Accelerating Diversity in Business
We are committed to being a great place to work by fostering a culture that values and respects differences. This includes not only among our employee-owners, but also among the small and diverse businesses who help us build the infrastructure that moves and connects people around the world.
Over the last five years, Burns & McDonnell has had a total business diversity spend of $2.2 billion and has worked with over 2,700 small and diverse businesses globally. But it goes beyond the “spend” to build relationships and develop mutually beneficial partners where together we make a difference in the communities where we work, live and play.
In 2023, Evergy, Ralph G. Moore & Associates (RGMA) and Burns & McDonnell took a leap forward with the launch of a novel business development program designed to educate and equip small and diverse businesses with tools they need to succeed in today’s ever-changing business environment.
Aisha Bowe is the embodiment of a successful woman. She has a background as a former NASA rocket scientist and is now an entrepreneur and future commercial astronaut. In 2024, she intends to travel to space with Blue Origin on New Shepard as the first Black woman aboard a commercial space flight.
Since the Bayen Group reserved the last open slot with Burns & McDonnell at a 2019 small business matchmaking event in Pasadena, California, its growth has accelerated. Within months of meeting with Burns & McDonnell, the technology consulting firm, which specializes in cybersecurity and business systems integration, signed a major contract to streamline an electrical distribution program for San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E).
The passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act has spurred infrastructure investments across the United States. In accordance with Executive Order 14008, the federal government aims to provide 40% of the overall benefits from these federal programs to support marginalized and disadvantaged communities.
Leon Harden interviews Lauren Bertram about how companies should focus on how a candidate could add to an existing culture with a diverse perspective.
Being a strong advocate for entrepreneurs is one of my passions, and always has been. It’s a mindset I have and what I encourage those around me to adopt as well, because it opens up the mind to envisioning new possibilities.
After collaborating on the construction of SaskPower’s Chinook Power Station located in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, in 2017, Burns & McDonnell and Allan Construction teamed up again in 2020 to work on the Great Plains Power Station project in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
To commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Burns & McDonnell invited Hannibal B. Johnson to share his insights on diversity, equity and inclusion. As an attorney, author and historian, Johnson has a thoughtful perspective about the past and the value of storytelling to support diversity and elevate everyone.
Leigha Sledge, now an architect in the Aviation & Federal Group at Burns & McDonnell, liked drawing homes and buildings as a kid and knew by the sixth grade she wanted to be an architect.
A lot can happen over the course of 20 years. Personally, I’ve started multiple businesses (and failed), built a career as an electrical engineer, successfully founded my own company and started a nonprofit to teach high school students about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers. While these experiences have been fruitful — albeit demanding — my relationships were what drove me to success.
Creating successful collaboration between firms in the construction industry, their clients and diverse suppliers can be challenging. The 30 Crossing project, a $632 million effort that is part of the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department’s (ARDOT) largest highway construction endeavor ever, provides an example of how diverse suppliers significantly contribute to complex construction projects.
In 2020, the world watched as racial unrest unfolded across the U.S., hitting a crisis point midyear. This political and powerful movement incited action, inspiring not only individuals but also Fortune 500 companies to reflect and evolve. Though already in the middle of an 18-month journey to further develop its supplier diversity program, PepsiCo’s CEO Ramon Laguarta engaged his team, and years’ worth of data, to go bigger and do more. Motivated by recent events, he led the charge, releasing a personal, passionate statement — and promise — of how PepsiCo would do right by its customers, workforce and suppliers.
Before joining Burns & McDonnell, Cliff Cate worked for a disadvantaged business. He now finds opportunities for Burns & McDonnell to join forces with minority-owned businesses throughout the country to implement critical infrastructure solutions in the water industry.
The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion — known as the Six Triple Eight — was the only all-Black Women Army Corps (WAC) unit deployed to Europe during World War II. On Nov. 30, 2018, five of the surviving veterans from the unit traveled to the Buffalo Soldier Commemorative Area at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, for the dedication of a monument honoring their service.
The Department of Defense awards more than $80 billion annually in contracts to small businesses through programs run by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). That is critical funding some small, diverse companies may not qualify for because they historically have not had access to opportunities majority-owned and larger companies had.
The 80-year-old water treatment facility in Wichita, Kansas, needed an upgrade to serve the city’s growing population. To meet residents’ water needs, Wichita officials decided to construct a 120 million gallon per day (mgd), state-of-the-art facility, northeast of the local zoo.
Vernal Stewart is an affable man who has built a life defined by relentless entrepreneurship and unyielding optimism. In 1986, he started his career by founding Engineering Polymers Co. While his youth and inexperience created some barriers, Stewart’s hustle and humility ultimately resulted in professional success. Today, Stewart serves as the president of SE3, a professional services company specializing in civil engineering.
Through volunteer programs, monetary support and engagement opportunities, Burns & McDonnell employees have built a meaningful relationship with United Way. Over its 137-year history, United Way has built a proven track record of administering and distributing funds to nonprofits to help families and individuals improve their health and educational outcomes, as well as their financial stability.
After operating her own company for 15 years, Angela Hurt shares insight on the importance of authenticity and diversifying to grow a successful business.
Putting intention and effort into building diverse, inclusive partnerships can result in better client solutions and mutually beneficial business growth.
Two employee-owners discuss the benefits of attending a historically Black university. The environment and experience helped them learn, grow and thrive.
As the firm’s first diversity, equity and inclusion strategy manager, Leon Harden seeks to enhance diversity and inclusion at Burns & McDonnell and beyond.
A strong, diverse supplier network requires a corporate commitment to diversify and create relationships that work for the benefit of all involved.
Diverse business membership organizations like the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and chambers of commerce are playing a major role in the development of diverse businesses that contribute a great deal to the U.S. economy.
A utility in Southern California is investing in Black suppliers, boosting economic activity and meeting customer needs while embracing regional diversity.
An inclusive workforce can be built when intentional relationships are established with historically Black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions.
A strong network of diverse suppliers requires a corporate commitment to diversity and fostering mutually beneficial relationships.
A holistic and inclusive approach to supplier diversity expands opportunities for minority-owned businesses while increasing overall business resiliency and flexibility.
Community Leadership Feature
The president of a Black-owned civil and structural engineering firm reflects on the life of a civil rights leader who was instrumental in effecting change in more ways than one.
Carol Taylor’s 18 years of experience leading a diverse, woman-owned business demonstrates the importance of people, partners and perseverance.
Community Leadership Feature
President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Bob Kendrick uses the story of how baseball was desegregated to facilitate conversations about race and business in America.
During Black History Month, Burns & McDonnell acknowledges three certified diverse business partners from the Black community.
Businesses across industries can take a proactive approach to cultivating and maintaining a diverse workforce and supplier base.
Burns & McDonnell partnered with a strategic communications firm to launch a new quarterly business diversity newsletter to advance a community of inclusion.
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