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Kimley-Horn “Lift” Program Recruits, Develops, and Retains Women


In 1967, in a small apartment in Raleigh, NC, three engineers gathered to build a new consulting firm. A firm whose direction would be determined by the passions and inspirations of its employees. A firm that would embrace growth, collaboration, adaptation, and reinvention.

Half a century later, this founding spirit and relentless ambition remain.

That firm—one of WTS International's newest corporate partners, Kimley-Horn—is now an employee-owned, premier planning and design consulting firm with more than 2,500 employees in 80 offices across the United States.

Kimley-Horn provides a wide range of consulting services to both public and private clients, offering solutions and an exceptional level of service in the areas of transportation, land development, landscape architecture + planning, integrated water, environmental, energy, parking, and technology.

To guide its success, Kimley-Horn keeps two groups of people at the center of its business: its clients and its staff.

Clients know the firm for the creativity of its solutions and the sense of urgency they bring to each and every project. They plan and design to accomplish their goals in the most effective manner.

Employees know Kimley-Horn for its commitment to its core purpose, which is "to provide an environment for our people to flourish." People are fulfilled, motivated, and challenged in different ways. In order to foster individual aspirations, the firm supports its people as they grow into larger roles and take on responsibilities that are important to them. Growing professionally, having fun with colleagues, and finding satisfaction in work are central to the way of life at Kimley-Horn. This culture has been recognized externally as well—2015 marked its eighth appearance on Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For.”

Yet, the firm is always striving to improve.

In a historically male industry, Kimley-Horn, like other firms, has faced challenges as it builds a gender-diverse workforce. Several years ago, its Diversity Committee recommended the creation of a Women’s Leadership Group—a rotating group of senior women to act as diversity “boots on the ground.” This advisory group provides mentorship and support, sponsoring women’s groups in local offices that hold forums on topics that have included Mentorship and Your Career, Communicating in the Workplace, Giving and Getting Feedback, and more.

This group has been an integral part of creating a diverse culture, but the dynamics of the business world continue to change. Today, an increasing number of top engineering graduates are women, and an increasing number of Kimley-Horn’s clients are women. For Kimley-Horn to grow in the face of these exciting changes, it needs to increase the number of senior women in significant practice roles.

To reach this goal, the firm launched its Lift (Lasting Impact for Tomorrow) initiative at the beginning of 2015. Lift aims to recruit, develop, and retain women at Kimley-Horn, increasing the number of successful women consultants, and helping its women reach their full potential. Under the LIFT initiative, Kimley-Horn has introduced career development training for mid-level and senior women, added topics on gender communications differences to its introductory training classes, presented a host of support tools for mothers and families, and provided clear support for schedule flexibility. Its internal LIFT website promotes many resources to help women build their careers—including a link to the WTS website.

Kimley-Horn is proud of the progress it has made so far with Lift and has received positive feedback from both male and female employees. But the firm recognizes that much remains to be accomplished. As the industry continues to shift, Kimley-Horn looks forward to growing along with it. Working together with industry partners and organizations like WTS, Kimley-Horn knows the future is bright for its employees, clients, and the entire transportation community.



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