Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council

GRAEF is dedicated to aligning our culture and business practices to be a beacon of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging for all people.

GRAEF’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

A letter from John Kissinger, President and CEO

We all have recently been reminded that there is a great deal of work that needs to be done in our world – especially in business practices. With this renewed focus, GRAEF has been steadfast in our dedication to aligning our culture and business practices to be a beacon of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging for all people.

This is not a passive commitment on our part, but an active component of our core GRAEF culture. 

In summer of 2020, GRAEF formed the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council (DEIC) to accept the challenge of shaping a culture that models inclusion and embraces diversity in all its forms. The Council is a close partner to leadership at GRAEF, a driver of courageous conversations, a believer in "comfort with discomfort" and an innovator looking to continuously improve GRAEF's impact on the workforce, workplace, and marketplace. 

We hold a shared commitment to these guiding principles:

  • We believe that diversity can only thrive within an inclusive environment.
  • We are committed to advancing a culture of inclusion, equity and fairness in all our business dealings (internal and external), regardless of race, religion, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation, veteran status, disability or handicap, in all the places where we work, and the communities in which we live.
  • We are committed to the long journey of uncovering and mitigating the unconscious biases within ourselves and the systemic biases within our workplaces and marketplaces. Therefore, we will actively challenge our assumptions and question our biases.
  • We believe that Black lives matter because all lives do matter, and that this is an issue of human rights.
  • We are committed to becoming “comfortable with discomfort” as we embark on the journey toward greater inclusion.
  • We recognize that the workforce, workplace and marketplace are undergoing rapid changes, and we will adapt and grow with agility so that we can continue to succeed.

There is always more we can do. Here at GRAEF, this is just a starting point. We are on a journey towards real change, action, and accountability to appreciate diversity in all forms; inviting dissenting voices to the table and using difference as a bridge to greater innovation; recognizing exceptional talent, and celebrating the key to GRAEF's continued success in a rapidly changing marketplace. 

We look forward to the progress ahead, 

John Kissinger, PE, SE, LEED AP
President and CEO

Mission

GRAEF is committed to becoming a leader in the industry with respect to diversity, equity and inclusion. To that end, in 2020 GRAEF created the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council (DEIC). 

The DEIC exists to guide GRAEF in building a culture that models inclusion and embraces diversity in all of its forms. The Council works with GRAEF's leadership and employees at large to uncover and mitigate unconscious biases within ourselves and the systemic biases within our workplaces and marketplaces. 

We recognize that this is a journey and are committed to challenging our own beliefs, and to becoming comfortable with discomfort as we strive to recognize and appreciate many faces and colors of leadership; invite dissenting voices to the tables and use difference as a bridge to greater innovation; exceptional recognition of talent; and the key to GRAEF's continued success in a rapidly changing marketplace.

Meet the GRAEF Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council (DEIC)

The DEIC or Council, was formed in the summer of 2020 to accept the challenge of shaping a culture that models inclusion and embraces diversity in all its forms. 

As a body, the Council is a close partner to the leadership at GRAEF, a driver of courageous conversations, a believer in "comfort with discomfort" and an innovator looking to continuously improve GRAEF's impact on the workforce, workplace and marketplace. Meet the Council members:

Jenny Christel, Director of Human Resources

Jenny Christel

Director of Human Resources
Favorite quote: "Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success."

Why I love being on the Council: I really enjoy learning more about each team member and hearing their diverse perspectives and ideas. Each of us on the council is deeply committed to building a culture of greater diversity, equity and inclusion and I look forward to continuing to learn from one another along this journey.
Hannibal

Hannibal Jackson

CADD Technician
Favorite quote: "Those without sin, cast the first stone."

