As a women-led company in a male-dominated industry, Nitsch has been working to address workforce diversity issues since our founding. We are dedicated to fostering an environment that respects and values people from diverse backgrounds and enables all employees to live up to their full potential and bring their full selves to work. It is an inclusive environment representing and supporting professionals of diverse race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and disability, where the unique combination of talents, experiences, and perspectives of each employee makes our business success possible. Our commitment to truly making change was recognized by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce with the 2022 Small Business of the Year Award in the Diversity & Inclusion category.
Our commitment goes beyond simply avoiding discrimination. Nitsch takes proactive steps to achieve equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) – both within our company and on project teams. In addition to seeking out and working with a variety of women-owned business enterprises (WBEs), minority-owned business enterprises (MBEs), Veteran-owned business enterprises (VOBEs), and LGBTQ+-owned businesses, Nitsch works towards promoting a more diverse and equitable work environment and leadership structure in seven key ways:
- Addressing wage equity: As a signer of the 100% Talent Compact and member of the Boston Women’s Workforce Council, Nitsch has demonstrated a true commitment to understanding – and closing – the gender and race wage gaps. Our wage process is rooted in fairness, as it involves assessing the salary of each employee and potential new hire, as well as their qualifications and experience, each year, and balancing as appropriate.
- Integrating EDI into all that we do – including our benefits, policies, and procedures: Our Council for EDI ensures that EDI is incorporated into everything we do as a company. This task force reviews our policies and procedures for hidden biases, diversifies our spending with vendors and suppliers, increases access for employment to underrepresented communities, and invests in annual EDI training, regular workshops, and ongoing education.
- Fostering a sense of belonging: Our employee-led Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DI&B) Employee Resource Group (ERG) works to foster a sense of belonging and trust across the company and among individuals so that they may feel supported, seen, and heard. The committee does this by providing educational opportunities around diversity and inclusion topics, creating safe spaces for conversations, and promoting events that celebrate our cultural differences and the uniqueness of individuals.
- Supporting work-life balance: Women make up 52% of the professional workforce, but only fill 39% of management roles. People of color only fill 28% of management roles. Nitsch believes that a critical component of this drop-off is a lack of flexibility in work environments, which unduly impact women and people of color. For this reason, we provide a flexible work environment that allows employees to stay in the workforce and continue to grow, even as they pursue other personal goals. Our Women’s ERG and Working Parents ERG provide an important support system for our employees.
- Providing mentoring solutions: One key issue for women and people of color seeking to grow their career is a lack of mentors to help them learn to succeed. Through our internal mentoring programs, as well as support for organizations such as Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS), Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW), the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Nitsch provides opportunities for women and people of color to benefit from mentoring relationships.
- Expanding employment opportunities and producing measurable results: Our Affirmative Action Plan summarizes our commitment to making sure that job opportunities are shared with women and underrepresented populations, and to making good faith efforts to fill job openings from these populations, as available. This includes leveraging established connections with organizations that focus on women and minority groups in engineering, recruiting online at schools and colleges with significant women and minority group enrollments, and advertising in appropriate trade publications.
- Diversifying Nitsch’s staff: Nitsch is committed to taking affirmative action to ensure that no individuals are discriminated against because of their race, color, religion, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ancestry, mental illness, national origin, age, disability, protected genetic information, marital status, citizenship status, arrest record, military service, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law in the firm’s hiring practices, in employees’ performance evaluations, in pay rates, or in considerations for promotions or terminations. We have every intention of continuing to hire staff which includes qualified women, minorities, veterans, individuals with disabilities, and other protected classes.
“I have seen first-hand the unconscious bias that can happen when a group made up entirely of men are making all the decisions. That same unconscious bias can occur when people all of one race, or one religion, or any other category, make all the decisions. To address unconscious biases, women and minorities need a seat at the table, and need to be involved in making decisions about promotions and leadership.”Lisa A. Brothers, PE, ENV SP, LEED AP BD+C, President & CEO
Within the Engineering Industry
Engineering is well known as an industry for its lack of diversity: a 2019 Georgetown University study found that the US STEM workforce is 65% white, 15% Asian, 16% Hispanic or Latinx, and 3% Black; the overall US STEM workforce is only 16% female. While this gap is the result of a huge range of intersecting issues, Nitsch is focused on addressing one critical issue: not engaging underrepresented K-12 students with the idea of engineering.
Proactive education and outreach are critical to helping build a more diverse STEM pipeline of talent. To this end, Nitsch leads or participates in a number of activities:
- We host an annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day that teaches ~100 girls per year about engineering as a career.
- We fund at least one annual college scholarship for a student who is underrepresented in engineering, through the Judith Nitsch Scholarship.
- We support the ACE Mentoring program, which focuses on attracting underrepresented high school students to the architecture, engineering, and construction industry
- We are actively involved in providing teachers and students from communities that are economically disadvantaged with engineering education as part of United Way’s BoSTEM initiative and Mass STEM Week.