Episode 5: Diversifying your network – Amy Waninger

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.



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

Connect with Stephanie Roldan.

Connect with Jorge Quezada.

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