Bringing DE&I to the forefront

McCownGordon Construction associates collaborating in the office

A commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) is vital to creating and maintaining an environment where everyone feels welcomed and valued regardless of our differences and/or similarities. However, implementing change around this commitment is much easier said than done. At McCownGordon Construction, leadership executives believe in setting a strong precedent for DE&I efforts and recently enrolled in the Diversity and Inclusion Cornell Certificate Program.

“We know that diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces are critical to attracting, retaining and engaging top talent, and ultimately result in enhancing the success of our company,” said Ramin Cherafat, CEO of McCownGordon Construction. “We believe DE&I is a true differentiator in our industry, a commitment to creating that environment starts at the top, and that’s why our leadership team enrolled in the Diversity and Inclusion Cornell Certificate Program.”

What is the Diversity and Inclusion Cornell Certificate Program?

Part of eCornell, the university’s external education unit that provides online professional and executive development, the Diversity and Inclusion Cornell Certificate Program focuses on exploring and understanding the impacts of DE&I in the workplace: improving engagement, counteracting unconscious bias, diversity and inclusion at work, and fostering an inclusive climate. Led by an instructor, the courses span eight weeks and are limited to 35 students. The McCownGordon executive team will participate in an in-depth training, going beyond compliance to build a truly aware and inclusive work environment.

What are the benefits?

After completing the certification, many are left thinking more deeply about the challenges around DE&I and begin being more intentional and conscious in making meaningful changes within their organizations to be more inclusive.

“After finishing the first course on diversity and inclusion at work, I gained a much deeper understanding of the difference between inclusion and belonging,” said Sheri Johnson, senior vice president, marketing at McCownGordon. “I appreciated the course provided valuable tactics and tools to help leaders create an environment where everyone can feel a sense of belonging, which is so critical to building effective work groups and a strong company culture.”

Navigating discomfort and elevating your workforce

It’s no secret some DE&I conversations can be uncomfortable. However, that is when it’s extremely important to lean into the discomfort and engage in the conversation. The meaningful experiences that come from these exchanges are often where growth happens. These conversations can lead to an improved understanding of the value of communicating with people of diverse backgrounds; this gives associates a sense of belonging.

While many organizations are embracing DE&I through various means, having executives set the precedent is key to promoting change. These values and commitments from the leadership level funnel down to all associates and encourage everyone to put efforts into action. Organizations should establish DE&I as a value rather than a priority, because, unlike priorities, values do not change. In order to truly make meaningful change, it is imperative for leadership to embrace, promote, support and establish DE&I as a value in the workplace.

Successful DE&I initiatives create a stronger workplace where all associates feel valued and enjoy a sense of belonging. They are good for associates, teams and the company as a whole. If your leadership team is interested in getting a Diversity and Inclusion Certification from Cornell, visit eCornell to learn more.