Studies show that diverse and inclusive organizations have higher-functioning teams, enjoy improved financial performance and attract top-notch talent. While the construction industry has been diversifying for decades, women still make up only about nine percent of people employed in construction. At McKinstry, leaders and team members recognize the importance of continuing to grow and improve diversity and inclusion efforts—and individuals across the organization are bringing their passion, commitment and dedication to fostering inclusivity every day. From serving on advisory committees to bringing unique backgrounds to the table to engaging in tough conversations, these three women are helping to pave the way to greater diversity and inclusion in our industry.
Lori Kajkowski, Senior Estimator, Portland
After starting her career working in graphic design, Lori wanted to capitalize on her mechanical inclination and pursue a career in construction. That was 16 years ago.
“I applied and was accepted into a sheet metal apprenticeship,” Lori explained. “With lots of hard work and a little luck, I gained a wide range of trade experience. For example, I’ve worked in a fabrication shop, hung ductwork, installed architectural sheet metal and worked on industrial projects such as paper mill shutdowns.”
Given her career progression—from graphic design to the trades to her current work in estimating—Lori is passionate about making sure women realize the wide variety of opportunities available to them within the construction industry.
“Women have been largely invisible within the construction industry, so our accomplishments go unnoticed and unappreciated,” Lori said. “As a result, women and girls don’t see the opportunities that exist, and stereotypes persist. Women have been doing a great job in construction for a long time, though, which is why visibility matters.
“I hope we can continue to shape a system that simply identifies people, regardless of sex, who can do a great job in construction, and McKinstry has started internal dialogue and is investing in continued improvement with diversity and inclusion—which puts us way ahead,” she concluded.
As a charter member of McKinstry’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee, Lori is actively helping to drive the company’s efforts in this arena.
“I think that diversity and inclusion are important because if you don’t intentionally include, you unintentionally exclude,” Lori said. “Deliberately cultivating a diverse team creates a solid foundation for a creative environment, and investing in inclusion organizes the diversity of voices into a welcoming culture where innovation can flourish.”
Cameron Hankins, Project Manager, Portland
As Cameron explains it, her journey to the construction industry was anything but conventional. After studying English in college, she joined the U.S. Army as an Engineer Officer, focusing on civil engineering projects. As she was transitioning out of the military, Cameron connected with McKinstry through the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program, which pairs transitioning veterans with participating Seattle-area companies for 12-week fellowships that help them develop their career plans.
After finishing her fellowship, Cameron joined our Portland team because she was “drawn to McKinstry’s core beliefs and commitment to innovation.” As a project manager, she ensures our mechanical projects in Oregon are delivered on time and within budget by overseeing material and equipment procurement, monitoring project financials and assisting in issue resolution.
“When it comes to workplace diversity and inclusion, I think McKinstry does an excellent job with talent acquisition and talent management,” Cameron explained. “McKinstry purposefully builds diverse project teams in order to deliver the most creative, innovative and successful ideas.”
In her time at McKinstry, Cameron said she’s enjoyed working in a collaborative environment where varying levels of expertise and experience come together to solve difficult problems.
“Ultimately, I love working for a company that celebrates and embraces diversity,” she concluded. “As a veteran, I also appreciate that McKinstry recognizes and values my military experience.”
Susie Miller, Technical Services Account Executive, Minneapolis
Last year, after working as a facility manager for many years in the Midwest, Susie realized a business development role at McKinstry would be a perfect fit for her. Now, as part of McKinstry’s Minneapolis team, she is offering services to help facility managers control their daily “pain points,” which she knows all too well.
“It’s been great to be with McKinstry thus far, and my position enables me to help facility managers enjoy their job while they take their facility performance to the next level,” Susie said.
Having worked in the facility management world for over a decade, Susie said she understands what it’s like to be in a male-dominated industry. In response to that imbalance, it’s important for Susie to, as she puts it, “pool together female resources.”
“Women should support each other and provide resources for each other,” Susie explained. “In Minnesota, women at McKinstry are actually creating a ‘Women in Facility Management’ networking opportunity. We’ll be providing educational opportunities specific to facilities management as well as professional development.”
Among many qualities she appreciates about McKinstry, Susie said she especially values the company’s focus on inclusion and diversity, specifically that it’s OK to discuss diversity at McKinstry. Whether it’s gender, sexuality, mental health issues, disabilities, race or religious preference, Susie has personally felt safe to talk about her differences and to ask others about their differences.
“I’ve always had a strong passion for equality,” Susie said. “I’ve also taken the time to educate others. Typically, when others make judgements about people’s differences, it’s because of a lack of knowledge and understanding.”
Susie was thrilled when McKinstry played a diversity and inclusion video during her new hire orientation. The video was so powerful, it compelled her to post it on her personal Facebook page, along with the following comment:
“I found my home—proud new employee.”