gender, ethnicity, age, experience, educational background and more. Without finding a way for those differences to meaningfully co-exist, the result can be discontent, including low work satisfaction, high turnover and an increased risk for bullying and harassment.

But consider the enticing result of proactively combining a high-level of diversity with a high-level of inclusion: a creative and innovative work culture and environment with increased work satisfaction, “healthy” employee turnover, and greater adaptability and agility.

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At an Inclusive Leadership Workshop,  the team discussed techniques for fostering constructive dialogue.

Such an inclusive culture needs to be fostered, and that’s why Skanska USA has launched a series of Inclusive Leadership Workshops aimed at starting a discussion for everyone. These workshops, created to break down what inclusive leadership really means and provide concrete tools for teams to adopt in their everyday interactions, have been going on throughout Skanska’s Diversity & Inclusion Week (October 19-23) and will continue over the next year.

These workshops are designed to be exploratory, bringing together broad groups of employees to have frank and confidential conversations about the challenges and opportunities of inclusion. For example, one session at a Skanska New York City office included male and female participants from the U.S., Sweden, Syria and Lebanon. In their conversation, the team dove in to how to facilitate openness. “We need to learn what makes people click versus shut down,” said one participant. “How can we approach people and connect to people different from ourselves? We need to recognize that we all have implicit biases and they shape how we approach people.”

D&I Week 2015-3

Inclusive Leadership Workshops are designed to bring together broad groups of employees to have frank and confidential conversations about the challenges and opportunities of inclusion.

An important part of these conversations is the recognition that some biases are completely normal! Implicit biases start developing at an early age, through life experiences and through exposure to direct and indirect social messages. They are based on the basic human need to create categories – of people, places and things – to make sense of the world around us. While it is impossible to completely avoid implicit bias, it is important to know that they have a significant influence on our attitudes, actions and decisions, and that bringing them to the surface will enable us to make more conscious choices. As one Inclusive Leadership Workshop participant said, “It is a constant issue because we need to combat our own internal biases. The workshop explored these natural biases and how we have to be cognizant of that. We need to realize we categorize certain people and we need to know when it’s right and when it’s wrong.”

One way of assessing implicit bias is to take the Implicit Association Test. The IAT is an online assessment for measuring the strength of the associations we make between different concepts – such as sexual orientation or race – and positive or negative evaluations or stereotypes. Using the IAT website, you can measure your implicit associations in such categories as weight, disability, race, and gender-career. After having taken the test, it’s worth reflecting on how your life experiences might have impacted the results, and how these associations might affect your interactions with others. Inclusion comes from being aware of your own unique frame of reference and knowing how it influences you. In addition to understanding yourself, this is also about adopting a curious and open-minded stance toward the other person’s frame of reference. Think about ways that you can approach situations differently, armed with the knowledge of where you might be tempted to make assumptions.

Another important area for discussion is the impact of insider/outsider dynamics. The insider/outsider experience is very situation and context dependent. You can be an insider as a member of your local soccer team, for example, but feel like an outsider at work. People often have vivid memories of being an outsider due to the strong negative feelings that are associated with the experience. An outsider will often experience a lack of control, and feel weak, confused, vulnerable and frustrated. Outsiders are expected to adhere to the rules set by the insiders, and have to work harder than insiders for the same opportunities. They will spend a lot of energy trying to be accepted by the insider group, and they are often less engaged, motivated and satisfied.

The insider experience, on the other hand, is very different, since most insiders might not even realize their insider status. The insider group has the formal or informal power to create the rules, and will be the ones reinforcing compliant behavior. They are often unaware of outsiders and their perspectives and don’t prioritize understanding the impact that this dynamic brings. In fact, not feeling valued and included has a deteriorating effect on performance as well as commitment and company loyalty. Research has shown that when  less favored employees are treated with the same level of attention and interest typically invested in favorite employees, the former’s performance can substantially increase – even up to 30 percent!

Conversations about inclusion require an open mind and the willingness to take a critical look at your own beliefs, assumptions and behaviors. It’s not always easy. But without these kinds of tough conversations, there can be no progress and no true inclusive leadership. How can you foster this kind of dialogue on your team?

Maja Egnell

Maja Egnell

vice president of talent development and diversity

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How we’re developing female leaders through learning from peer organizations

Only 14.2 percent of the top five leadership positions at companies in the S&P 500 are held by women, according to a report from CNNMoney. This low number is an issue that spans industries, from construction to technology to retail, and one that the Skanska Women’s Network is seeking to address.

