Dave Dargie is recognized as a champion for inclusion here at Stantec by using his leadership role to help employees achieve their career goals
We need to foster a workplace where biases—both conscious and unconscious—are recognized and managed. How do we lessen the impact of biases? With leaders who are open and willing to help build an inclusive and diverse work environment. Dave Dargie, vice president and sector leader in Airport Infrastructure, is a true champion for inclusion here at Stantec. Dave has worked all over North America during his time here, having worked in both large commercial airports and small general aviation facilities. After more than 30 years of working in the industry, Dave has proven to be an essential component to Stantec’s aviation group.
With Dave’s position at Stantec, he has resources, autonomy, and the trust of the company. That means he can choose where and when to spend those resources. Leslie Merrithew, a civil engineer in the Ottawa, Ontario, office has noticed that Dave puts a lot of his resources towards inclusion.
“Dave really inspires young women through facilitating connections and opening up doors for career development,” Leslie said. “He does it without recognition, and it’s incredibly impactful. He’s a great action person.”
Dave helped Katie Couture, a civil designer in the Boston office, retain her position here at Stantec after her successful internship. “Dave said he knew someone that I could relate to and that we share a lot of the same passions,” Katie said. “He connected me with Leslie so she and I could chat about my interest in traveling and seeing more of the global clientele.” Their connection has resulted in Leslie being somewhat of a mentor for Katie.
Laura Newton, a civil designer in the Anchorage, Alaska, office started her journey in Scarborough, Maine, as an intern with Stantec in 2014. Working in that office for a number of years, she had heard about Leslie’s ability to do projects far away and was interested in these opportunities. Laura talked to Dave about her goals. “He knew that I wanted to try working out of another office so if any job came up and he asked me to do it, I was going to say yes,” Laura said. “Dave told me the benefit of working with a big company like Stantec is that these opportunities do come up!”
When an amazing opportunity was posted for a position in Anchorage, Alaska, Laura took the job description to Dave and told him she wanted to apply for it. “He got the ball rolling by putting me in contact with the team. He coached me through the whole thing and was there to help me negotiate through everything,” Laura said. “He made the whole transition go very smoothly and it would have been harder for me without his support.”
Dave has always been a champion for inclusion, long before his days at Stantec. “Back when I was in school, I was always baffled by how few women there were in the engineering program,” Dave said. “Things have changed in 30 years, but there’s always been a perception that engineering is a male-dominated career field.” This perplexed Dave. Throughout his career, any time he talks to someone with great potential—male or female—he tries to promote, inspire, and help them succeed.
“There’s all this great talent out there, and we as a company and industry, as well as our clients, don’t get the full benefit of the capabilities of our people if we don’t support the growth of everybody in the organization," Dave said. “When I see passion, focus, and energy, it’s important to encourage that. For anyone in an advisory position to encourage that.” Dave considers himself lucky to have had these bright, energetic people who have a career plan who not only want to move up in the company but stay with the company. “I’ve enjoyed working with Katie, Laura, and Leslie. It gives me great pleasure to see them flourish and be excited about their career development. It’s that simple. Give people the opportunity to do well.”
Champions in leadership roles can create a more inclusive culture within the company. “It’s important to have a gender-balanced workplace,” Laura said. “I think women bring a different perspective to the table and can think about things differently. And I think Stantec as a whole does a pretty good job at creating equal opportunities.” By the time Laura left Maine to start her new job in Anchorage, three new women had been hired in her group. “It seemed like every position opening up in our office was being filled by a woman!” Laura said.
“I think Stantec is working towards being more inclusive, and I think Dave is facing this head on,” Katie said. “The way to improve this is with the help of our male colleagues. If we work together as a team, it can happen.”
We should always strive to be better, and there is always room for improvement when it comes to an inclusive workplace. “There is a shift in engineering from the earlier decades, and I think this shift is a good thing,” Dave said. “Engineering touches so many things in everything we do on a daily basis; I think the industry and individual companies are getting better, and we as a general population in a society benefit from supporting people who can do great things.”
To read more about how Stantec is becoming a more inclusive and diverse company, click here.