ESG Program: Social
Inclusion and Diversity (I&D)
We believe that a strong, thriving company requires a diverse team with a broad range of perspectives, backgrounds, knowledge and experiences. We promote an inclusive environment where employees are respected, empowered and encouraged to be their true selves. Once a year, we host a forum in which employees are encouraged to share their ideas for continued fostering of this environment.
Woolpert implements three primary I&D strategies: diverse recruitment, diversity awareness and mentorship opportunities and inclusive succession planning.
In 2021, roughly half of our new employees were diversity hires, and we are committed to maintaining this percentage moving forward—even at the highest levels of leadership.
To develop a pipeline for diverse, AEG talent, Woolpert partners with three historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) on multiple intern and professional recruiting programs. Known for their excellent AEG programs, Jackson State University, MS; Central State University, OH; and South Carolina State University, SC, work with Woolpert to engage students in AEG courses and career paths.
In 2022, Woolpert and Jackson State kicked off a joint research effort to support the modernization of coastal surge models for the Army Corps of Engineers. Five Jackson State student researchers were awarded summer internships exposing them to the industry. This five-year research initiative serves as a model for like efforts, including planned 2023 partnerships with Central State and South Carolina State for similar national research programs.
Additionally, Woolpert participates in the University of Cincinnati Women and Men of Color Engineering Camp, a five-day experience uniquely designed to expose high school students to engineering disciplines and careers. We want these young men and women to know that they have a place in STEM, and we would love for that place to be this firm.
Diversity Mentorship Opportunities
When scoping projects, Woolpert engages its Diversity Partner Mentorship Program to prioritize the identification of roles for diverse business partners. This ongoing approach is routinely analyzed to strengthen and build new partnerships.
Inclusive Succession Planning
We are committed to grooming diverse talent across the organization for leadership and other career opportunities. Woolpert’s individual development plans enable employees to collaborate with their people managers on professional advancement objectives and regularly monitor progress.
Our firm also sees the value that people at all stages of their career bring to the workforce, bringing a necessary variety of perspectives and skills with them. As part of this, we know the importance of having a robust student program. The summer 2022 program was the largest in our history with 50 students globally, and in 2021, 30% of our students were hired on as employees. Our students take part in many of our programs, including sitting on the panel for the UC Men and Women of Color Camp.
A note to our South African audience: Guided by the South African Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment, Woolpert will do its best to transform and empower previously disadvantaged South Africans by increasing equity ownership in the company/group and preferred suppliers to our South African small- and medium-sized enterprises. Part of our transformation strategy will be to address potential inequalities on all occupational levels. Any previously disadvantaged employees will be supported with additional resources to ensure they are equipped for successful careers within the group.
As a firm dedicated to moving the world forward through forward thinking, we want to impact the world around us in a positive way. Our employees are responsible for upholding Woolpert’s vision and core values at work and within our communities.
From a corporate standpoint, we focus our charitable giving and service efforts primarily on organizations that benefit underprivileged youth. In a world of rapid change and intense challenges, we empower our people to be the change they want to see by supporting volunteer and community engagement activities such as:
- Mentoring and giving in partnership with local Boys and Girls Clubs
- Building a local playground (with partner KaBOOM!) with elements requested specifically by a group of “client” children
- Participating in the annual Joshua’s Great Things fundraiser, created by a Woolpert employee to help find cures for pediatric cancers after his son's diagnosis
- Donating toys and other holiday gifts to struggling families through the Giving Angels program at Hannah’s Treasure Chest
Employee safety is a top Woolpert priority. While we focus on meeting our key performance indicators (KPI), our philosophy is about more than chasing industry metrics to benefit market objectives. We must align these goals organically with our firm's core values, and employee safety comes first.
If an employee feels unsafe at any time while working on site, they are authorized to issue a pause as part of our Stop Work Authority policy. All employees working in that area must cease activity and not resume until the situation is evaluated, required changes are completed and all agree that it is safe to continue.
We view any near misses or incidents capable of posing a safety threat as training opportunities for all employees. We established a Microsoft Yammer community around employee safety specifically for employees to share safety updates, concerns and other relevant topics.
2021 Safety KPIs
Recordable incident rate
Days away from work cases
Days away, restricted or
COVID-19 took the world by storm, calling for companies across all industries to respond in bold ways to proactively protect their employees and business. As the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided information about the virus’ spread, Woolpert’s leadership responded quickly and decisively with an employee safety-first approach that continues to this day. Our response plan included the following components:
- Regular, frequent and transparent updates from the CEO regarding employee wellbeing and affected business
- Billable COVID-19 charge number, that upon approval from managers and HR, supported individuals who couldn’t work due to pandemic-induced consequences
- Roadmap to Reopen, a detailed, phased approach for corporate travel and return to the office
In 2022, based on employee feedback, we created permanent, hybrid-remote options for many roles. Woolpert has fully embraced the silver lining related to the work-life balance brought about by the pandemic.
Employees recognized and praised leadership’s efforts by scoring Woolpert’s 2020 Great Place to Work Survey question, “I have been satisfied with the flexibility, resources and communications provided by Woolpert during the COVID-19 pandemic” with a resounding 94% response of “Almost always true” or “Often true.”
Employee Wellbeing and Wellness
Woolpert’s dedication to employees, their families and their wellbeing spans the hours both on and off the clock. We understand that each employee is unique, and we aim to focus on individual needs to provide consistent and equitable experiences for all.
We recently launched a new global employee assistance program (EAP) to better serve our people and their mental wellbeing. Our EAP provides employees and their families with practical information, emotional support and coaching. Employees can reach out about personal and work-related challenges and goals any time of the day or night, 365 days a year. Employees took advantage of more EAP-offered health coaching sessions in 2022 than in 2021.
Woolpert also offers a fitness reimbursement program that pays for a portion of fitness facility fees for employees and one additional family member each. Usage of this program also increased from 2021.
Through our partnership with a wellness coach, we also infuse wellness into normal team meetings, new-hire orientations, welcoming of newly acquired staff members and more.
Woolpert develops and markets its services with honesty and integrity. We focus on fact-based claims about our services and how they benefit clients. These claims drive our internal and external communications efforts. For example, our press releases undergo a formal checkpoint process to ensure both the project lead and client agree to what is being communication.
Responsibility is another key tenet when it comes to Woolpert’s marketing efforts. If ever an error is made, we address and correct it swiftly. When it comes to our I&D initiatives, we are thoughtful in how we externally communicate our stance and our strides. We are measured when choosing what we communicate regarding ESG momentum. We choose to err on the side of responsible discretion to ensure that we are succeeding in our efforts.