What is AEC Unites?
AEC Unites is an association of business leaders, companies and organizations devoted to diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the architecture, engineering and construction industries. AEC Unites facilitates intentional opportunities for Black talent and Black-owned businesses in the AEC industry.
Why is AEC Unites so important in the AEC industry?
The architecture, engineering and construction industry in the United States employs 13 million people, or 9% of all Americans who work. AEC’s racial minority workforce is nearly half as large as the overall racial makeup of the working population would predict. Women in construction represent only one-fifth of the numbers seen in the women’s workforce. To provide robust solutions to current and future construction needs, the AEC industry needs to recruit more diverse people into its ranks.
To provide opportunities for Black talent to rise and lead the industry forward, the architecture, engineering and construction industry must support Black-owned businesses that employ workers in the Black community.
What impact can the AEC industry have on AEC Unites?
The AEC industry’s contracting practices can have a transformational role in leveling the playing field for minority and women-owned business enterprises. By hiring minority talent and rewarding their success with increasingly more responsible roles, the AEC industry can build successful companies and contribute to the family wealth and economic vitality of minority communities.
Given the numbers on Black employment, earnings and net worth, changing the status quo will take a concerted effort from all industry stakeholders. Today the median annual wage for Black workers is 30% lower than that of White workers, which amounts to a $220 billion annual disparity between Black wagers today and what they would be in a scenario of full parity, McKinsey research showed.
Overall, White workers make 570% more income than Black workers in the U.S. and have the nation’s lowest median net worth at $24,100. Not only do Black workers disproportionately work in low-wage job categories and endure a 2-1 unemployment disparity to White workers, they also make less money on average than similar White workers, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
Who are the members of AEC Unites?
AEC Unites is a membership organization. The organization is growing to attract a broad range of pace-setting leaders and companies who can accelerate change in the AEC industry.
What is the mission and purpose of AEC Unites?
AEC Unites’ mission is to facilitate intentional opportunities for Black talent and Black-owned businesses in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry.
- Inspire, promote, and ensure equity and inclusion in the AEC industry.
- Unite the AEC industry in a commitment to unlock the power of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the Black community.
- Build Black-owned business capacity through intentional procurement strategies, partnering, mentoring, and training.
- Attract, build, and advance Black talent within the AEC industry.
What is the vision of AEC Unites?
To elevate the architecture, engineering, and construction industry by driving equity and inclusion for Black talent and Black-owned businesses.
How can I lean in and support AEC Unites?
We encourage organizations to join AEC Unites by becoming a member. By joining AEC Unites, your company actively supports and engages in initiatives that foster inclusivity and empower Black talent and Black-owned businesses.
After becoming a member, join the Business or Talent Committee. Committee volunteers actively contribute to the organization’s goals, fostering a sense of camaraderie and collaboration among members. Participating in a committee allows individuals to leverage their unique skills and perspectives to drive initiatives and shape the association’s direction.
What are AEC Unites’ focus areas?
The association will strive to serve as the premier resource for Black talent to identify pathways to leadership and career opportunities and work to create sustainable opportunities. AEC Unites will also support Black-owned businesses in advancing their growth and business capacity. These efforts are led by AEC Unites Board of Directors and the Talent and Business Committees. Specific objectives are outlined in the Strategic Plan.
What are some of your current efforts related to diversifying the talent pipeline?
AEC Unites Talent Committee has prioritized strategies to develop partnerships with HBCUs, other colleges and universities, and organizations with STEM and ACE Programs. We acknowledge the abundance of STEM and ACE programs already in existence, and we have no intention of duplicating efforts. Instead, our goal is to collaborate with and unite these organizations, fostering a cohesive pathway for individuals aspiring to pursue a career in the architecture, engineering, and construction field.
What are some of your current efforts related to empowering Black-owned businesses?
AEC Unites Business Committee has prioritized strategies to produce a playbook for clients on procuring sustainable opportunities to work with Black-owned businesses and connecting Black-owned businesses to resources to advance economic opportunities. The Committee is developing a survey to identify Black- owned businesses’ challenges and barriers in the marketplace. This survey will establish a critical baseline, providing essential insights into the challenges and opportunities black-owned businesses face.
How can I initiate a partnership with AEC Unites?
Who are the leaders of AEC Unites?
The founding members of AEC Unites serve as the governing board of directors, setting its goals and overseeing its activities. They represent Clark Construction, Gensler, Hensel Phelps, H.J. Russell, HOK, Jacobs, McKissack & McKissack, Moody Nolan, Powers & Sons Construction, Stantec, Turner Construction and WSP.
Who can be a member of AEC Unites?
AEC Unites is open to organizations committed to advancing inclusion and racial equity of Black talent and Black-owned businesses. Members are required to take a pledge and commit to concrete actions to build a more inclusive and just industry for the Black community.
Is AEC Unites a charity or lobbying organization?
AEC Unites is organized as a trade association under Section 501(c)6 of the Internal Revenue Code. A portion of AEC Unites membership dues may be deductible as a business expense but does not qualify as a charitable donation. AEC Unites may engage in lobbying efforts related to the organization’s mission.
How can I (or my company) join AEC Unites?
Membership applications can be submitted online at by filling out the membership form online. Please note that AEC Unites membership is held by a company, not an individual.
Where can I go for more information about AEC Unites membership?
The AEC Unites website has information on its member pledge and goals. It also has information on how to connect by phone, email and social.
Is AEC Unites affiliated with Construction Inclusion Week?
While there is some overlap in the leadership of Construction Inclusion Week and AEC Unites, the two organizations have noted distinctions. AEC Unites has a mission to provide intentional opportunities for Black talent and Black-owned businesses in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry.
Construction Inclusion Week organizes awareness efforts to foster a more inclusive construction industry, create collective safe spaces for difficult conversations and provide educational insights through curated resources tailored for project sites, offices, teams and industry partners.
Why does AEC Unites believe the AEC industry needs to prioritize representation?
Historically, Blacks have been severely underrepresented in AEC, which now employs over 13 million workers—9% of the U.S. workforce. In 2022, Black workers held only 7% of all AEC jobs even though they represented 13% of all workers. By contrast, White workers comprise 77% of the workforce yet hold 87% of all construction jobs and 83% of all architecture and engineering jobs.
Industry diversity efforts are good business practice. AEC Unites recognizes that diversity brings a range of perspectives and experiences that contribute to a more vibrant and dynamic work environment. Many companies have already come to recognize that a diverse workforce brings a range of perspectives and experiences that can lead to increased innovation, better problem-solving and a broader customer base. AEC Unites aims to create a culture of inclusion and equal opportunity, a cultural change that will benefit everyone in the workplace.