Our Women’s Network is an employee resource group open to both men and women that focuses on retaining and developing women throughout our organization, especially for leadership roles. It provides a platform for professional development and a forum in which women can share experiences and influence the company. Unlocking these resources and connections creates new possibilities not only for women’s careers, but for Skanska as well. The Women’s Network has chapters throughout the U.S. and is launching its fifth chapter in Florida this week.

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Members of our San Francisco chapter attended a recent panel on leadership.

Our Women’s Network is working to make connections with leaders outside the construction and development industries. These connections are helping our Women’s Network broaden its reach and influence, while providing valuable lessons for our teams. For example, in Seattle, Skanska Women’s Network Northwest, led by Co-Chair and Senior Project Manager Lacey Ahlf, tapped into two of the biggest companies in their market sectors: Starbucks and Tableau Software. Earlier this year, local Women’s Network leaders asked its members what they most wanted to gain from the network, and mentorship topped the list. Ahlf noticed Starbucks’ Women’s Development Network discussing mentorship on their Facebook page, and a member of the Northwest Chapter reached out to them to see if they’d join Skanska’s discussion. Similarly, the Women’s Network connected with the women’s group at Tableau and invited them to join the mentoring discussion, which was open to women and men from Skanska as well as others in the industry, including competitors.

“Our goal is to help women in the industry,” Ahlf said. That means supporting all women, regardless of company.

The mentoring conversation focused on the differences between formal and informal mentorship and the role and importance of cultivating both. One interesting discussion point came from the Tableau team, which has developed a robust mentorship program, in part to stay competitive in the highly transitory tech hiring economy. They’ve found that mentorship is most effective when it’s implemented from the on-boarding phase. Routine mentorship check-ins are vital, especially in the employee’s first 1.5 years in order to develop and retain talent. These kinds of cross-industry insights are helping our Women’s Network refine and grow its programs.

Learning from Nike

In Portland, Ore., Skanska Women’s Network Co-Chair and Director of Project Controls Katie Coulson has also approached companies outside of construction, including Nike. Women at Nike make up 50 percent of the general workforce, but that parity is not yet reflected at the top of the company – a situation typical of many companies. Thus, Nike’s Global Women’s Leadership Council is working hard to change this dynamic and is serving as a mentor to Skanska’s program in the Northwest. Notably, the council has demonstrated the impact that these kinds of programs can have on women’s careers: a higher percentage of women who are members of the council have achieved promotions in the last 5 years versus women who do not participate.

Bringing 70 people together from across industries to discuss female leadership

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The panel at “Breaking the Mold: Women in Leadership” addresses the Women’s Network in San Francisco.

In San Francisco, Julie Hyson, Skanska director of business development, was inspired by her interactions with clients, partners and community members to develop a similar cross-industry event for the Women’s Network, entitled “Breaking the Mold: Women in Leadership.”

“I’ve met many inspiring women in leadership positions,” said Hyson. “And I felt like there should be a forum for us to share real experiences and learn from one another.”

Hyson connected with the team at Autodesk, who shared Hyson’s vision for an event that would cover taboo topics about women in leadership and allow women to speak boldly about their experiences.

“We wanted women to leave with a sense of courage,” said Hyson. “And with the confidence to be brazen leaders regardless of their title.”

Hyson assembled a panel of inspiring women who represented diverse market sectors and a range of experience, from companies like Autodesk and Northland Control Systems, to the Golden State Warriors and San Francisco International Airport. More than 70 women and men from industries including architecture, engineering, technology and sports joined the conversation, which touched on topics such as self-advocacy and balance. One interesting moment came at the beginning of the session, when the audience was asked to raise their hands for these questions:

1. Are you a woman? 95 percent of the audience said yes.

2. Are you a manager? 75 percent of the audience said yes.

3. Do you have concerns about work/life balance? 100 percent of the audience said yes

4. Are you a mother with young children? 50 percent of the audience said yes.

5. Are you in a male dominated field? 100 percent of the audience said yes.

“The idea was to show everyone that we’re speaking the same language, said Hyson. “We have commonalities in an effort to break the ice and feel comfortable connecting on a genuine level.”  The panel was so successful that there are plans for similar events with teams at SFO and elsewhere.

For Ahlf, Hyson and Coulson, the goal of these events is to help women across industries advance their careers and become leaders in their own right.

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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How our Boston team creates an inclusive workplace

An inclusive workplace is one where every person feels as though they can voice their ideas and contribute their expertise.  In today’s intergenerational, diverse offices – where millennials work side by side with baby boomers – it’s especially important to make sure that all team members feel valued, respected and engaged – regardless of their age or work experience.

