Firm working to ensure Black involvement

BILL DIGGS | 4/3/2014, 9 a.m.

“No group of leaders will do more than you will today with your decision to decide the fate of the planning, construction and frankly economic future of this county . . . I also believe that it makes a statement as to whether you intend to grab this once in a lifetime opportunity to meet the cultural, socioeconomic and diversity aspirations of this city and this region. I would like everyone in this room to take a look at this team. Not only do we talk about diversity, we live it. We are it.”

These are the words that Jacqueline Hinman, CEO of CH2M Hill, spoke as she finished her presentation before the Mayoral Advisory Committee in the procurement for Program Manager for Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department’s rehabilitation and replacement of the Miami-Dade water and sewer system. Ms. Hinman is one of 23 women running a Fortune 500 company—the 500 largest companies in the world.

I applaud her and her efforts to be inclusive and diverse.

When I look at the CH2M Hill team, I see Miami. The leaders on the team are Hispanic, African American and Haitian. That team looks like Miami-Dade County. It’s racially and culturally mixed. It represents the stew of our beautiful community. Even their lead attorney is African American and CH2M Hill’s highest ranked executives on this project are Cuban and Haitian American. They also have local Black, Cuban and women owned businesses on the team. That’s why Jacqueline Hinman’s statement is so striking and true: Not only do we talk about diversity, we live it. We are it. When it comes to diversity, CH2M HILL doesn’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk. They are involved in great organizations like the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE).

We have seen a lot of major projects come to Miami-Dade County. Everybody gets excited about the opportunities. Some firms come into the African American community and make all kinds of promises about jobs and how we can benefit. They may even join a few community groups. Then they leave.

CH2M Hill, on the other hand, came in and broke the mold. CH2M HILL asked our community to partner with them. In a first of its kind move, CH2M HILL asked the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce, the oldest Black business organization in South Florida, to become a team member and participate in the project. They asked the chamber to sit at the table with them. They didn’t just want an endorsement. CH2M HILL asked the chamber to join their team and to help them find other local minority owned businesses that could work on this massive project.

The taxpayers of this community — all of us — deserve to participate in the projects when they come to the community. Many times, it seems that our community is left looking for crumbs that fall off the table. We are left begging to be included. Promises are made, but not fulfilled. This time will be different because we are at the table. We have real partnership and real inclusion. We have a firm in CH2M HILL that values us and our input. This is the power of inclusion.

Bill Diggs is the President of Mourning family foundation.