With the federal government elevating focus on sustainability and equity through the Infrastructure Bill and RAISE grants—Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity—equity in the built environment is at the forefront of conversation in the AEC industry. VHB, a company that holds diversity as a core value, is dedicated to delivering sustainable and equitable solutions that benefit communities and create a more resilient future.
“Social equity needs to be at the heart of smart, future-focused community design. There is tremendous opportunity for planners, designers, engineers, and scientists to reimagine the built environment for the better,” said VHB President & CEO Mike Carragher, PE.
This month, VHB serves as Platinum Sponsor of the Transportation Research Board’s (TRB) inaugural Conference on Advancing Transportation Equity (CATE). To be held virtually on September 9, 10, 13 and 14, the conference bridges the gap between the transportation equity analyses that agencies conduct and conditions on the ground.
VHB shares TRB’s dedication to providing transportation leadership focused on innovation and equitable infrastructure improvements. Currently, VHB is working with a DOT client to catalog equity indicators used by the agency and their partners to assess the impact of project decisions on overall equity to the communities in which they operate. And, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, VHB led the development of MARTA’s Essential Bus Service Plan, addressing the drastic drop in ridership while accounting for the needs of a vulnerable, bus-dependent population.
During TRB CATE, Niki Hastings, PE, VHB Director, TPO, will moderate the Measuring Equity session. Eric Tang, PE, RSP1, RSP2B, CATE Planning Committee and Senior Highway Safety Engineer at VHB, will moderate Safety Equity Issues in Rural, Tribal, Indigenous and Isolated Communities. Eric and Kim Eccles, PE, VHB’s Transportation Services Leader, will moderate sessions during the TRB CATE Student Engagement Series, focused on connecting students and young professionals with their future in transportation.
“VHB has intentionally fostered a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion since our founding,” said Keri Kocur, VHB’s Chief People Officer. “We’re focused on diversifying hiring and expanding our candidate pipeline through initiatives such as our Collage Ambassador Program and HBCU Connect Partnership. We are honored to partner with TRB to increase student engagement at CATE and draw focus to the importance of transportation equity.”
VHB has taken a leadership stance in advancing DEI in the AEC industry. President & CEO Mike Carragher and CPO Keri Kocur are members of the ACEC Design Professionals Coalition (DPC) D&I Working Group (DIWG). DPC is a national organization that harnesses the combined resources and capabilities of leading firms to address critical political and public policy issues. In 2018, VHB co-sponsored with DPC the first D&I-focused survey conducted in the AEC industry, which established a baseline for benchmarking D&I program development. The DIWG used the survey results and collected examples and insights on best practices for furthering DEI initiatives at AEC firms so that they can advance the entire industry together. Results were published in a March 2020 report, Diversity & Inclusion, Keys to Success & Lessons Learned.
VHB’s focus on DEI enables the company to better anticipate and respond to the needs of clients and communities. This approach to planning, engineering, and design has a tremendous impact on creating more equitable and inclusive communities.
Register for TRB CATE here.