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As part of Diversity & Inclusion Week, we brought together a group of men and women of various generations from our Boston team to discuss their careers and how inclusion impacts their performance and possibilities.  Here are some highlights from the conversation on how inclusion has made an impact on their work:

– “Inclusion means tapping into ideas from different backgrounds,” said Ali Brathwaite, a CAD engineer who joined Skanska’s BIM team right after graduation in 2014. “You’re a part of it and bring something to the table to help everyone succeed.”  For him, working with (and sitting at a desk nearby) VP of Operations Paul Pedini, has been a formative experience in his young career.  Ali spoke of how meaningful it was to have Paul ask for Ali’s (a self-described transit nerd) take on a new transportation project and how Paul’s emphasis on Injury-Free Environment training had impacted his own perspective on safety. Inclusion means sharing ideas and expertise, regardless of age or position.

– For Steve Lappin, a director of mechanical preconstruction in his first year with the company inclusion, means tapping into the unique skill sets of both older and younger workers. On the preconstruction side, Steve still likes to get hands-on with plans, breaking out the highlighters and Post-its where needed. As a baby boomer, working alongside technologically-fluent Xers and millennials is both a learning and teaching opportunity for him. Steve looks to his younger colleagues to help him utilize the most efficient technology for his projects, yet at the same time he tries to teach his colleagues the importance of face-to-face communications. “You have to talk directly to people. Take that 30 minutes to build a personal relationship.”  Doug Hill, senior graphic design director with 13 years of experience at Skanska, echoed Steve’s comments: “Technology can take away the personal aspect. Someone says ‘I sent him three emails.’ Did you pick up the phone? It’s the personal touch, stepping away from the technology. “

—  On the other side of the tech equation – millennials Emily Pfaffenbach, a project engineer, on the Watermark Seaport project, who has worked for Skanska for a year and Connor Hennessy, a former Skanska intern-turned-field engineer also on our Watermark project, shared how their innate ability with technology has helped make them invaluable to their teams. “I try to help with any computer problem and not judge,” Emily said. “They give me the construction knowledge so it’s a fair trade.”

The group also shared a few key ways to foster inclusion amongst intergenerational teams:

– “It’s about the relationships that you have. When you go around, you listen to what they [team members] say. Listen to their problems, help them along – successes and failures. That’s the secret.” – Sandy MacLeod, director of technical services who has been with Skanska since the 1980s (Traditionalist)

– “It shocks me when subject matter experts scoff at a new idea. Have an open dialogue.” – Doug Hill (Generation X)

– “I appreciated when I started and got thrust right into a project, my team did take time to sit down and chat about exactly what we’re doing. Our more senior members would teach us certain things to do and the best way to do it. When I had a question they dropped what they were doing. Now I am helping a new Latvian team member the same way and I understand why it is so important.” – Ali Braithwaite (Millennial)

– “You have to look at the big picture. Make everyone more efficient. If you don’t pay attention, you’re going to do it all. It’s important so everyone is capable of doing the work.” – Steve Lappin (Baby Boomer)

– “Learn from people. In construction, so much is based on past experiences. Soak in as much as you can.” – Connor Hennessy (Millennial)

– “When you’re working in a group, focusing on your own problems, everyone gets in “the pit.” You have to flip, put things in a different light… I’ve been in the industry for 30 years, and try to focus on the positive. Inclusion gets you out of the pit.” – Cindy O’Brien, a marketing director who has been with the company for a decade (Baby Boomer)

– “When I started my career, just out of college, there were not that many women. Going from jobsite to jobsite as the admin pushed me to have a voice. That experience molded me and helped me grow.” – Laurie Clifford,  Boston office manager who has been with Skanska for three decades (Baby Boomer)

– “At a team building event, we were brainstorming about our expertise. It’s funny how little we know about what skills people have. One of the things we discovered was the need to learn more about our personal skills and industry skills. Things about backgrounds: What did you do? What kinds of projects? The nitty-gritty. It’s really important for team work. “ –Bijou Vilaranda, an executive assistant who’s worked for Skanska for three years (Generation X)

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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BOOSTing subcontractors in our communities

Inclusion directly impacts performance, especially when it comes to innovation. Inclusive groups facilitate more ideas, better ideas and different ideas.  On an individual level, performance improves when a person feels included and that has a direct impact on the group. Employees who believe they have more of a “voice” will exert more effort on behalf of the group, going above and beyond the “call of duty.”

But inclusion means more than just engaging internal team members. The more we work to educate and develop diverse talent, the larger the pool of potential employees and businesses we have to draw from. An environment that includes and engages a diverse group of talented people provides a competitive advantage and contributes to superior work.

