More than 100 industry leaders and stakeholders came together June 24 for ABC’s fifth annual Diversity & Inclusion Summit to discuss the value of diversity in construction. The summit kicked off with Thomas Grandmaison, managing director of strategy and innovation for Aon’s Construction Services Group; Derek Hoffine, operations manager for Hensel Phelps; and Luke Sherry, research analyst at the consulting firm FMI, who presented on the state of the construction industry. The session explored technology in construction, emerging trends and the role of diversity and inclusion in the workforce.

In a keynote address, Frans Johansson, preeminent expert on diversity and innovation and bestselling author, inspired attendees by explaining how the best ideas and innovations come from collaboration between people with diverse experiences, skills, expertise, perspectives, backgrounds and cultures. In his remarks, he stressed how important diversity and inclusion are to both rewrite the rules and create new ideas. Johansson said, “Diversity and inclusion drives innovation. It is the one thing that is going to give you a competitive edge.” Johansson’s keynote address concluded with a rapid-fire feedback session where audience members shared their initial reactions to his perspectives. Johansson also signed copies of his book, “The Medici Effect.”

Attendees also heard from a panel of small business owners and general contractors who provided practical solutions to help clarify the true meaning of capacity-building, going into detail about financial growth, expansion into new trades and more. Another panel spotlighted diversity efforts at the local ABC level, featuring ABC chapter presidents Peter Dyga of the ABC Florida East Coast Chapter, Brian Sampson of the ABC Empire State Chapter and Jean Toman of the ABC Delaware Chapter. Each panelist shared the unique tactics their organization used to achieve ABC’s goals of expanding diversity and inclusion initiatives and delivering best practices.

Caryn York, the first African American woman to lead the Job Opportunities Task Force in Baltimore, shed light on criminal justice reform and how the First STEP Act will help address the workforce shortage in the country. York shared details about Project JumpStart, an 87-hour pre-apprenticeship program that provides classroom and hands-on training to Baltimore residents. The day concluded with ABC Memorandum of Understanding partners the National Association of Minority Contractors, National Black Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Pan Asian Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Veterans Business Alliance and Women Construction Owners and Executives speaking about collaboration, synergies, partnerships and more.

ABC, its chapters and member companies strive to embrace diversity as an empowering competitive advantage through education, awareness and business practices. ABC’s diversity outreach is led by the association’s Diversity Committee, which was established in 1999 as a key component of ABC’s value proposition to develop people, win work and deliver work safely, ethically and profitably for the betterment of the communities in which they work. The committee also plays an instrumental role in ABC’s strategy to grow and deliver value to a diverse and committed membership.