IEA Reflects on Universal Human Rights Month

Do you know the difference between diversity, inclusion, equality, and equity?

“Generally, the 3 things people think of when talking diversity is gender, nationality, and race/culture. Those are not the only ones. They are the most obvious. True diversity comes from valuing the different experiences and backgrounds of every member of the team,” said Diana K. Smith, IEA’s HR Manager.

So, what are the definitions of these words we hear floating around?

  • Diversity – the condition of having or being composed of differing elements.
  • Inclusion – the act or practice of including and accommodating people who have historically been excluded (as because of their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, or ability).
  • Equality – the quality or state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities.
  • Equity – fairness or justice in dealings between persons.

At the beginning of 2023, we challenged ourselves to spotlight and champion the successes of IEA Team members and other STEM leaders making a mark on the world.

Our goal was to highlight how a diverse and inclusive space could “plant the seeds for growth, innovation, and inspiration in a team,” as described by Albert Dorantes, PE, CFM (IEA Houston, Project Manager).

So how do we bring these things into IEA?

“Helping each other, asking questions, openness. The openness to ask questions and to be given the opportunity to learn and grow,” said Smith.

At the end of IEA’s annual meeting in November 2023, Principal/CEO Shakeel Ahmed, PE challenged each employee to do just that.

“If anybody has any questions, doors are always open. So, feel free to talk to Diana, Joe [Tabone, IEA CFO], your supervisors, office leads, anybody. My doors are always open. So don’t hesitate to share your ideas. We need your smarts. We need your ideas to grow. So don’t be bashful,” said Ahmed.

IEA has been expanding opportunities to bring people together in committees to hear opinions and ideas on how to manage, create, advance, retain, and recruit amazing people.

With programs like the IEA Retention Committees, founded in 2020, with the goal of planning events to foster a positive work environment; IEA Aspire Summer Internship Program, founded in 2022, with the goal of bringing interns and IEA projects together in a collaborative environment to encourage professional growth; and the new IEA Training Committee tasked with finding new ways to mentor, train, and promote our IEA staff in 2024.

“That’s the basics of human rights, valuing each person as an individual and allowing each of them to contribute to the entire organization,” said Smith.

As we move into 2024, IEA will continue to seek opportunities to amplify the voices of our diverse IEA team and other inspiring STEM leaders to work towards a more inclusive, equal, and equitable space to learn, grow, and innovate.