Why I love being on the Council: This Council gives me a chance for people to hear, visualize and understand what systemic racism is, and how it affects minorities.
Carrie DEIC

Carrie Warner

Sr. HR Business Partner
Favorite quote: "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better." – Maya Angelou

Why I love being on the Council: As an employee who's worked at GRAEF for over two decades, I care about fostering our environment so that Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is one of our top priorities. Everyone at GRAEF, whether it be a candidate, employee or client should feel not only welcomed, but also included. Our Council is passionate about this initiative and I've enjoyed working towards this goal and learning a lot.
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Neal McLain

Civil Engineer
Favorite quote: "The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.” – Kobe Bryant

Why I love being on the Council: I am extremely excited to be a part of DEIC because of the importance that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion has had in my life. I grew up in a very diverse family, and I learned early on that discrimination can take place in many forms, whether it be by race, gender, or disability, among others. I jumped at the opportunity to join the committee because I believe my perspective could be used for good. It is always positive to use one’s platform to help others, and I am so glad to be at a company that values that.
Tammy

Tammy Pearce

Structural Engineer, Business Development Associate
Favorite Quote: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out all fear."

Why I love being on the Council: I joined the Council because I am committed to seeing this firm become the best place to work for every person that would want to, no matter gender, race or religion.
Lori

Lori Rosenthal

Vice President, Facilities Group Leader
Favorite quote: "The time is always right to do what is right." Martin Luther King

Why I love being on the Council: I am very excited to be part of this energy that can help bring cultural change to GRAEF.
Pat

Pat Skalecki

Green Bay Office Leader
Favorite quote: "Control the controllable."

Why I love being on the Council: Because the opportunity to open our minds to other thoughts, experiences, and ideas will allow us to grow as people and a business. A firm that is inclusive will be able to grow and expand with the diversity of thought that only comes with a diverse team. The chance to be part of the team leading this effort is something I could not pass up.
Alex Motl

Alex Motl

Traffic Engineer
Favorite quote: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” -Viktor E Frankl

Why I love being on the Council: Serving on the Council supports my personal commitment to listening, learning, and then acting to strengthen and promote diversity and inclusivity within both my company and my community.  I truly believe that bringing people of all different backgrounds together results in a more creative, engaged, and empathic society. 

The Mission in Action

Parental Leave

GRAEF has adopted an enhanced parental leave policy which gives parents additional flexibility and time to bond with their new child and adjust to their new family situation during this critical phase of parenthood. This policy provides a family-friendly, equitable and inclusive workspace which cultivates an atmosphere where employees can thrive professionally without sacrificing essential family obligations.

Fireside Chats

Fireside chats are a casual conversation among employees to share stories, and thoughts about diversity, equity and inclusion. The informal, small group setting offers a safe place for each person to feel comfortable sharing personal experiences so that others may learn from these stories, juxtaposed to their own. Each chat is hosted by a different person, creating unique and diverse conversation in each session.

Hack-a-thons

Where there is a problem, a solution must be found, and GRAEF’s hack-a-thons do just that. In GRAEF’s hack-a-thons, a diverse group of individuals work together to solve a problem and reimagine the way we do things as a firm. No idea is a bad idea in the facilitated and structured way of solving problems using multiple perspectives, experiences, and inputs.

Focus Groups

Focus groups allow GRAEF to gain valuable knowledge by understanding the opinions of employees. The groups provided input what on GRAEF can do to continuously improve and build a culture of inclusion. Feedback from the focus groups helped shape the viewpoints of GRAEF leadership to make firm-wide decisions that align with most employees.

Firm-wide Unconscious Bias Training

Working with an external consultant, GRAEF offered unconscious bias training to employees. The workshop opens our viewpoints to help us to understand why we think and perceive the world in the way we do. Recognizing that we all have biases helps us to learn and provide a safe place to explore why these biases exist, and how we can overcome them.

GRAEF Foundation

The mission of the GRAEF Foundation is to support the future of Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) based careers, and to promote charitable endeavors related to engineering, planning, and design.

The GRAEF Foundation annually awards college scholarships to Engineering majors. It promotes diversity in the real estate business by its funding of scholarships to a professional development program aimed at minorities. The Foundation has also funded software for charitable firms designing and constructing infrastructure projects in underprivileged communities overseas. This is currently done at five universities. The Foundation also funds college design programs and competitions.