ITE Journal - February 2020 - 39

ƒ The Power of the Dollar - When making a purchase for the
office-lunch for a group or office supplies, for example-
companies can make it a point to buy from local businesses
owned by members of marginalized groups. This can feel like
a small gesture, but it brings equity work into the day-to-day
routine, which can have a big impact.

Toole Design Group

Having faces that look different from one another isn't enough.
It's one thing to have a seat at the table, but another to have
decision-making power. True inclusion is when the people who
make an organization more diverse fully participate in and lead the
decision-making process.
Making equity part of your organization's culture. To help
the world be more equitable, we need to ensure that our companies,
agencies, and organizations make equity part of the foundation of
everything we do. We have to examine, question, and change our
habits and power structures from the inside.
This task might be daunting, but it is both necessary and
possible. Below are a handful of internal steps any organization
can take to become more equitable:
ƒ Leadership/Initiatives/Task Forces - Create equity-focused
task forces and initiatives to take a deeper look at who enjoys the
most access to opportunity-and who gets the least. These task
forces cannot be token groups. They must be fully resourced
and supported and have decision-making access and authority.
Individuals serving or working in this capacity should not be
viewed as volunteers or doing "extra" work. Rather, their time
and value should be compensated.
ƒ Trainings - It's totally reasonable to have questions on this
subject-after all, we don't know what we don't know. We can,
however, be proactive about building knowledge by providing
trainings on equity. Just like a new technology or accounting
system, equity work can take a company to new heights, but
it requires investment. Targeted learning sessions on these
matters, especially when run by trained professionals, can
shed light and bring a level of understanding that is otherwise
difficult to achieve.
ƒ Hiring and Retention - Companies can interview and hire
from a more diverse pool of candidates. As mentioned above,
equity efforts can't stop at striving for a diverse workforce, but
diversity is a key component of creating equity. A company
cannot become more diverse unless it interviews, hires, and
retains a diverse group of candidates.
Doing this effectively requires a simple but powerful shift in
mindset: we need to go from thinking that finding and hiring
diverse candidates takes too much time or is too hard, to simply
seeing it as part of the standard process.
Diversifying our offices is only the first step. Beyond being
hired, people need to work in a supportive and inclusive
environment where they can show up as their full, authentic
selves. If a black woman doesn't feel comfortable wearing her
hair the way she wants to,1 or a Muslim person doesn't have a
place to pray throughout the day, or employees are subject to
a culture that does not welcome LBGTQ employees and their
families, we might have diversified, but we haven't created an
environment that welcomes a diverse range of employees.

Who will this project benefit, and who might it harm? What kinds of
assumptions are we making about intended users? As engineers, we
should be asking these types of questions about the work in front of us.

Tips for Creating Equity in the World at Large
The task of getting things right on the inside will always be ongoing,
but this should not keep us from working with clients and business
partners to achieve equity in the world at large. Below are a few
steps that transportation professionals can take to use their work to
promote equity:
ƒ Know your history and understand the existing conditions -
Practitioners must educate themselves about the historical
inequities perpetuated by past transportation and land-use
decisions in specific neighborhoods and communities and
how, in turn, the built environment has blocked marginalized
people's access to opportunity. This means knowing and
accounting for history and reviewing existing plans and policies
with an eye on who they have and have not helped.2
When analyzing existing conditions, we can use data on
a number of equity-related factors-communities that are
majority people of color, low-income populations, and concentrations of people with disabilities, for example-to analyze how
existing systems serve or fail to serve marginalized groups.
ƒ Consider the world you're designing - Engineers should think
about the implications of their design decisions, no matter how
small. Start by questioning the underlying assumptions behind a
project and the reality it will help build. Consider who called for
w w w .i t e.or g

Fe b ruar y 2020

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https://www.npr.org/2017/05/03/526655831/a-forgotten-history-of-how-the-u-s-government-segregated-america https://www.npr.org/2017/05/03/526655831/a-forgotten-history-of-how-the-u-s-government-segregated-america https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/cchr/downloads/pdf/Hair-Guidance.pdf https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/cchr/downloads/pdf/Hair-Guidance.pdf http://www.ite.org

ITE Journal - February 2020

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