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PennDOT values the importance of diversity year-round

February 07, 2019 12:00 AM
By: None

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Black History Month is a time to recognize the contributions of African Americans to U.S. history. Here at PennDOT, we strive to nurture a diverse organization and workforce through innovative thinking, job-specific training, and fostering an inclusive environment that encourages, supports, and celebrates our similarities and differences.

We recognize the importance of having people with various backgrounds at the table, creating innovative solutions to address new transportation needs that truly help all communities. One way we accomplish this is through our training programs, where we have focused efforts to ensure diversity in our classes. Our Mentoring Program, as an example, allows for seasoned employees to share knowledge, coach, and guide participants in their professional growth. This focus on lower or entry-level positions in the organization helps develop staff in taking the next step in their careers. In its three years, the program has averaged classes with 20 percent minority and 48 percent female participants. Data shows that 41 promotions have occurred amongst the 89 graduates of the program.

In recent years, the department has placed an emphasis on diversity and inclusion, specifically, the growth, development, inclusion, and promotion of women and minorities in the workplace. PennDOT maintains a workforce of 11,300 employees comprised of 76 percent white males, 19 percent females and 10 percent minorities. These numbers move slowly, but the numbers are trending in the right direction as the department has its highest percentages of women and minorities in the last 10 years. Even more encouraging is that women and minorities are holding a greater percentage of higher level positions in the department than in previous years.

We're also reaching out to future generations to ensure that women and minorities understand the great potential of a career with PennDOT. Our School to Employment at PennDOT (STEP) Program is a paid year-long work program for high school seniors. Since its inception, STEP has been a successful pathway to either regular full-time employment or college internships. For the 2018-19 school year, 71 high school students have been hired with a quarter of them being minorities. PennDOT college internships also provide a pathway to students from varied backgrounds to garner paid work experience and exposure to the transportation field and its career possibilities.

Equally important as being a diverse organization is ensuring we do business with other diverse organizations. Over the past two years, we've held diversity forums across the state to provide networking opportunities and educate small and diverse businesses about marketing, the Diverse Business Enterprise certification process, contracting and upcoming projects.

Whether inside the doors of PennDOT or across the state, diversity is key to the overall success of the agency. That is why we celebrate Black History Month at PennDOT, and that is why we will continue aiming to make diversity a focus at the agency.

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