Industry Leaders Roundtable: National event series showcasing research on the ‘gender dividend’, encouraging institutional change

Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation Industry Leaders Select Topics

Embracing Diversity: Beyond M/WBE Targets

This is a package of dynamic events limited to a group of 20 invited participants. 

Three events, starting at 12:30pm EST on

December 9, 2020

January 19, 2021

February 16, 2021

Connect with senior level professionals in small group interactive discussions with decision makers, community leaders, clients and peers to tackle the tough and timely questions at hand: how to build, maintain and leverage meaningfully diverse project teams.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

12.30pm EST

Title: “Reaching The Finish Line Through Successful Collaborations” 


Erleen Hatfield; Darien M. Sykes

Erleen Hatfield, PE AIA, Managing Partner at Hatfield Group

Darien M. Sykes, PE, President of Sykes Consulting, Inc.

Erleen Hatfield, PE AIA, Managing Partner at Hatfield Group, and Darien M. Sykes, PE, President of Sykes Consulting, Inc., discuss their successful collaboration on major sports projects. They will present strategies for going beyond minority and women owned business procurement requirements to the realization of full community involvement and commitment.

Tuesday January 19, 2021

12.30pm EST

Title: “Constructing Transformational Projects through Inclusive and Diverse Teams”


Ommeed Sathe; Joy Bailey-Bryant

Ommeed Sathe, Vice President and Head of Impact and Responsible Investing

Joy Bailey-Bryant, Vice President and Managing Director of Lord Cultural Services

Joy Bailey-Bryant, Vice President and Managing Director of Lord Cultural Services, and Ommeed Sathe, Vice President and Head of Impact and Responsible Investing at Prudential Financial, will share insights into maximizing inclusion and creating lasting positive investments in projects and teams. 

Tuesday February 16, 2021

12.30pm EST

Title: “Getting Down to Business: The Complex Development of Manhattanville”


LaVerna Fountain; Nicole Holland-Denis; Sylvia Smith

Nicole Hollant-Denis, AIA, NOMA, Principal, Aaris Design Studios

La-Verna Fountain, Lecturer; President and Founder, Meaningful Communications Matters

Sylvia Smith, FAIA, Senior Partner, FXCollaborative Architects

Additional speakers TBA

Sylvia Smith, Senior Partner, FXCollaborative Architects, Nicole Hollant-Denis, Principal, Aaris Design Studios and La-Verna Fountain, Lecturer; President and Founder, Meaningful Communications Matters will discuss the challenges and successes in community engagement in sensitive sites with diverse teams.

The purpose of these conversations is to expand the understanding of opportunities for diverse team building even in projects where it is not required.

Who should attend: Principal-level participants in architecture, engineering, construction, real estate development, and law.

Please email for further details.

Goals of the Industry Leaders Roundtable

The program focuses on business planning concepts and initiatives that can both move high potential women in the building industry into key decision-making roles and change the gender culture of the firm. Fully integrating women into the workplace can yield a significant return – one that Deloitte Services, LLP calls the “gender dividend.” The gender dividend is a steady benefit that is earned by making wise, balanced investments in developing women as potential leaders as well as understanding women as clients and their impact on the bottom line. According to Deloitte, done right, this should be reflected in increased contracts, expanded markets, and improved recruitment and retention of key talent.

Achieving the Goals

During the annual two-day retreat, the BWAF presents cutting edge research by nationally prominent speakers whose work makes the business case for women and pinpoints specific, effective initiatives for firms. Participants, representing their firm, identify best practices for their organizations that will retain and advance women leaders. Ideas for metrics are suggested for ongoing progress assessment. A professional facilitator leads the annual retreat.

