Episode 10: Ron Adams

Podcast: Construction DEI Talks

Episode: Ron Adams

Welcome to the Construction DEI Talks podcast, where we dive into diversity, equity, and inclusion as they relate to the construction industry. Co-hosts Jorge Quezada, Vice President of Inclusive Diversity at Granite Construction, Stephanie Roldan, Director of Lean Culture at Rosendin, and Aby Combs, Inclusive Diversity Business Partner at Granite Construction, bring new conversations with subject matter experts and discuss how we can make our industry better and stronger. In today’s episode, the hosts are joined by Ron Adams, Executive at Northwestern Mutual, Vice President of Field Diversity and Inclusion, and Co-Lead of the Northwestern Mutual DEI Corporate Committee. 

The episode begins with Ron sharing about his intent and framework for teaching inclusion and diversity. Despite the frequent challenge in this area of teaching, Ron points out how every DEI leader must focus on these topics. He encourages them to take proactive steps in planning and mapping out goals upfront to determine what you are reaching for. He compares this kind of strategy to his time in the military and how putting the necessary time and effort into mapping out a plan helped prevent important details from slipping through and being overlooked. 

Next, Ron discusses his 5D framework for how he proactively plans for roadblocks that may occur, which include fighting against distraction, discouragement, division, discounting, and disengagement. First, distraction aims to derail us from goals, and this can be faced by having important conversations that keep you on track. Discouragement is another setback that must be addressed, and this can be done by anticipating problems that may be discouraging and planning how to confront and mitigate them. When it comes to division, Ron encourages listeners to understand the collective power available to use rather that constantly living divided against others. The setback of discounting, or feeling that your work or effort is going unrewarded, can be confronted by making sure everyone feels noticed and appreciated. Lastly, disengagement is remedied by making sure everyone feels like they are part of the team and play an important role. 

The episode comes to a close as Ron then walks listeners through different levels of thinking strategically when taking the 5D’s to a business level. He encourages those working in this field to always be seeking ways to add value to their team using the 5D framework. Additionally, he shares a time in his life when learned about the importance of being curious and continually having a humble attitude of wanting to learn and grow. He concludes with one last piece of advice for listeners, which is to always aim to cultivate good character and change any environment you are in for the better. 

Links: 

Connect with Stephanie Roldan. 

Connect with Jorge Quezada.

Learn more about Construction DEI Talks on LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.

Learn more about podcast sponsors Granite Construction and Rosendin

Connect with Ron Adams

Learn more about the Northwestern Mutual DEI Corporate Committee here

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Welcome to Construction DEI Talks, a podcast discussing diversity, equity and inclusion as it relates to the construction industry. Your host is Jorge Quezada, Vice President of Inclusive Diversity at Granite Construction. Stephanie Roldan, Director or Lean Culture at Rosendin and Aby Combs, Inclusive Diversity Practitioner at Granite Construction are your co-hosts. Each episode will bring new conversations with subject matter experts about how we can make the industry a more diverse and inclusive place.

Our guests for today’s episode are Kyle Larkin and Mike Greenwalt. Kyle, President and CEO of Granite, is responsible for development and implementation of company-wide strategies to ensure Granite’s growth, effectiveness and sustainability. Mike Greenwalt, CEO of Rosendin, has over 40 years of construction industry experience. He joined Rosendin in 2002 as a Division Manager in the Arizona office, where he grew the team and became Vice President of Operations. In his first year as CEO, Mike oversaw the launch of the non-profit Rosendin Foundation.

To begin, Mike recalls his initial excitement at being accepted into a selective apprenticeship program in Phoenix at 20 years old. However, the excitement quickly faded as he became the subject of prejudice from his colleagues. It was a helpless feeling, he says, and many people don’t realize what that kind of treatment can do to a person. As he ascended through his career, Mike realized the opportunity he had to make the industry a more inclusive and inviting place for everyone. Then, Kyle shares his own experience of feeling like he did not belong. His desire to bring inclusive diversity to the construction industry arose from a compilation of instances which happened over the course of his early career. Recognizing his individual value and the insight he had to offer his own company led him to seeing those traits in other people too.

