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AEC Companies Communication During a Social Movement: Companies that Inspire Us

When an entire country is faced with uncertainty and unrest, it can be difficult for firms to know the right way to respond and take action internally and externally. Many firms don’t know how or when to speak up.

“It’s always the right time to do what’s right. We’re in the midst of a movement. It’s not a trend,” says Donya Edler, Smartegies’ Executive Vice President.

While this is true, it is important firms approach conversations about diversity and inclusion authentically. If your employees do not feel internally supported, your external approach will fall flat. We have seen firms throughout the AEC industry speak up in many different but effective ways. It’s about knowing what aligns with your company’s values and mission. By doing so, you are building brand loyalty and trust internally, which will reflect externally. Whether it be a statement from your CEO, a specialty landing page, a social media campaign, employee spotlight, or charitable act, many AEC firms have found ways for their values and employee voices to be heard. Below are a few examples of companies that inspire us.

1. Jacobs- Speaking Up and Out for Equality:
Jacobs is a model of diversity and inclusivity when it comes to brand activism. With an unparalleled focus on collaboration and ensuring everyone’s perspective is heard, Jacobs seeks to create an environment where all employees can thrive. Messages from multiple C-suite executives addressing equality can be found on a specialty landing page. Having the landing page front and center on the homepage of their website lays the groundwork for a culture of community and tells internal and external audiences exactly where they stand.


2. NELSON Worldwide- Commitment to their Community:
NELSON Worldwide’s Community Statement landing page provides a wealth of resources for those who are seeking to become educated and involved. Their message, centered around social justice, ties back to their mission to “boldly transform the human experience,” which made their commitment align directly with their brand. NELSON took an actionable approach by listing resources for visitors to learn, donate, and take action. By directly addressing the community and vocalizing where they are showing support, they add value to their customers and employees.


3. H.J. Russell- CEO Speaks on Racial Injustice in America: 
J. Russell, an African American, family-owned company, released a personalized statement from CEO Michael B. Russell. He addresses his commitment to upholding the standards his father founded the company in 1952. The heartfelt message highlighted the strength in his company’s diversity and his promise to contribute to true change in his company and community. Not only is the message clear and concise, it directly identifies the actions his company is taking. This clear and pointed messaging is a common approach because of its positive impact.


4. Chasm Architecture- The Human Spirit in Unbreakable: 
Similarly, African American boutique design firm Chasm Architecture’s CEO, Nate Clark, released an especially pointed message that acknowledged how empty words are when there is no action or intent behind them. Through the statement, he addresses the importance for leaders to fully commit to inclusive and diverse corporate cultures. In January 2020, Chasm Academy was created as a mentorship program for young design professionals. This gives Chasm an opportunity to evoke change in the architecture industry through the next generation.


5. JLL- Building Pride: 
The call for corporate action on social issues is not limiting, but universally inclusive. JLL’s landing page on LGBTQ+ community pride creates an unwavering stance on the company’s focus on inclusion and diversity in their workplace. Featured on their page is a spot for their own employees to tell their stories, perspectives, and what drives their passion for creating new opportunities to further their company’s commitment to corporate initiatives. This approach offers employees an outlet to connect, tell their stories, and learn from each other.


6. The Beck Group- Addressing Mental Health: 
The Beck Group is leading the conversation about mental health in the workplace – specifically in the construction industry. There is a transformative power in talking about issues openly. Beck’s year-round initiative to host educational sessions for employees and their families and mental health inclusion in their policies and jobsites is an authentic approach with a better future in mind.


7. Albion- Albion Achievement Endowed Scholarship:
It is vital for companies to look internally for external change. Albion’s establishment of a collegiate scholarship for low-income students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic is an example of corporate accountability behind brand communication. This approach lays the foundation


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