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Recognizing and celebrating Black History Month at Stantec

March 10, 2021

Black History Month encourages us to remember, pay tribute to, and learn from the achievements and life-changing contributions of the Black community

As a Company, Stantec benefits from the contributions of Black professionals—past and present—to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Where would our geographic information system (GIS) and remote sensing teams be today without Valerie Thomas and her pioneering work acquiring satellite images of Earth in the 1970s? George Biddle Kelley—the first African American engineer registered in the State of New York—influenced water engineering for decades through his contributions to the Barge Canal state waterways project in the early 1900s. In 1923, Paul Revere Williams became the first Black member of the American Institute of Architects. And if you’ve ever used an internet search engine, you can thank Alan Emtage for developing the world’s first in 1989.

We see the evidence of these visionary people and inspirational inventions in our work around the world. And we are proud of our people who contribute to the development of future generations of scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians by embracing, engaging, and expanding young Black minds.

Resources for employees

Our Black Employee Resource Group (BLK_ERG) launched in 2019 to focus on increasing the representation of Black professionals and optimizing their growth within Stantec.

“Building diversity into the project supply chain is a powerful engine for economic growth, and diverse knowledge leads to more positive project outcomes,” said US national director of diversity and compliance Carla Artis in our New York office.

Carla is the US co-chair of our BLK_ERG and recently received the prestigious Rosa Parks Diversity Leadership Award from the WTS-GNY (Women Transportation Seminar – Greater New York chapter), an international organization dedicated to building the future of transportation through the global advancement of women. The annual award honors an individual or organization responsible for promoting diversity, inclusion, and multicultural awareness within their organization and the transportation industry.

The BLK_ERG’s mission is to ensure our internal organizational structure and project teams represent the communities we serve. The ERG has members from a range of disciplines across our Company, and the group is open to everyone who wants to learn more, support colleagues, and build bridges within Stantec and across our wider communities.

Stantec’s continuing support

Recognizing and celebrating Black History Month is written in our values: we put people first and we do what is right. We hope our people find this time of year meaningful, educational, and inspirational. Our Inclusion, Diversity & Equity councils and their advisory groups have made clear recommendations on areas where Stantec can address racial injustice and societal inequity. We continue to make progress on our overarching goal to ensure that in all we do, we foster ongoing solidarity with Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.

The Stantec Equity & Diversity Scholarship, for instance, was created to support BIPOC and underrepresented students around the world pursuing careers in STEM. This scholarship awards $200,000 annually. We’re also proud to support organizations including the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) through corporate partnerships, sponsorships, and volunteering.

Listen, learn, and share

As part of Black History Month, the BLK_ERG hosted two events:

The talk

Shortly after the George Floyd killing last year, business center operating leader Marcelle Jones (Houston, Texas) presented a safety and ethics moment to her employees, sharing how black Americans perceive their liberties in the United States. This presentation remains relevant today as Americans continue to navigate their daily existence in a racially polarized world.

Are we there yet?

2020 was full of events that raised questions about social equality. This seminar focused on making these conversations as productive as possible.

As we observed Black History Month, it was important to make a conscious effort to learn more about Black history and communities. Here at Stantec, we offer two Unconscious Bias training sessions per month. This is an easy step our employees can take to understand how the dynamics of race impact the workplace.

My Rosa Parks moment

Senior business solutions analyst Joel Martineau (Washington, DC) shares a special encounter from his childhood:

Sometimes in life, the significance of a situation is lost upon you in the moment. This was the case for me back in 1988, when at the tender age of seven, I had the pleasure to meet Ms. Rosa Parks in Saddle Brook, New Jersey. I learned in school what she had done—refuse to give up her seat on the bus and move to the back because of the color of her skin. But it wasn’t until many years later that I understood what this meant. 

Her sacrifice on behalf of black people not only became an important symbol of efforts to end racial segregation, but a reminder that, no matter who you are or what you do, standing for something can make a difference. As an adult, I can now fully appreciate what a privilege it was to meet her. This memory serves as a constant reminder that the actions of one can have an impact on many.

Though most of us haven’t had an opportunity to meet a historical figure as monumental as Rosa Parks, we’ve all been positively impacted by the actions and achievements of Black people in our communities and beyond.

As our Company continuous to observe Black History Month every year, it provides us with an opportunity to consider what the life-changing personal and professional contributions of the Black community mean to each of us.

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