Rishona Harris leads the talent acquisition team at Centuri Group Inc., a trusted provider of natural gas and electric construction services. Centuri is a forward-thinking company focused on making changes that will positively impact the future of the construction industry. A significant part of that change has been shaped by Rishona’s efforts to improve diversity and inclusion.
So how does she do it? We recently sat down with her to uncover her strategies for success.
“Centuri is a company that considers the impact they’ll have on the future. They are open to new ideas and making things better not only today but for the next 100 years.”
What does it mean to you to be a Hiring Hero?
“I don’t know if I’d call myself that. I have a team of superstars that are excited to show up every day, put in the work, and make a difference in peoples’ lives. I am just there removing roadblocks but my team—they are the ones out there in the trenches.”
Can you talk more about your role and how your team is structured at Centuri?
“I plan, develop, and oversee implementation of recruiting, retaining, and training strategies across the organization. My team is made up of talent acquisition professionals and L&D specialists spread out across the U.S.”
And what has been one of your biggest challenges so far?
“Due to the nature of the business—contract construction work that comes up on an as-needed basis—we are required to staff up at a moment’s notice. We need to onboard quality talent quickly because each day we are forced to delay the start of a project is detrimental to the success of the business.”
So, the speed of hiring is important but you also emphasized quality. How have you been able to attract a high volume of skilled construction workers?
“Over the past year, we’ve expanded our L&D department to be able to offer extensive training and guidance to our new hires. This allows us to bring in people with the skills we are looking for, but potentially lack experience in the field.”
Quality can be hard to measure but do you have any key success metrics you can share?
“Well, of course we need to look at numbers and how quickly we can staff up for a new project. But, we also look at retention rates to measure quality. And the good news is that people are staying with the company longer since implementing our new L&D program. Another thing that is really important to us is diversity. Part of delivering on quality is creating an inclusive culture with workers that are representative of the communities we work in.”
Let’s expand on diversity and inclusion. What has been your approach at Centuri?
“It has required us to take a step back, look in the mirror, and ask the important question: ‘Are our teams representative of the communities we work in? And what message does it send if they aren’t?’ The first thing most companies do after recognizing they need to improve diversity is target people they’re missing. But what we do, is we partner with various volunteer programs in the community such as Women in Construction, and Job Corp, which are organically diverse.”
“We have unconscious bias training and we certainly encourage conversations around inclusion across the organization. But the most important thing we’ve done is to create a peer network that allows for candid conversations and opportunities to focus on respect.”
That’s incredible. Have you had any hires come through partnering with these volunteer organizations?
“Yes. Initially, we got involved with these groups to help out and now, on top of that, we are providing them with the skills they need to be successful at Centuri. For example, we help train young adults over at Job Corp, and then we often see them as employees later. Seeing them succeed here is incredibly exciting for us!”
Have you established any specific programs at Centuri to help improve diversity and inclusion?
“Yes. We have unconscious bias training and we certainly encourage conversations around inclusion across the organization. But the most important thing we’ve done is create a peer network that allows for candid conversations and opportunities to focus on respect and remind people of core values. We also reiterate to all of our leaders that they have a responsibility to speak up and report issues if they see them.”
You are a veteran so you know first-hand how valuable their skill sets can be. Do you have any incentives or programs set up to attract more veterans at Centri?
We do. It is called Operation Solid Ground which offers resources and training to help veterans, and it is an extension of our brand. We love vets for so many reasons and we find that there is a very natural transition into our industry. We give them the opportunity to partner with us and learn new skills but it also gives our team a fresh, new perspective.
That’s incredible! You’ve built an impressive resume working in talent acquisition. What makes you most proud to work at Centuri?
“Centuri is a company that considers the impact they’ll have on the future. They are open to new ideas and making things better not only today but for the next 100 years. We have made it our mission to set our employees up for success with proper training and we go above and beyond to create an inclusive work environment. We still have work to do, but I am really proud of how far we’ve come.”
Join the Centuri team! Committed to training talent and creating an inclusive work environment, Centuri is offering employment opportunities to people with a wide range of skills and experiences. Check out some of the roles Rishona and her team are hiring for right now!