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Study Reveals Firms Lack Diversity
March 28, 2011

The A/E/P and environmental consulting industry remains mostly white and male dominated due to a set of reasons ranging from archaic hiring practices to fewer minorities seeking careers in the field, The Zweig Letter revealed in a recent report.

According to an online survey of human resources professionals in the architecture, engineering, planning and environmental consulting fields, more than half of respondents described their firm as “not very diverse, with less than one third of employees being minorities.” Only 8.3 percent of participants described their firm as “very diverse,” with over half of employees being minorities.

“It’s a sore subject that many managers don’t like to talk about because it makes them uncomfortable,” Stephen Hinton, managing director of Hinton Human Capital, told TZL, ZweigWhite’s weekly management publication. “It’s not a plot; it’s not a situation where there is insidious, systemic racism or exclusion. It’s a situation with more than one force at work.”

Among those forces is a management-by-numbers mentality that doesn’t balance well with the management of people, Hinton said. Moreover, A/E/P and environmental consulting firms suffer from an unhealthy supply of minority candidates who seek degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

Data from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Educational Statistics, compiled in 2010, indicates bachelor’s degree completion rates for A/E-related studies were higher among white and Asian students than for students who describe themselves as black, Hispanic or “other.”

Many firms also tend to overlook minority schools producing capable architects and engineers, Hinton said, which is unfortunate, because recruiters can find some “top-notch candidates there.”

According to the survey, 50 percent of respondents indicated that despite their best efforts, not enough minorities apply with their firms. Eight percent said their area of the country is not very diverse, and they hire mostly locally, while 40 percent responded with “other” reasons why their firm doesn’t employ many minorities.

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