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:
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
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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.
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 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.
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.