With an unwavering commitment to fostering an inclusive workplace, Parveen Tai is a dedicated champion of DEI initiatives. Her passion for creating a harmonious and equitable work environment extends beyond mere rhetoric. She exudes and ingrains these principles within the organizational culture and effectively translates them to benefit both our valued employees and clients.

Parveen’s leadership goes beyond conventional HR roles, embodying a visionary approach that recognizes the importance of diversity as a catalyst for innovation and success. Through her strategic guidance, the firm has witnessed a transformative shift toward a workplace that values and celebrates differences, fostering an atmosphere where every individual feels heard, valued, and empowered.

In Parveen’s capable hands, DEI efforts are not just policies on paper, but living, breathing principles that shape the fabric of Schmidt Associates. She navigates the complex terrain of human resources with a keen understanding of the pivotal role it plays in shaping organizational culture. Parveen’s leadership style is marked by empathy, fairness, and an unyielding commitment to promoting equal opportunities.

As we continue our journey toward a more inclusive and diverse workplace, we loved hearing from Parveen and witnessing her leadership as a reflection of one where every voice matters, and every individual is embraced for their unique contributions.

Can you define what DEI means to Schmidt Associates, and how it aligns with the firm’s vision and strategic pillars?
DEI at Schmidt Associates means creating and championing initiatives within the environment and space. That includes diversity in people and thought, and aligning it with our strategic plan means ensuring that inclusiveness and equal opportunity are available to all staff and clients.

What steps are you taking to ensure a diverse talent pool gets recruited?
We participate in job fairs with historically black colleges and universities and engage with minority organizations such as the National Organization of Minority Architects, the Society of Black Engineers, and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. We also are actively involved within the American Institute of Architects (AIA) subsets. We will always explore different avenues as a way of continually expanding our DEI efforts.

Can you describe some initiatives in place to foster an inclusive work environment?
In our handbook, we have a diversity statement, and training through Schmidt Academy and other programs is ongoing and open to all employees. We also annually participate in the Best Places to Work surveys in Indiana and Kentucky. There are entire sections dedicated to DEI, and our employees have an opportunity to answer anonymously. We will use that data to monitor and improve our ongoing efforts continually.

How are you measuring the success of our DEI efforts, and what metrics are we using?
While we are not a quota-driven organization, we do annually track numbers with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and we look at our year-over-year growth.

What challenges have you encountered in the firm’s DEI journey, and how have those challenges been addressed?
As an industry, one of the biggest challenges we are facing is that we are a space without a lot of minorities, but AIA has done a great job of encouraging women and minorities to pursue the profession. Another way we are reaching minority young people is through our job shadow days such as JobSpark with Junior Achievement of Central Indiana and Tour the City through Girl Scouts of Central Indiana, STEM YES, and others. So many of our efforts intersect, and we are proud to support these programs.

How are we ensuring consistent DEI practices across all regional offices that are in line with the “One Schmidt” objective?
We are very cognizant about sharing information and making the same opportunities available to every employee. We have regular staff meetings and use a system called KAL to share information internally to bring people together from our different offices. We also fully support our clients and the communities where we live and work through our commitments to servant leadership.

How does the firm’s commitment to servant leadership and community engagement intersect with our DEI objectives?
There is a crossroads in all our efforts because they are guiding what we do for our employees and our clients. One of Schmidt Associates’ greatest strengths is our ability to engage and lead within the communities we serve, and that speaks volumes.

Can you share a case study or example where our DEI efforts had a positive impact?
All our DEI efforts have a positive impact. We cannot affect change without communication, and we cannot create an awareness without dialogue. Therefore, we seek to create a space where we can discuss each studio’s positive impacts. It affects the community and clients.

What advice would you give to other firms who are looking to improve DEI practices?
Having a foundation and a willingness to have open dialogue is extremely important, and leadership must buy into DEI efforts with policies that align from the top down. Without either, DEI will not work effectively.

What are the next steps for Schmidt Associates in continuing to foster a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace?
We must build on our DEI efforts. It’s not a one-and-done option. You must keep building on DEI efforts daily to affect change.