LOCALLY OPERATED, GLOBALLY CONNECTED: Telling Our Story of D&I at the PA Turnpike Commission
Who from this region could NOT connect a story of travel to loved ones or a vacation destination on the scenic, mountainous Pennsylvania Turnpike? The Turnpike’s existence is based on tradition and history that in itself is the key to supporting, engaging and connecting Diversity and Inclusion (D&I).
On October 1, 2015, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) celebrates 75 years in business. Overtime, the roadway has been expanded, repaved, restructured and rebuilt, taking into consideration the system’s age, utilization and population demographics.
The roadway makes it possible for major Pennsylvania economic centers to connect and interconnects with local rural towns, cities, adjoining states and Canada, as well as the customer that travels our system contributing each day to the diversity of our state and ensuring some type of transaction in any of the 552 miles. There is no doubt that the Turnpike is “locally operated and globally connected” through our workforce and the travelers that we serve.
Engaging the workforce and our contracting community in D&I plays a major role in aligning these considerations and connecting them to the Commission’s strategic plan.
Here are some of the ways in which it has been accomplished:
D&I PLAN – Developed in 2011, the Diversity and Inclusion Department was established to engage and direct the initiative with the establishment of the department and the hiring of a director.
BUSINESS AND SUPPLIER DIVERSITY – In January 2013, the PTC adopted the Business and Supplier Diversity Policy 7.10 committing the PTC to specifically redress the underrepresentation of the disadvantaged diverse business community in hiring, recruiting and contracting through advocacy, contract compliance, goal setting, policy oversight and outreach. The hosting of an annual “Meet the PA Turnpike Commission” event to raise awareness of the upcoming contracting opportunities for diverse contractors, subcontractors, and business leaders supports our commitment.
CEO INTERN FELLOWS PROGRAM FOR DIVERSE GROUPS – In February 2014, the PTC approved the first formal internship program for high achieving college students and graduates from underrepresented groups in the areas of engineering, administration, accounting, construction, information technology and maintenance proactively addressing future workforce needs through the inclusive fellowships designed to give students “wrap-around” development throughout their tenure.
D&I, EEO TRAINING AND CULTURAL COMPETENCY – Supporting D&I through aligning PTC mission and values through employee D&I and EEO training as well as the diverse culture through annual history celebrations of African Americans, Women, Hispanics and promoting Men’s health and wellness.
FUTURE WORKFORCE PLANNING – Engaging and partnering with PTC departments and teams to address the shrinking, retiring workforce and to capture institutional knowledge and skill essential to the organizational continuance through succession planning and formalized internships, job shadowing and summer work programs allow for a continuous flow of students and graduates that are introduced to the various transportation careers through community involvement and connecting with counselors, career advisors and professors at colleges and universities. Connecting with vocational and technical schools and associations allow for support and opportunities for non-professional technical and maintenance positions.
The Office of Diversity & Inclusion continues to provide a strategic role in the organizational success of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission by creating initiatives and opportunities that position us to continuously serve and lead the way “To operate a safe, reliable, customer-valued toll road system that supports national mobility and commerce.”
Myneca Y. Ojo is a veteran diversity and inclusion professional that has over 15 years’ experience.
By Myneca Y. Ojo, Director of Diversity and Inclusion