Diversity is much broader than just gender and ethnicity. Construction is one of the most diverse industries, providing jobs to people of all walks of life. While job sites have always been consistently diverse, equity and inclusion is what has really been missing. In closing, Mike and Kyle share their perspectives on what leaders should be doing to move these principles forward.

Links:

Connect with Aby Combs.

Connect with Stephanie Roldan.

Connect with Jorge Quezada.

Connect with Kyle Larkin.

Connect with Mike Greenwalt.

Learn more about Construction DEI Talks on LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.

Welcome to Construction DEI Talks, a podcast discussing diversity, equity and inclusion as it relates to the construction industry. Your host is Jorge Quezada, Vice President of Inclusive Diversity at Granite Construction. Stephanie Roldan, Director of Lean Culture at Rosendin and Aby Combs, Inclusive Diversity partner at Granite Construction are your co-hosts. Each episode will bring new conversations with subject matter experts about how we can make the industry a more diverse and inclusive place.

Today’s guest is Vicki O’Leary, International Union’s General Organizer for diversity. In her career, Vickie has spoken out about the need for people to not just be told what to not say or do, but that they also need to be given tools and understanding of ways to take action in producing positive change. She shares how good intent is not going to make an impact, but rather taking action and taking a stand for diversity and inclusion. Additionally, she shares her own story and the moment when she was inspired to take action in speaking out for inclusion, diversity, and respect for all in the workplace.

Next, she speaks on the topic of bystander intervention, which is how we can use our voice to take a stand, specifically in speaking out against harassment. She shares several different ways to approach this: directly speaking out against it, distracting and redirecting them to better choices, and delegating ways to go about enforcing safety in the workplace. Too often, people can become caught up in being tough, but Vickie points out that it is essential for people to understand the seriousness of their actions and how it can harm others.

Knowing how to teach these skills not only at a corporate level, but also at a craft level takes intentionality. Vicki speaks on this matter and shares some of the challenges herself and others face in the workplace on a day-to-day basis and the changes that need to be made. She talks about the fact that businesses need to be looking out for the needs of all employees and treating them with respect and dignity. Her hope is that all trades would begin to have a mindset that does not tolerate discrimination and that has a standard of excellence.

The episode concludes with Vicki talking about diversity and how this term expands to more aspects than only racial diversity. New generations are beginning to speak up for this diversity in the workplace and for changes to be made that allow the success of all people. Vicki shares how the company she currently works at has the goal of tapping into employing all groups of people and to promote an inclusive culture. She concludes with two words of advice for listeners: put in the effort to support an inclusive workplace and set goals for how to do it.

Links:

Read the article mentioned in this podcast about Vicki O’Leary and her work

Connect with Vicki O’Leary

Connect with Aby Combs.

Connect with Stephanie Roldan.

Connect with Jorge Quezada.

Learn more about Construction DEI Talks on LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.

Podcast: Construction DEI Talks

Episode: Episode 3 – Leading With Inclusion

Welcome to Construction DEI Talks, a podcast discussing diversity, equity and inclusion as it relates to the construction industry. Your host is Jorge Quezada, Vice President of Inclusive Diversity at Granite Construction. Stephanie Roldan, Director of Lean Culture at Rosendin and Aby Combs, Inclusive Diversity partner at Granite Construction are your co-hosts. Each episode will bring new conversations with subject matter experts about how we can make the industry a more diverse and inclusive place.

Today’s guest is Shirley Engelmeier, CEO and founder of Inclusion Inc., author of several books including Inclusion Is Still A Competitive Business Advantage and a Tedx speaker. For over two decades, she has advised Fortune 500 companies on creating inclusive, high performing leaders and enterprises. Prior to founding Inclusion Inc., she helped senior management positions for global consumer products organizations Brown and Williams and Frito Lay. She frequently works with executive teams to create strategy and sustainability for inclusion and diversity initiatives. Needless to say, Shirley is a voice we need in the construction industry.

To begin, Shirley shares her experiences being the only woman out of 26 division sales managers working on the team at Frito Lay corporate. She shares several instances of the many sexist comments she was forced to endure from her colleagues. At the time, she had no clue that the idea of being the odd one out would prepare her for the future of her work. Even in construction today, many employees feel they are the odd one out of the group. How can people who have never experienced this feeling lead a team at work?

