Knowledge sharing among business leaders with diverse backgrounds is not just about the transfer of information; it’s about helping to build resilient, innovative and cohesive organizations — of all types and sizes — that are capable of navigating the complexities of today’s business world.

Of the millions of companies that exist in the global marketplace, it’s not uncommon for small and diverse businesses to face additional challenges, such as limited access to resources, funding and networking. That is why the Business Diversity Program at Burns & McDonnell sees the importance of fostering partnerships, providing training, and exchanging valuable knowledge, strategies and best practices to help companies thrive.

"Small and diverse businesses are instrumental to the success of our projects from water to power to construction," says Tammy Martin, business diversity director at Burns & McDonnell. "Just as we build things, it’s equally important that we build each other up, and that includes our partner businesses."

A core initiative of the Business Diversity program is the Partner of the Year award, with which four small and/or diverse companies are recognized for outstanding project performance and client service. As part of the annual recognition, recipients are given a scholarship to the Tuck School of Business program at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Participants in the Growing an Established Diverse Business program at Tuck are exposed to key areas that small and diverse business owners need to master for success: strategy, marketing, financial analysis, operations, management and leadership.

Bayen Group, Foley Power Solutions, TQ Constructors and Bonton Associates received the award in January 2023. Marcus Bonton is a principal engineer at Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based Bonton Associates, which provides water and transportation solutions. In June 2023, Bonton attended the Growing an Established Diverse Business program. He expressed gratitude to be able to attend the training and applied the knowledge gained to establish new objectives and benchmarks for his business.

"We knew this would be a great opportunity to engage with other successful business professionals from a broad range of industry experience, backgrounds and growth to ultimately support the continued advancement of our business success," Bonton says. "Leveraging insights from what we learned about the client journey process has helped us improve how we approach teaming opportunities, which includes facilitating better communication, innovation and methods for streamlining our processes, which benefits our clients and strengthens our relationship as partners."

Bonton added that client journey mapping was a valuable concept covered during the training, which he says has been applied at his business.

"We were able to develop a strategy and invest in our sales and marketing resources that will help lead the firm in successfully implementing this process to better understand and optimize customer experience for our clients, from initial contact to post-service follow-up," Bonton says. "Our goal is to continue to improve our client engagement through identifying touchpoints, understanding client needs, improving service delivery and communicating internally with our team and clients to gauge our progress and identify areas of improvement."   

The Tuck program is designed for experienced owners who would like to take their business to the next level. It is offered once a year and is open to diverse professionals from all industries.

"The sharing of business insights and leaders’ experiences benefits others in similar positions," Martin says. "Providing key opportunities to others promotes a culture of learning, collaboration and growth that benefits individuals, companies and industries as a whole."


This post is part of Together By Design, a business diversity newsletter published by Burns & McDonnell to advance a community of inclusion. This newsletter features stories of great opportunity, leaders who bring out the best in others, innovative approaches, and diverse perspectives that shape the business community and the world at large.

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