Arch Nexus is a multi-disciplinary design firm with a practice reaching throughout the western United States. Our core values of Inspiration, Stewardship, and Regeneration drive us toward thoughtful, integrated solutions for our clients. We are an employee-owned organization that seeks to make social equity a more visible part of the sustainability spectrum.
How have the employees responded to the JUST Program and the willingness of the firm to demonstrate transparency on these sensitive issues? Has this process and journey helped elevate employee engagement levels?
Our employees have responded very positively to the JUST Program. As a design firm, it is the nature of our work that we have a large number of young professionals in the organization. This cohort prefer to work for purpose driven firms and want to work for a company that is focused on people and organizational culture. We like to say that we are People-Driven. The JUST Program has been a part of the transformation that has led to increased employee engagement within our firm.
As part of our employee engagement efforts, we conduct annually a comprehensive employee survey program. In the survey, our employees have an opportunity to highlight and proclaim areas of success for the company. For 2017, there were an overwhelming number of respondents approving of our ongoing transparency initiatives and very supportive of our JUST endeavors.
What do you think are the most valuable benefits to any organization pursuing the JUST Label?
Our turnover rate has plummeted since participating in the JUST Program and while JUST is not the only factor influencing that result, it certainly is a meaningful contributor. The last echoes of the Great Recession are still being felt in the AEC industry and there is a serious talent shortage. Talent recruitment and retention are two of the greatest challenges we face on a day-to-day basis as a business.
The authenticity offered by the JUST Program is helping the firm offer the kind of workplace that keeps employees committed for the long haul. The JUST roadmap to equity reminds us of areas needing improvement and allows us to celebrate our successes. We are making progress with our goal of being a more gender diverse firm.
Leveraging the Label
In what ways are you leveraging the JUST Label? Are you using JUST in your sustainability reporting, blog articles, social media or corporate communications?
JUST has been primarily leveraged as an internal management tool to drive operational change at Arch Nexus. However, we have found that being a JUST labelled firm has been beneficial in attracting top talent to apply for our open positions. Upon completion of our first renewal cycle, the firm will begin to explore how to leverage the beneficial impacts of organizational transparency in a variety of marketing communications channels.
Advice for Prospects
What advice would you give prospective JUST organizations?
Waiting to start the JUST disclosure process is a huge mistake – the process of evaluating your organization will reveal much to senior leadership. Once organizations are aware of some of the existing gaps and deficiencies, they can take action to make life better for their employees.
What are some of the most important lessons learned about your organization as a result of the JUST application process?
Arch Nexus is guided by a large, diverse partnership. The most important lesson that was learned through the process was that we had more in common than originally thought. Simply put, it is hard to argue against the concept of improving social equity in the work place and the issues confronted through JUST process are not as charged as one would think.
Changes in Policy
Can you describe some of the most consequential changes to organizational policies and practices as a result of JUST?
At the individual level, paying a Living Wage to Arch Nexus’ entry level non-professional staff positions has been very consequential. Home ownership, financial security and personal stability were out of reach for some and now are possible for all who work at our firm.
What Worked Well
Are there specific policy changes that have been particularly well received? Please describe.
At the firm level, we crafted a Philanthropy Program using indicators from the JUST Program. Before the adoption of the JUST Program, Arch Nexus did not have a formal policy or procedure for dealing with charitable giving and volunteering. Now we have a comprehensive strategy that is leveraged to build a common sense of purpose within the organization.
Please describe how the firm intends to use JUST as a management tool and framework moving forward.
JUST provides Arch Nexus a means to measure the way we run our business and live out our values. The JUST Program is viewed as a helpful management tool in our organization. Before JUST, we felt like we were doing well across a wide range of social equity indicators. Now we know it and more importantly, our employees know it.