Then, Shirley shares the areas in which construction has come a long way and the areas which need extra attention. It is her belief that many leaders don’t have a full understanding of the terms diversity, equity and inclusion. If the terms are misunderstood, it’s impossible to truly move forward with their ideologies. Shirley shares the equity equation she developed for leaders to provide the framework for progression. Reflecting on hiring patterns, Shirley shares that the American construction industry has been hiring diverse talent for decades. Thus, the issue lies in the practices which aren’t building an environment in which people want to stay. Equity and belonging are outcomes of inclusive and diverse practices.

The episode wraps us with Shirley explaining the advice she gives to leaders, which begins with validation. She stresses that by using inclusive behaviors, it will improve your engagement, productivity, talent retention and drive innovation. There is a real benefit for leaders to hear the perspective of those familiar with your company, as opposed to an outsider. While we all have good intentions, this work ultimately requires the level of impact we make through our actions. Sometimes, it takes a push such as an employee meeting for someone to finally take action. The reason Shirley’s organization has an inclusion model, inclusive leader skills and inclusive meeting practices is to instill these values in corporations over time. She concludes with advice for listeners: Be open, know that sometimes you just don’t know and always ask what other people think.

 

Links:

Connect with Shirley Engelmeier.

Connect with Stephanie Roldan.

Connect with Jorge Quezada.

Learn more about Construction DEI Talks on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and our Website.

Interview with Alex Willis – discussed mindset, where to start and where we can go within construction when we understand where we and our companies are starting.

Podcast: Construction DEI Talks

Episode: Diversifying Your Network Amy Waninger

Welcome to Construction DEI Talks, a podcast discussing diversity, equity and inclusion as it relates to the construction industry. Your hosts are Jorge Quezada, Vice President of Inclusive Diversity at Granite Construction and Stephanie Roldan, Director of Lean Culture at RosendinEach episode will bring new conversations with subject matter experts about how we can make the industry a more diverse and inclusive place.

Today’s guest is Amy Waninger, Founder and CEO of Lead at Any Level, a leadership training and consulting service for U.S. based insurance and technology companies. Amy defines her own work as helping reclusive nerds become inclusive leaders and has even written a book all about inclusivity. To kick off the conversation, she shares the time she felt the most “different” from her peers in a computer science course at her college.

Then, Amy discusses her thinking behind writing her book Network Beyond Bias. When her company hired a chief diversity officer, she became extremely interested in that field of work. She attended a conference of 7,000 people discussing the problems of diversity and inclusion in the insurance industry. She proposed the idea of leading her own discussion at the next year’s conference focused on advising how the average person can make a difference in their own ways. Looking at her own network, Amy realized the lack of diversity it contained. After making this realization, she was determined to make sure more people looked at their own network in a similar way.

Amy reveals why so much of her work is centered around the word bias. What we think, feel and believe really doesn’t change the world at all, but what we do based on these principles. Bias is simply a preference for or against something. Unconscious bias is all of the decisions we make, but don’t quite realize we are making. Our brains are not wired to know when we are being biased, so Amy advises her clients on a 3-step action plan to uncover these habits. First, notice how you feel throughout the day when you meet someone new, then ask yourself why. Next, notice how other people around you are responding to things. Finally, figure out how we can stop this way of thinking in its tracks and divert it somewhere else.

 

Then, Amy addresses what it really means to be a good person. As human beings, we are all often both good and bad people who have moments of generosity, selfishness, greed and good and bad intent. She encourages listeners to challenge their own notions of what we think makes a person good or bad. As the episode wraps up, she offers advice specifically to those in the construction industry. First, think about what it is that you bring to a team which fills you up and brings values to others. Once you know this, you’re ready to start networking. Allow yourself to be uncomfortable, branch out from your specific trade and look for people from the outside who you can bring in.

 

Links:

Learn more about Lead at Any Level or contact Amy directly at amy@leadatanylevel.com

Connect with Stephanie Roldan.

Connect with Jorge Quezada.

Learn more about Construction DEI Talks on LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.

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