Hatch leader honored for diversity contributions at event celebrating Black History Month
Pittsburgh, USA—Robert Agbede, vice-chairman, Hatch USA, was honored by the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering at an event celebrating Black History Month. Agbede was honored for his professional and civic achievements and for his contribution to the recruitment and retention of African American and women engineering students, and for his leadership both within the University of Pittsburgh and the broader Pittsburgh community.
As the former CEO and owner of Chester Engineers, Agbede built the company into the largest African-American-owned water/wastewater, energy, and environmental engineering firm in the USA. Agbede helped to establish mentorship and scholarship opportunities at the Swanson School, including the Robert O. Agbede Scholarship for African American students pursuing engineering degrees, and the Robert O. Agbede Annual Diversity Award to encourage the recruitment and retention of African-American faculty and students. He also serves as a member of the Swanson School’s Board of Visitors and is Chairman of the Diversity Committee. His commitment to diversity extends beyond his work with the University of Pittsburgh, with similar and privately financed endowments at Carnegie Mellon University, also located in Pittsburgh.
Under Agbede’s leadership, Hatch has been participating in the City of Houston’s mentor-protégé program since 2013, winning Professional Services Prime Contractor of the Year from the City of Houston’s Champions of Diversity Awards. The program assists certified, minority and/or women-owned engineering firms (protégés) to grow and develop their businesses in the areas of marketing, human resources, sales, financial analysis, etc. under the guidance of prime firms (mentors). The program has since expanded to include Pittsburgh, where the team there has been working toward the goal of allocating a minimum of 35 percent of its scope of work to its protégé firms depending on protégé's "readiness" and ultimate capability to deliver.
"Hatch believes in treating well-qualified protégé firms as true partners and offering them an increased percentage of the project scope, which will add to their strength and level of expertise in the long run. Additionally, we believe very strongly that as a company we have a professional and social responsibility to mentor disadvantaged firms by providing opportunities for cross learning and growth for all parties," said Agbede.
In the future, Agbede and Hatch will continue to grow this program by identifying partners in Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, Illinois, and California, and when the opportunity presents, expand the concept to other cities in the USA and beyond.
Beyond the USA, Agbede is working to impact Hatch’s broader, global diversity and inclusion strategy as part of the company’s Diversity & Inclusion committee, which is comprised of leaders from around the world. Their mandate is to set the direction, provide guidance, and deliver on Hatch’s strategy to ensure that everyone—no matter their gender, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, disability, or even way of thinking—can reach their full potential.
Agbede continues, "Building a diverse culture means diversity of thought and diversity of representation. Not only is it the responsibility of our leaders, I believe that it is the responsibility of every individual in our organization. Together, we can ensure that diversity and inclusion is part of our DNA and who we are as a company."
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