Consider the case of the Building with an Objective to provide Opportunity through Sustainable Training (BOOST) program, which focuses on educating contractors. “There isn’t a book out there on how to be a sub [contractor],” said Lori Fox, of ML Fox Construction LLC, a BOOST participant. In order to address this educational gap, we created BOOST to help contractors improve their skills and raise the standards of the trade contractor pool in our communities. “The BOOST program is a pretty comprehensive overview of being a subcontractor,” said Fox. “It was really helpful. A lot of the things we had been doing – but maybe didn’t understand the why, and didn’t understand things from the general’s perspective.”  The ten-week program focuses on key construction management topics: everything from contracts and insurance to LEED and safety. By providing these resources to small and disadvantaged businesses, the BOOST program educates the trade contractor community to better understand their work, helping them perform better and deliver better results. “We go after all kinds of work now,” said Fox.

Inclusion works because it is a competitive advantage.

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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This network helps women thrive in construction

Building a culture of inclusion opens up new possibilities for personal, company and community growth.

For women, a culture of inclusion in construction can unlock tremendous possibilities. Women hold just three percent of the seven million construction jobs in the U.S. Catalyst, an organization that works to build inclusive workplaces, has found that teams with an equal mix of men and women outperform male-dominated teams in both profits and sales.  Recruiting and hiring more women is an obvious way to increase diversity in the construction industry, but building an inclusive environment in which women can thrive is just as – if not more – important in the long run.

Not only is gender diversity essential for team performance, but diverse leadership has also been shown to boost business performance. In 2007, Catalyst found that companies with the most women board directors outperformed those with the least on three financial measures: return on equity, return on sales, and return on invested capital.

With this in mind, last year we launched the Skanska Women’s Network, an employee resource group focused on retaining and developing women throughout our organization, especially for leadership roles. It provides professional development and a forum in which women can share experiences and influence the company. Groups like the Skanska Women’s Network help women make connections, share ideas and develop the confidence they need to thrive and lead our business.  Unlocking these resources and connections for women creates new possibilities not only for their personal growth, but for Skanska as well.

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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Why inclusion is beneficial for people and business

“Inclusion Works” is not only the theme of our Diversity & Inclusion Week, but it’s also a fact. A company may be diverse, but if there is not a culture of inclusion in which  employees are given the power and framework to leverage people’s differences, innovation and growth will suffer.

In order for inclusion to work, it requires strong leadership. Research shows that well-managed, diverse teams outperform both homogeneous teams and teams that are diverse but poorly-managed. Teams with inclusive leadership are more productive and innovative. In Creating Value with Diverse Teams in Global Managementthe writers found that, “Diverse teams are especially well-suited for tasks that require considering an issue from many angles or that depend upon out-of-the-box thinking. “

To fully understand how and why inclusion works, we have illustrated the five key reasons inclusion is beneficial for both people and business:

Skanska_DiversityIG

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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A diversity of success

diversity

As this picture of our global Infrastructure Development team shows, Skanska recognizes that a diverse and inclusive environment is key to providing our clients with the best solutions.

Step into Skanska USA’s infrastructure development headquarters near Washington, D.C., and this business unit’s extensive diversity quickly becomes apparent. Flags from different home countries are fastened to work station walls, and a variety of accents fill the air. Some colleagues speak multiple languages.

Of Skanska’s 27 employees here, nine different nationalities are represented and 30 percent of the employees are female. This group – which develops public-private partnership (PPP) solutions for infrastructure needs that include highways and tunnels – relies on this diversity to develop the best solutions for clients, drawing on employees’ global worldviews and experiences.

“We have a really healthy mix of race, gender, ethnicity and backgrounds – that’s exactly what we want,” said Karl Reichelt, the Skanska executive vice president who heads this group. “It really makes for an excellent team when we all come from different perspectives.”

This diversity stems from the nature by which our infrastructure development group operates. The world of public-private partnerships is quite broad, with experts needed from more fields than just construction, including finance, legal and development. Because of this need, this unit draws from a wider talent pool. And with PPPs more common in other parts of the world than the U.S., it also recruits globally from other Skanska operations.

“If you want to be innovative, you have to be diverse,” said Chris Guthkelch, a Skanska project director who hails from Britain. “We need to reflect the world in which we live.”

An example of how such diversity and collaboration is helping Skanska meet our clients’ needs is the $2.1 billion Elizabeth River Tunnels PPP project in southeastern Virginia. Winning this project required tapping expertise from across the Skanska enterprise, including tunneling experts from Norway, additional development experts from Sweden and toll road expertise from Latin America. Establishing partnerships with the local Virginia community was also critical.

Reichelt said when he joined Skanska in 2006, the team consisted of just a handful of people. He’s proud that our infrastructure development unit has grown into such a diverse team.

“That’s what we wanted to do because we knew it would be good for our business and good for our team,” Reichelt said.

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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