Research shows businesses are more successful and generate higher profit margins when they have diverse talent. Since civil engineering impacts all people, it’s critical that the profession reflects and integrates diverse perspectives and technical expertise to generate forward-looking ideas.

In part two of this ASCE Interchange, Saki Urushidani, a professional engineer in the Environmental Services Department Water Quality Division for the City of Springfield, Missouri, discusses how diverse teams drive civil engineering innovation.

“I think with having different perspectives in the room, you can come up with more creative solutions because historically, engineering has been pretty homogenous,” said Urushidani.

“If our profession stays homogenous, I think it puts the community at risk of not getting the best solution for new challenges that we, as a society, face. With the COVID pandemic, I don’t think anyone knew that would be happening then, so who knows what new challenges we’ll face in the future? So, the more different perspectives you have, I think the better chance you have at coming up with better solutions.”

Diversity and inclusion are terms that we often hear together. And in the workplace, the two go hand-in-hand. Urushidani notes that while it’s important to have different voices in the room, it is just as important to make sure those voices are heard. Having a diverse team will provide alternative perspectives on a project or challenge ideas that a homogenous team may not have initially realized, such as the possibility of infrastructure being used in a different way than intended or the system not being used at all.

She also discusses how a diverse and inclusive workforce can not only help grow the profession by attracting aspiring engineers, but can also help the industry retain experienced professionals. As she states, “having diversity invites diversity.”

See part one of this ASCE Interchange or view other episodes on ASCE’s YouTube channel.