One of the most successful construction and architectural firms in U.S. is launching an initiative to help pass the torch.
In a recent announcement, McKissack & McKissack debuted ‘AEC Unites,’ a coalition aimed at inspiring promoting and spuring equity and inclusion in the AEC industry for Black talent and Black-owned businesses, per a news release.
“As a nonprofit membership organization, AEC Unites seeks to increase intentional opportunities for Black talent and Black-owned businesses in all facets of the AEC industry,” the announcement states. “Through efforts that will range from partnerships with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other groups, to mentorship, training, professional development, and coaching, it will serve as a resource for Black talent. To create sustainable opportunities and support Black-owned businesses, it will offer member companies a database of Black-owned AEC businesses and a playbook on how to work with them.”
Black workers have only held 7% of all architecture, engineering and/or construction jobs despite representing 13% of all the industries’ workers. conversely, White workers make up 77% of the workforce yet hold 87% of all construction jobs and 83% of all architecture and engineering jobs, AEC Unites points out in its anouncement.
AEC Unites came at the helm of Deryl McKissack, founder of McKissack & McKissack more than 30 years ago.
“Experience has taught me that Black businesses and professionals get hired for major projects in this industry mostly when it’s required—and then it’s usually as subcontractors rather than project leads,” McKissack said in a statement. “It’s a constant struggle to be accepted as lead. It’s hard for minorities to get in the room, let alone get a seat at the proverbial table. Yet that’s how we meet potential clients and establish strong relationships that will lead to new business opportunities. People often hire who they know.”