Black History Month, Employee Resource Group, Equity Diversity & Inclusion

In honor of Black History Month, Donald Seward Jr., vice president, remediation practice leader, and president of our BeBold Employee Resource Group shares what this month means to him and reflects on BeBold’s many accomplishments in the past year.

Read his thoughts to learn more about how BeBold is celebrating Black history—this month and beyond.

An opportunity for reflection

Every year, Black History Month presents an opportunity for America to reflect on the contributions, accomplishments, and triumphs of Black people in our society. Black history is inseparable from American history, and I am so proud to reflect on how far we have come as a nation and as a people. 

This month, AECOM’s BeBOLD Employee Resource Group is celebrating how Black culture is interwoven into this great country. We seek to empower Black employees to shape the future of the company and the communities we serve. Black History Month shines a light on that mission. We’re engaging exciting speakers who will share their unique multicultural backgrounds as we partner with our family of Employee Resource Groups—teams dedicated to amplifying and uplifting diverse voices—to advance a vision of equity both within and outside of AECOM.

Black History Month is special to me because I always discover more about the depth and breadth of the Black experience and how strong our ancestors were, both in the distant and recent past. As we reflect on our unique, yet shared histories, I’m excited once again to learn more about those experiences and the strength that lies behind them.

Though Black History Month presents a special time for reflection, we share a year-round commitment to uplifting Black employees and building lasting community partnerships that help shape the future of our company. And 2022 was no exception. We’re proud to have become more active than ever in the past year, hosting more than a dozen major events. Here are some of our highlights:

Black Joy

BeBold is about unity. In that sense, it’s also about joy. By acting in concert, we create opportunities to connect,  learn and  succeed. Convening BeBold members and our ERG allies, our 2022 Black Joy series celebrated the Black experience at AECOM and beyond, honoring the contributions of Black people in arts and culture, interrogating inequity and adversity, and discussing political, professional, and personal advancement.  

Our series covered an array of topics, but one event in particular stood out: our Black Joy in Leadership discussion that featured AECOM Board Director Lydia Kennard.

Given Ms. Kennard’s legacy, experience and status as a highly influential executive, she demonstrates Black Joy at the highest levels of business. Ms. Kennard shared her experiences with us in a 45-minute one on one interview and opened a window into her personal and professional life and how her family background, access to education and experience led her to where she is today: a successful black entrepreneur, President and CEO of her own company and AECOM Board Director.

BeBold. BeTold.

At BeBold, we are all storytellers. Whether that’s sharing our experience at AECOM, our career progressions, or identifying and addressing injustice. Last year, we launched BeTold, our interactive newsletter, to tell these stories.

In BeTold, you’ll read about BeBold’s latest initiatives, profiles of our wonderful members, discussions around work and success, opportunities to make a difference, and even thoughts on culture and history.

Highlights from BeTold include an in-depth outline of AECOM’s wellness benefits for Black employees, a discussion between our Design Principal Pierre Roberson and Urban Planner Mo Bradford on strengthening the pipeline of Black talent, reflections on Juneteenth, and much more.

Painting history

AECOM continuously strives to honor and uplift the communities in which it operates—and our offices are no exception. Located along Detroit’s QLine (which our teams helped deliver), our 4219 Woodward Avenue office pays homage to Motown, thanks to our collaboration with local artist designer, artist, educator, Torri Smith.

Smith’s first mural, “Resilient City,” seeks to embody and express the energy and movement of Detroit. It features several of Detroit’s most iconic spaces, including the legacy and revitalization of Michigan Central Station, the emphasis on Detroit’s musical roots as shown through the Motown Museum, and the continued environmental care expressed through the Belle Isle Conservatory.

“Vibrant City,” Smith’s second mural, seeks to uplift local legends of different scales, specifically artists and social justice activists. These advocates range from Motown legends such as the Supremes, who moved people through music, to local changemakers such as Allen Dennard, creating movement through musical-based protest activism.

We’re proud to have Smith’s work on display. It’s a reminder of our mission to deliver a better world and what that success can look like in the communities we serve.

Get engaged

As you can see, we love to walk a collective experience together as one BeBOLD Family, whether we’re supporting one another’s career progressions or simply exploring our passion for unity and inclusivity. We invite you to follow along with us on the AECOM blog and AECOM Voices this month, as we celebrate Black history, the progress made, and the possibilities to come.

Want to learn more about equity, diversity and inclusion at AECOM? Discover how our people are creating a company where everyone can THRIVE.

Originally published Feb 20, 2023

Author: Donald Seward Jr.