As we celebrate Pride Month, we are inviting you in to hear from DPR employees who share their perspectives on progress they are seeing in the construction industry in support of the LGBTQIA+ community, what it means to them and in what ways the industry still has room to grow.
Carlos Hurtado, Project Manager
I’ve been in construction for about 13 years, and the industry I knew a decade ago has made a lot of progress, namely becoming more inclusive. For years, the industry had a reputation for being antipathetic towards the LGBTQIA+ community, but recently I’ve witnessed the needle moving. The biggest change is recognition that ‘we’ exist and that our sexuality is not a hindrance, but an advantage. Equitable treatment makes us happier employees, managers, partners and coaches, and increases our levels of trust and productivity. People perform better when they can be themselves.
Perhaps the recent increase of allies and diversity at management levels have been the catalyst our industry needed to increase the support and protection that our community has longed for in the past. Personally, the biggest impact for me has been the allies I have encountered at DPR, people who remind me that I should not hide who I am, people who can speak up when I can’t, people who ask me questions and purely understand that being different is a good thing. They see me as a DPR project manager who also happens to be a bisexual cisgender male and sometimes queer.
DPR doesn’t view discussions on inclusion and incorporating nondiscrimination policies to protect our community as a ‘nice thing to do,’ rather as core to our beliefs and values. There is plenty of room for growth, but my hope is that one day those who identify as part of LGBTQIA+ community can feel comfortable working in construction and we won’t have to think twice when talking about our partners or need to correct others when they misgender them, or even if we’ve been misgendered ourselves. The industry is heading in the right direction and every small step counts. It’s not about being okay with change, it’s about being the change.
Chris Clayton, Project Executive
When I started my career 22 years ago, it was the toughest, sternest, best poker face in the trailer that earned respect and accolades from company leadership and client decision makers. Today, I am so pleased to see that collective decision making, collaboration and integration are at the top of the hierarchy of client desires in a project team. We’ve learned that the special sauce of a team operating at a high level is mutual trust and a common understanding of psychological safety.
This means that each individual contributor is seen as a whole human. Employees are accepted completely and valued for their unique career and life experiences that add to the team’s ability to succeed. Within our industry, increased focus on psychological safety and conversations around mental health have had a positive impact on the LGBTQIA+ community. For all of us to do what our industry expects of us, there is no place for discrimination. Rather, the more diverse sets of experience we can draw from, the better off we will be.
Michelle Gray, National Environmental Health and Safety Leader
I started in the construction industry in the late ‘90s. In that climate, the idea to ‘bring your authentic self to work’ was not even a phrase let alone an established practice. We have come a long way since then, but we still have a long way to go. The industry has made more progress on the administrative side, as we have more benefits, rights, and allies helping to bring acceptance and move toward understanding. I feel that the craft worker experience, including the ability to feel safe about a non-typical sexual identity or orientation, still needs a lot of work and focused efforts. I am in a place personally with my own acceptance and security, and in working at a company that wants to do better, I feel that I am obligated and privileged to bring my authentic self to work so that I can make it better today, tomorrow and in the future for those generations yet to come.
Tiara Cypress, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager
I have seen many advancements in the construction industry in support of the LGBTQ+ Community. Having a personal investment in DEI, the most meaningful industry changes for me have been celebrating Pride month internally and externally and curating educational and awareness resources for our workforce. Not only because it’s part of my role at DPR, but I hope we continue to create more safe spaces to encourage others to be Out and Proud within our industry and educate people to become allies and better support one another.
Having spent time in both the field and the office, I do feel more comfortable being “out” in the office setting. There, being surrounded by my internal peers, means spending time with those who have had more exposure to learn about DEI. This is where education and awareness, allyship, and bystander intervention become really powerful!
Asking, listening, and speaking about inclusion in the workplace are critical for safe work environments, particularly for the LGBTQIA+ community. Pride Month serves as a time for all of us to celebrate and support living life out loud, without fear of judgment, ridicule, or violence.
Learn more hereabout how you can help advocate for inclusion in the construction industry.