JE Dunn Construction is a national building contractor focused on delivering the Exceptional Client Experience. With 23 offices across the US, Dunn employs more than 3500 people and generated revenues in excess of $4 billion in 2019. A family- and employee-owned company that has existed for almost 100 years, JE Dunn takes great pride in both the quality of its work and an employee-centric company culture, managing hundreds of project sites across the country. JE Dunn is a strong corporate partner and generous sponsor of the GMSDC, with active participation in council initiatives, committees and signature events. Under the leadership of Cherelle Cortez, the senior diversity and inclusion manager, East Region, JE Dunn is among the GMSDC’s most progressive and innovative members, having served the council in multiple capacities for more than eight years.
JE Dunn was recently among 27 privately owned corporations named to the US Best Managed Companies list, a recognition of high achievement and performance excellence based on strategy, execution, culture and financials. JE Dunn’s strategic objective is to perform in the top third of its construction peers in profitability, while staying true to its guiding principles. These principles – including putting families first, doing the right thing, serving others, working as a team and living healthy, fulfilling lives – drive a simple yet powerful vision – “We exist to enrich lives through inspired people and places.” The approach to culture at JE Dunn, with a keen emphasis on employee ownership of the business, offers powerful insight into what has made the company so successful.
Diversity and Inclusion leaders like Cherelle Cortez each support both supply chain and workforce diversity initiatives for one of JE Dunn’s four regions. Now in her 8th year in this role, Cortez manages the East Region, which includes locations in Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and the Carolinas. She understands the vital importance of supplier diversity in the COVID-19 pandemic economy and is committed to drive change wherever she can. “It is critical that we not stop fighting for our minority vendors in these challenging times. Instead, we must renew our emphasis on investing in them and providing opportunities for them,” she says. “It is estimated that 41% of all black businesses have closed due to the pandemic and will not reopen. We have to do everything we can to preserve these companies and help nurture them to sustainability.”
The JE Dunn approach to Diversity and Inclusion is built around three core practice areas that Cortez and her peers are responsible for – Marketplace, Workforce and Workplace. Each of these disciplines drives one aspect of the cultural fabric of JE Dunn –
JE Dunn has a longstanding commitment to assist in the growth and development of minority and women-owned, industry-related businesses, contractors, vendors and service providers. At the heart of this commitment is the company’s signature Minority Contractor Development (MCD) Program, established in 2006. MCD recognizes that long-term success in the industry requires specialized skills and competencies as well as industry relationships. Through practical, hands-on classes and activities, the program opens doors to subcontract work and joint venture partnerships with JE Dunn. Relationships with supplier certification organizations like the GMSDC also fall within this area of the business. The Atlanta office of JE Dunn, with the support of EVP Mike Bartlett, has set a goal of 20% diverse supplier participation on all projects. JE Dunn seeks to enhance its 2nd Tier diversity by hosting Intentional Partnering Sessions that bring together prime suppliers and potential sub-contractors for networking and project opportunity discussions.
A central element of the JE Dunn success formula is a highly skilled, very diverse and empowered family of employees. The Dunn family has always run the company with an inclusive approach that engages employees in key decision-making and rewards them through profit-sharing and stock ownership. JE Dunn has partnered with Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the region to establish scholarships for minority students in construction and engineering, and to recruit diverse talent into the company. These scholarships also include an opportunity for an internship, where students may gain experience, explore the business and learn about the potential for careers at JE Dunn. An infusion of fresh talent from all across the spectrum is an important element of how JE Dunn sees itself going forward into the future.
Workplace culture is a paramount consideration at JE Dunn and a foundational element of the company’s growth and success. Employees are encouraged to speak up, speak out and engage company leadership about anything that concerns them. The goal is to create a sense of Belonging in a family type of atmosphere, ensure a feeling of Safety on the part of every staff member, and to remind all employees they have a Voice and are encouraged to use it. Dunn has implemented Employee Resource Groups, which allows like-minded team members to coalesce around things they have in common. Senior leadership participates in Regional Listening Sessions where they facilitate a Diversity Dialogue with employees. The company has also made a commitment to increase its donations in support of causes and organizations that serve traditionally disadvantaged communities. Cherelle Cortez was recently recognized for her efforts in this area in a Diversity Professional Magazine article entitled ‘Diversity in All the Right Places.”
JE Dunn is committed to be a leader in the Diversity and Inclusion space in the construction industry. The GMSDC is grateful for the amazing relationship it enjoys with Cortez and her team, as we work together to create opportunities for minority business suppliers. It is clear that JE Dunn is poised to enjoy another century of success and prosperity. Company culture matters, and JE Dunn is a prime example of how it impacts productivity, stimulates longevity and improves the overall quality of life for everyone. It is an outstanding example of how bringing everyone to the table produces exceptional results.