Growing through diversity

Posted in: Municipal, Water

I-heart-my-team_600x400I  ❤  MY TEAM. This is the name tag banner I selected at the recent Women Leading Water symposium. I look forward to this annual conference to network and share experiences with my fellow women engineers. Each year I leave the day feeling empowered, full of new knowledge, more optimistic about the future, and eager to share.

Two years ago I posted a blog about gender diversity in engineering and the importance of a professional network providing continued support. Despite our collective efforts, we are still falling short in gender diversity within our profession, although the trends are improving. To remedy this, we need continued youth outreach to highlight opportunities in engineering, continuing through college. The work doesn’t end with youth outreach, however—most importantly, we need to support each other through career growth and development. Closing the gender gap is important; however, focusing solely on gender diversity in our industry is missing the mark.

All types of diversity are important and extremely valuable to our company. Bringing together ideas from various backgrounds, viewpoints, and experiences is instrumental to our success. Fostering a diverse workplace unites different skills and experiences for an improved learning environment and helps to encourage creativity and innovation. In addition, company performance improves and there is less turnover.

Diversity is vital not only in our project teams but in our professional networks as well. At the Women Leading Water symposium last year, I heard a statement that really resonated with me: If you look around at your network and see you are surrounded by people who all look like you, you are missing out on the value and benefit of diversity. With this enlightened perspective, I have a greater appreciation of my network and the diversity of backgrounds and perspectives it contains. We celebrate our successes, offer support for our challenges, and continue to learn and grow from one another. Our differences make us stronger.

Kari Nichols, PE

About the Author

If a raindrop falls on the project, Kari Nichols, P.E., gets involved to find a stormwater management solution. “I believe in dedication and follow-through,” she says. “Deciphering regulatory language and developing workable design solutions helps me connect with clients and colleagues.” Kari has a taste for adventure and a passion for sustainability, which she satisfies by exploring natural and urban environments.

Read more posts by Kari Nichols, PE

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