Firm Participation

Roundtable participation is limited to 40 firms drawn from engineering, architecture, planning, landscape and construction services. The Industry Leaders Roundtable participants are principals or partners and human resource executives of the nation’s largest architecture, engineering and construction firms, together representing over 100,000 employees, including an estimated 15,000-20,000 women. Past participants include AECOM, SOM, Perkins+Will, ARUP, HOK, Thornton Tomasetti, Buro Happold, The S/L/A/M Collaborative, WSP Flack + Kurtz, among others.

Women Are Increasingly Clients For Major Projects

While survey figures are not available in Design and Engineering, what we do know is that women architects and engineers are increasingly key to selecting AEC firms for major projects. Consider the following organizations: Forest City Ratner, Related Companies, Cornell Tech, Port Authority Airports, School Construction Authority, and US government agencies such as the Architect of the Capitol—these companies represent billions of dollars in construction. Deloitte Services surveyed the respective principals and found that 91% of the firm’s professional staff sold to women prospective clients. Women clients want to see senior women actively involved in their projects.

Clients, such as Rolando Rivas-Camp, Deputy Chief Architect of GSA, Cathy Dove, VP, Cornell Tech and Anna Franz, FAIA, Director, Planning and Project Management for the Architect of the US Capitol, attended and discussed their organizations and their projects in past Roundtables.

Why Join The BWAF Industry Leader’s Roundtable Program

BWAF is the only industry research group actively seeking potential ways to address and help AEC firms’ human resources manage their human capital needs while increasing the firm’s effectiveness and profitability. During the program meetings, participants also exchanges ideas of how that research fits into their own corporate culture and what modifications, if any, would be necessary to make it useful for their firm. The knowledge gained is invaluable.

Benefits To The Firm

Management in the era of global transformation must be innovative. The 20th-century approach is obsolete. Deloitte recommends a management approach called, Mass Career Customization (MCC), a phased framework for growth. In this “lattice” instead of “ladder” construct for career management, employer and employee must work together to design individual career paths that accommodate an individual’s changing life needs, goals, and desires. One of Deloitte’s most significant findings is that to succeed, such programs must be designed for all employees, not for women only.

Women have a proven value, but do 20th-century stereotypical concepts and false assumptions cause management to overlook ways to use female talent?

Research studies show:

  1. 1.  “Companies with more women in their executive committees have better financial performance.” Source: Desvaux, G. Devillard, S., and Sancier-Sultan, McKinsey & Company – “Women at the top of corporations: Making it happen, 2010.”
  2. 2.  Research from the London School of Economics shows that innovation occurs when there is a near equal team of men and women.

What Participants Say About The Program

Anna Franz, AIA, Director, Planning & Project Management, Architect of the Capitol

It was the most appreciated, wonderful and memorable event that I have ever attended.

Joan Blumenfeld, FAIA, Senior Vice President, Perkins &Will

The presentation by Anne Weisberg about what Deloitte had done/is doing was both fascinating, practical and useful. It helped me go back to my office and articulate possible scenarios for change.

Peter DiMaggio, Co-CEO, Thornton Tomasetti

This (Industry Leaders Roundtable) was an extremely valuable event.  The networking opportunities were outstanding and the quality of the speakers was excellent.  I felt that I had an opportunity to test my own opinions out with a well-educated audience and get some very constructive feedback on these ideas.  I was also exposed to a wide range of new ideas, which we will now discuss in-house to see how we might incorporate some of these into our own initiatives.  I definitely left the retreat with more than I had hoped for.

2016 Industry Leaders Roundtable Retreat

Date and Location: October 18-19, 2016 at The Presidio, San Francisco, California

Read more about past Roundtable Meetings.

2017 Industry Leaders Roundtable Retreat

Date & Location: October 23 – 24, 2017 at the Chicago Architecture Biennial, IL

2018 Industry Leaders Roundtable – Miami

Date & Location: December 3 – 4, 2018 at Perkins&Will, Miami, FL

2019 Industry Leaders Roundtable Retreat

Date & Location: December 2-3, 2019 at SOM, Los Angeles, CA