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Michael Baker International: Building a More Diverse Workforce to Strengthen Creativity, Innovation and Diversity of Experience


Michael Baker International, a global leader in engineering, planning and consulting, has been partnering with communities since 1940 to solve their most complex infrastructure challenges with a legacy of expertise, diverse experience, innovation and integrity.

Supported by more than 6,000 employees in 90 offices worldwide, Michael Baker provides a full continuum of engineering, planning, consulting, specialized global construction, base operation support, security management, systems integration and intelligence solutions.

That legacy forms the foundation on which Michael Baker continues to grow. The company provides visionary leadership in managing change for its clients. It facilitates life-cycle transformations with differentiating innovations, global collaboration, and dedicated, engaged employees who share an impassioned entrepreneurial spirit and a diversity of experience.

As the company has learned over the years, though, diversity of experience doesn’t just happen. It starts with a commitment to deliberately building, developing and retaining a professional workforce that reflects a balance of gender, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, military veteran status, and those with disabilities.

Michael Baker today lives by the tenet that a broad professional workforce across the enterprise brings with it a wide spectrum of experience that creates the kind of creative energy and innovation crucial to solving complex infrastructure problems. Its leadership believes that this contributes vitally to the company’s ability to deliver its full continuum of innovative solutions, which ultimately improve the quality of life for the communities it serves.

“Research and experience support our belief that diverse teams and organizations do better,” says Joe Bongiovi, executive vice president and chief human resources officer of Michael Baker. “Our clients are diverse. Our communities are diverse. We need to be representative. How do we make sure we’re accessing the broadest possible talent pool and continually building our team?”

For Michael Baker, Bongiovi says, it has been a work in progress.

“We start with a compelling business imperative to attract the top industry performers across the disciplines and retain them in our firm,” Bongiovi explains. “This is a great place to work, but we’ve got to always strive to enhance our capabilities, and we have to show a clear path for advancement for all of our top-performing employees if we want to retain them – and foster true diversity.”

That’s where team members like Susan Harden, a senior vice president at Michael Baker, and a group of women professionals from across the company, have begun to play a prominent role in the company’s future.

“As a woman who has spent 17 years in the engineering world, I’ve seen limited advancement of women in this profession,” says Harden, who serves as practice lead for Michael Baker’s planning practice. “It’s really all about the work climate – the environment we’re in.”

Harden and the team of women leaders at Michael Baker just initiated a women’s leadership network at the company, coupled with a strategy that provides the following: showcases “good role models” in leadership positions; connects younger, less experienced women professionals with mentors; and works with management to strengthen hiring and promotion practices, as well as opportunities, for women at Michael Baker.

“I think this initiative will open even more doors for women at Michael Baker, providing greater opportunities for training, advancement and long-term career paths within the company,” Harden says. “It also will spur even greater creativity and innovation.”

The group also has set its sights on developing what Harden describes as a “women’s leadership summit” for employees, as well as locally based chapters of the national Women’s Leadership Network to promote and foster greater diversity.

“Women at Michael Baker are self-identifying to say they want to make a difference in building this network and strengthening our talent,” Bongiovi says of the women’s initiative. “There now are lots of people working together to move this forward.”

In the end, Bongiovi says, Michael Baker will continue to leverage this commitment, adding breadth and depth to its expertise and experience to help transform the communities, states, foreign countries, and client companies it serves.

Still, the company’s ultimate goal remains the same as it always has been when it comes to the futures of its communities: It strives to make them safer, more accessible, more environmentally sustainable and more livable. Its credo: “We Make a Difference.”




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