Lord Aeck Sargent
Lord Aeck Sargent is a full-service, award-winning architectural, urban design and planning firm with six offices. The firm has seven practice areas: Science & Technology, Education, Arts & Culture, Historic Preservation, Interior Design, Housing & Mixed-Use and Urban Design & Planning. The firm is dedicated to providing responsive design, technological expertise and exceptional service in order to provide clients with the best possible facilities and places that will serve them well into the future.
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?
The employee response has been favorable overall. We used the Worker Happiness survey to ask open-ended questions about likes, dislikes and received some very useful feedback and suggestions about firm culture. The process of obtaining an initial label certainly helped with employee engagement, but more importantly, the firm will leverage the bi-annual renewal process to further enhance engagement.
What do you think are the most valuable benefits to any organization pursuing the JUST Label?
The process requires a deliberate assessment of policies across many aspects of firm operations, including benefits, diversity, compensation, investing, employee development, and volunteering. The assessment process and quantification of performance prompts sometimes difficult but ultimately beneficial conversations about corporate culture.
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?
We have cited our JUST Label in our RFP responses. There is significant interest in the JUST Program within the sustainable design media as our label has been featured in two blog articles and three print articles.
Advice for Prospects
What advice would you give prospective JUST organizations?
Form a small, nimble task force to lead the JUST application effort, with representation from operations, human resources, sustainability and CSR practitioners, marketing and, importantly, executive leadership. Development of new policies, if necessary, will require buy-in from leadership.
What are some of the most important lessons learned about your organization as a result of the JUST application process?
The JUST application process helps organizations look at human resource policies, programs and practices in a comprehensive way that may not take place otherwise. We needed to look at each of twenty two indicators and to assess our performance. Our assessment fell into three categories: ‘We clearly need to do more here.’ ‘We are doing fine here.’ But in most instances, we fell in the middle of the spectrum.
Changes in Policy
Can you describe some of the most consequential changes to organizational policies and practices as a result of JUST?
The firm added a female principal to the compensation committee to help guide the execution of gender pay equity practices. The firm also formed a subcommittee of the sustainability forum to help develop recommendations for improvements to our JUST label during the renewal process.
What Worked Well
Are there specific policy changes that have been particularly well received? Please describe.
The firm treated our inaugural JUST label effort as largely a baseline exercise, creating a few new policies where necessary, but largely documenting where we are ‘today.’ We believe the greater benefit will come from assessment, recommendation and adoption of improvements necessary to improve our subsequent JUST Label renewal in 2019.
Please describe how the firm intends to use JUST as a management tool and framework moving forward.
The firm will leverage the JUST Label, as well as our Green Operations Plan, as frameworks for identifying areas for improvement and recommending adjustments for continued enhancements to our operational and human resources practices.