Arick Washington, Southland Industries
People First

Cultivating a Legacy: How Arick Washington Is Building More than Just a Foundation for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Kathryn Foxby Kathryn FoxJul. 10, 2024

Joining Southland as a plumbing apprentice in 1999, Arick Washington, now Regional Construction Superintendent, has been a trailblazer and leader in promoting diversity and inclusion within the company.  

Recently, Arick won the People's Choice Award, an honor nominated and voted on by everyone at Southland. Recognizing his extraordinary commitment to the organization and our core values, Arick was celebrated for this achievement at the Southland Awards Show.   

Reflecting on his award, Arick considered his impact at Southland throughout his career so far.  

Implementing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging (DEIB) initiatives  

Throughout his time at Southland, Arick has been dedicated to creating opportunities for under-represented businesses and individuals. This has ultimately enhanced Southland's strategic partnerships within the industry.  

Reflecting on why DEIB is especially important in the AEC industry, Arick stated, "Meeting DE&I contract requirements can be really difficult, and a lot of under-utilized businesses are used as a pass-through companies. Some of these companies don't have the complexity or infrastructure to handle sizeable projects to meet requirements. An under-utilized company just hasn't had the same opportunities as other to sustain, which ultimately creates growth." 

 "We need to give under-utilized companies the opportunities to be successful, it's the right thing to do."  

Arick shared that he initially got involved with the DEIB program at Southland after a mentor recognized its importance. "I accepted the challenge of creating a lane for DEIB and was allowed to do what I needed to do when envisioning what the program would look like," he said. Arick added, "Getting started is not easy work. You have to allocate resources to the initiative to help the company. The people you allocate or who are involved at any capacity have to share the same passion for DE&I."  

In addition to helping drive DEIB initiatives at Southland, Arick is a founding member of AEC Unites, which facilitates intentional opportunities for Black talent and Black-owned businesses in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry. As a founding member, Arick said, "AEC Unites' purpose is to create a pipeline for Black-owned businesses to sustain and to keep work coming to the under-utilized businesses — despite whether a contract has minority requirements or not."  

Reflecting on being a founding member, Arick said, "It's a good feeling being a part of something that's starting from the ground up. Being able to have input on a movement of a community of people is a privilege."   

Looking back, ahead, and beyond a DEIB strategy  

Looking back on his career, Arick shared, "being patient" is the advice he would give his younger self. "Southland gives you opportunities to further your career. The people and culture are different than other companies that I have worked for or around." 

With many successful projects under his belt, Arick said, "Being selected as the People's Choice Award winner is definitely the highlight of my career so far. To be acknowledged by your peers is an amazing feeling."  

Looking ahead at the future, Arick noted that the success of DEIB initiatives is based on respect and caring. In addition to his integration of his personal passion of DEIB into his professional pursuits, Arick considered his legacy at Southland, "I want my legacy to be that I was a person that made a difference in the company and the companies I've worked with. That I did whatever it took to get the job successfully done, built relationships and careers, was respectful to and respected by others, and maintained Southland's core values through my actions."  

Arick's unwavering integrity, collaborative approach, and overall commitment have not only helped Southland grow, but have also specifically aided under-utilized businesses in competing for, winning, and succeeding on projects.  

To learn more about Southland's commitment to DEIB, click here 

Arick Washington, Southland Industries
Arick Washington, Southland Industries