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Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

The Power of You

By: Kori Shingles
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Manager

I have had the privilege of serving as JE Dunn’s DEI manager in the Minneapolis office for the last 2.5 years. Though I had worked in the DEI space previously, this is my first stint in the private sector and in the construction world. I’ve been enthralled by how buildings get built and have been involved in a couple of large projects on the client side, but to be on this side of it has been a treat.

I have learned a lot in my time here, including:

  • Construction has a lot of acronyms. (I finally understand 75% of them!)
  • It’s a complex business.
  • Weaving minority-, women-, and veteran-owned businesses into the fabric of that complex business is difficult.
  • Great things can happen when we think outside the box and try something a bit differently.

JE Dunn’s commitment to DEI is respected because we have positive intent that is genuine, top-down, and we are truly working to build it into the spirit of what we do. The key to this is collaboration and the power of you.

“Great things can happen when we think outside the box and try something a bit differently.”

Think of it like this: DEI managers are the coaches of their company teams. We supply connections, look for opportunities, and provide some guidance along the way. The real player who makes the program run is you. Without this ongoing partnership and being open to using a new business or someone new in the field, it doesn’t work.

DEI can also allow you to utilize certain Strong from the Center characteristics such as self-awareness, inclusiveness, strategy, and impact that can influence all levels of the model.

At JE Dunn, we have had some key DEI successes that can be attributed to the power of our teams.

Missy Scherber is the owner of T. Scherber, a demolition, excavating, and roll-offs company in Minneapolis. I met her through another local, large excavating company. I brought Missy in to have a “lunch and learn,” discussing her business with some of our key staff in February 2023. Six months later, Missy enthusiastically landed her first JE Dunn project. She said that it typically takes 1.5 to 2 years to land a first contract, and we did it in six months! If it were not for those connections with key people pertinent to Missy’s scope of work and from those within JE Dunn, we would not have been so successful. Just one year after our initial meeting, Missy is now on several JE Dunn projects in multiple facets.

The moral of this story? Taking the time to make connections and meet people from new MWVBEs (minority-, woman-, and/or veteran- owned business enterprises) is essential to our business and theirs. Lunch and learns and other events can seem minimal in our world, but to a small MWVBE, they can be the difference between making enough to support their payroll or taking their business to the next level. Missy is now vigorously competing against the larger players in town (much to their dismay) and telling everyone how great it is to work with JE Dunn. I can wholeheartedly attribute that to the power of you.

For more information from Kori about supplier diversity, see her thought leadership piece on