Spotlight: 2020 Rosa Parks Diversity Leadership Award Winner - Archaeological Consulting Services, Ltd.

ACS Staff Tempe Arizona

Each month we are featuring one of our 2020 WTS Metropolitan Phoenix Awards recipients. This month we are spotlighting the Rosa Parks Diversity Leadership Award recipient Archaeological Consulting Services, Ltd (ACS). The ACS Team provides environmental planning, cultural resource, and GIS services to a wide array of clients from the public, tribal, and private sectors, primarily in Arizona. We talked with ACS President Margerie Green about what diversity and inclusion means for the transportation industry and how ACS is setting an example for others to follow.

Tell us about your team and the kind of work you do.

Archaeological Consulting Services, Ltd. is a team of about 25 professionals who cooperate in providing environmental planning, cultural resource, and GIS services to a wide array of clients from the public, tribal, and private sectors, primarily in Arizona. More specifically, ACS’ capabilities include cultural resource literature reviews, surveys, monitoring, testing, and data recovery projects; historic preservation; paleoenvironmental studies; biological assessments and evaluations; floral and faunal inventories; threatened and endangered species surveys; biological research; NEPA-related documents including CEs and EAs; environmental permitting projects; Clean Water Act 401 and 404 permits; environmental site assessments and compliance assessments; hazardous materials and waste management; SWPPPs; Stormwater Annual Reports; health and safety program development and personnel training; and GIS and GPS applications. A significant portion of our work is related to transportation projects for multiple agencies across the state. 

What does diversity and inclusion mean to you? 

To me they mean not being purposefully excluded or overlooked in terms of career opportunities. When I was pursuing my education in Anthropology (specialty: Archaeology) in the 1970s, it was common to get advice such as ‘don’t waste your time applying to such and such university because they don’t let women lead (or even do) fieldwork; women are expected to work in the lab there.’ I received the outstanding graduating senior Anthropology award, yet my boyfriend was offered an assistantship in graduate school because it was assumed that I would get married and drop out of the profession. Once in business it took a number of years for certain clients and vendors to take me as seriously as my male business partner. Things have certainly come a long way since then, but these are the kinds of experiences that helped shape my outlook regarding giving everyone a fair shake and accepting or rejecting people for jobs based on their capabilities and not some category they might fall into. 

Why is it important to you to promote diversity on the ACS team as well as in the transportation industry?

My response is two-fold. As a student of Anthropology you learn that when diversity is limited it decreases the potential for a population to adapt to changed circumstances. Good ideas for problem solving can come from anywhere. The more diverse the group of people proposing the ideas and the more diverse their experiences, the wider the range of ideas you’re going to get. Seeking greater diversity of ideas is why graduate schools frequently will not hire their own graduates; simply put, it’s easier to stagnate in the absence of diversity. The second reason is that the stakeholders who utilize transportation industry products and services are diverse and have diverse needs that should be represented in decision-making. 

What advice would you have for other businesses, large or small, that are looking to make changes to become more inclusive in their recruitment and retention practices? 

Objectively assess whether you have let negative thoughts about diverse hiring hamper your efforts in the past; then take a look around your office and if all the employees (or all the managers) you see fall into one category (e.g., white men), then you know you need to do better. Put metaphorical blinders on when reviewing resumes, or if you can’t shake your old mindset, have someone else redact the name and other identifying criteria of each person applying before you read their resume. Focus on how well each person’s skills fit what you need, the ancillary skills and willingness to learn that they have that might become useful later, and whether their references say they are good team players. Also don’t let their attendance at a community college factor in; community colleges provide an excellent foundation in numerous disciplines, and many great employees start out on that path because of financial considerations that have absolutely nothing to do with their abilities.