Article

Culturally Sensitive: The Way to Work

November 27, 2018

As a company, Mortenson believes the key to innovation lies in bringing together a diverse group of individuals who each carry a different perspective. Since we established our office in Phoenix in 2000, we have practiced the same core belief by facilitating continuous efforts to increase inclusion and diversity. We understand Arizona is home to people of many different backgrounds and cultures – all with different perspectives – and it is our priority to continue to better understand and partner with the communities in which we live and work.

Mortenson estimator, and Native American (Navajo and Hopi), Cherilyn McCabe, recently initiated, organized and participated in a panel at Arizona State University’s (ASU) Construction in Indian Country (CIIC) conference.

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Participants flash their ASU pitchforks at the 2018 conference

The purpose of the panel was to illustrate some of the best ways we have learned to partner with Native American tribes in the surrounding area. Cherilyn’s focus was to discuss strengthening cultural sensitivity in the industry.

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The ASU CIIC panel is the culmination of the university and its partners’ most recent efforts to support local Native American tribes. Dr. Michael Crow, the president of ASU, recently called attention to the support received from the industry at an Arizona Tribal Leaders meeting. As a result, Marcus Denetdale, the program manager for ASU’s CIIC organization, personally contacted Cherilyn, inviting her to attend the event.

Mortenson is proud to have been involved in this year’s conference. Keeping cultural sensitivity at the forefront of our minds, on all of our jobs, we understand there are a number of ways in which we, as a contractor, can listen to and respect the neighboring communities on our projects. The following efforts, made by Mortenson, are opportunities we believe every company in our industry can take advantage of.

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2018 SRP-MIC Cultural Sensitivity Training

At our Great Wolf Lodge Arizona project, team members attended a Cultural Sensitivity training to learn about SRP-MIC’s unique cultural heritage, as well as how to identify situations that threaten cultural resources for tribes.

On projects such as Great Wolf Lodge Arizona, we plan additional days into the schedule, as well as the budget, to account for these types of situations, ensuring that any complications on the jobsite are resolved in a manner that is most respectful to the indigenous people of the area. 

We also seek opportunities to partner with minority and disadvantaged business enterprises. At Salt River Project’s Project Administration Building, Mortenson was the first contractor to receive Salt River Project’s Luminary Award.

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The Mortenson project team accepts the Luminary Award from Salt River Project

This award recognized the diligent efforts of our team to ensure small, local, and minority businesses are included on the project. Similar to this project, many times we mentor smaller businesses to better support and grow the resources in the local construction industry. This project also received the General Contractor of the Year Award from the Associated Minority Contractors of America in 2016.

Maintaining an educated understanding and willingness to work with the cultural backgrounds of others ensures that everyone involved on a project is heard, respected, and able to perform at the peak of their ability. The resulting project team is harmonious and motivated, rendering a successful project delivery.

Looking to the future, we are excited to announce we have hired the previous vice president of the ASU CIIC organization, Kindell Davis, who will provide us with additional and distinct perspectives in tribal relations and cultural sensitivity. We will continue to pursue avenues in which we can build trust and strengthen our relationships with local tribes, as well as opportunities to partner with minority-owned, women-owned, and disadvantaged business enterprises. We encourage our counterparts to do the same.

If your organization is looking to gain a more well-developed understanding of how to adopt a culturally sensitive approach to delivering work, or you are interested in engaging with Mortenson on future work in this sector, please contact Cherilyn McCabe.