An update on DOWL’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging - DOWL



An update on DOWL’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging

It’s been a year since DOWL officially and publicly began our quest down the sunlit path to racial justice, and this journey is just as important now as it has ever been. DOWL is dedicated to following through on our commitment—not just offering empty words—and we’re proud to say that we’re already making good on our promises.

We’re still early in the process, but we’re excited about where we’re headed. Here’s a look at the initiatives we’ve been working on for the past year, as well as a peek into where we’re headed in the future.


Our first efforts toward a more just and equitable society come from within, and at DOWL, we formalized a firm-wide Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) working group in August of last year. This group has directed sizable corporate donations aimed at racial and social justice causes, as well as a shortlist of charitable organizations that employees can donate to and receive a $1-for-$1 company match.

This includes two $25,000 donations to important regional organizations: Ecotrust and the Seattle Foundation. These two organizations are focused on philanthropy that is both equitable and inclusive, and we’re honored to support them. Across the company, DOWL gave almost 3.5 times the amount of money to charitable causes in 2020 compared to 2019, and much of that is aimed toward social and racial justice causes.

DOWL’s DEIB working group is the cornerstone of our efforts, and they’re just getting started; we can’t wait to see how this group continues to elevate us toward greatness in the future.

Employee Resource Groups

Growing out of the DEIB group are two new employee resource groups (ERGs), created by DOWL employees for DOWL employees and centered around creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace:

  • Parents & Caregivers ERG
    • We know that it can be difficult to juggle the competing roles of full-time employee and parent/caregiver, especially with the disproportionate weight of additional home-schooling responsibilities that are being borne by women across the country during the pandemic. DOWL is not different, so this group is a great way to share resources, provide community, and raise the visibility of the stressors we often silently carry.
  • LGBTQ+ & Community ERG
    • Pride month is just around the corner, and the timing couldn’t be better: Our brand-new LGBTQ+ ERG is making bold steps toward progress and inclusion for our queer team members. In addition to serving as a safe place and a source of community within DOWL, this group also aims to support the DEIB group’s goals by directing DOWL toward better inclusion, representation, and equality regarding sexuality, gender, and more.

These two groups are just one crucial step toward making sure that DOWL employees feel supported and connected within their offices and the company as a whole, and we have more ERGs planned for the near future.

Top-Down Leadership

Change needs to start at the top, and we’re making sure that DOWL leadership is equipped to lead in ways that align with our DEIB goals. To that end, we brought renowned speaker and University of Washington College of Built Environments Dean Renee Cheng to speak at our owners’ meeting in early 2021. Renee brings an incredible amount of insight into equitable practices, especially within the context of architecture, engineering, and construction firms.

Company-Wide Diversity Training

It doesn’t end with leadership, though; we’ve purchased and deployed a comprehensive diversity training module and encouraged everyone at DOWL to participate. In order to create change, we all need to speak the same language and be on the same page, and this training is a great introduction to the language, ideas, and concepts that will help get us there.

Of course, one training is not enough. Our DEIB group will continue to recommend additional resources to keep us thinking about these issues even after it’s no longer a buzzworthy news topic. We will work diligently to make sure we’re continuously reaching higher and doing better when it comes to assessing our own biases, stereotypes, and social conditioning that affect our staff at all levels of the company.

Where Do We Go From Here?

We’re just getting started. We want to change our world for the better, and while the journey toward equity will be long, difficult, and at times uncomfortable, we won’t be deterred.

We are working on updating and enhancing our existing company-wide hiring, recruiting, and retention tactics to make sure that we create opportunity and equity for people of color, minorities, veterans, and those with disabilities. This also includes subcontracting, where we recognize that there is always room for improvement related to directing work toward minority/veteran/disable- and women-owned business, regardless of the minimum requirements of our clients.

Share with us what your company is doing and any ideas you have for how to make our world a more equitable and inclusive place.