Gender Strategies at INTREN
As a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) since 1988, it was the cornerstone of our company to help women and minorities succeed in the construction industry. Our focus was in bringing diverse subcontractors and vendors to the table, as well as contributing to many charitable organizations.
A challenge we faced was to take the same outward focus inward. To date, we have not met our goal related to women in leadership roles, especially those positions perceived as male roles- such as an Operations Director or Project Manager. Our goals were to:
- Start at the top—Embed Women-Majority Board of Directors
- Hire and retain female talent in leadership
- Build a pipeline of women
- Develop supportive programs
Our actions focused in several areas:
- Implemented HR standards where a diverse slate of candidates is a requirement
- Acquired another strong WBE utility construction company with similar values
- INTREN chose powerful female board members for a woman-majority Board. This included inviting the owner/CEO of the company that INTREN acquired to the Board.
- Developed empowering women’s groups for all women, as well as at the management level. The groups provided the training and the tools needed to step into their own power, and bond as a team. They included a:
- Women’s POWER Group
- Executive Women’s Group (WIN)
- Women’s Mentoring Group
- Culture Leadership Team
Over one year, the number of women hired in the office increased from 42% to 44%, while women in management jumped from 10.2 percent to 27 percent. The number of female Operational Directors increased from two to three, and project managers from one to five. Feedback continues to be positive from our women’s groups, which meet bi-monthly, and our mentoring program. Next steps include a diversity council.
We are still recovering from the influence of our history, our experiences, our stories and our education. We have been taught in various ways, both consciously and unconsciously, that there are significant differences in values and value-propositions depending, in large part, on your race and gender. My life’s work is about unity and equality and bringing down the barriers that divide us.