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The DEI Digest with Priyanka Parkar, ALICE Technologies


Welcome to ‘The DEI Digest’ with Romey Oulton, a Q&A focused on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Built Environment.

This Q&A series is an opportunity for our North American Consultant Romey Oulton to discuss Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Built Environment with lead changemakers in the space who are championing DEI.  Each week we will ask burning questions, providing a platform to share career advice, discuss innovative strategies to overcome challenges, and how to lead by example. 

This week we have been in touch with Priyanka Parkar, Senior Marketing Manager at ALICE Technologies.

ALICE Technologies is the creator of the world’s first construction optioneering platform. Founded in 2013 based on research from Stanford University, ALICE helps contractors and owners to reduce risk and plan, bid, and build capital projects more efficiently. The company works with large customers in the infrastructure, commercial, and industrial construction segments, companies such as Bouygues, Align JV, Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company, and Implenia. Headquartered in the U.S., ALICE also has significant operations in the Czech Republic, the U.K., and India.

What does diversity, equity, and inclusion mean to you, and why are they important?

To me, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) mean recognition and respect. When a work environment prioritizes these principles, it promotes a sense of community that recognizes and appreciates uniqueness, perspectives, and representation.

As a woman, a person of color, and an immigrant, I have personally experienced the transformative power of employers who prioritize DEI. Promoting DEI definitely goes a long way in eliminating biases, driving growth, and bringing out the best in individuals to ultimately serve as a catalyst for innovation.


What strategies has ALICE Technologies implemented to ensure there’s a sense of belonging, equity, and inclusion? What tangible results have you seen come from these efforts? 

ALICE Technologies, a series B startup, has established a strong global presence, and this is what sets us apart when it comes to DEI. These factors play a crucial role in cultivating a positive and inclusive culture that values recognition and respect. By embracing this approach, we not only foster a globally diverse and inclusive workforce but also showcase our commitment to harnessing our team’s collective strengths and talents. In addition to this, we collaborate seamlessly in a virtual environment and deliver results that only goes to demonstrate the sustainability and effectiveness of our efforts. 


Just 10% of the construction sector in the US was represented by women, and most of that was in office operation positions rather than on the field — has this underrepresentation affected ALICE Technologies? If so, how?

While I don’t come from the construction industry, I’ve met a number of incredible, inspiring women from the industry over the past couple of years. Through some of the personal conversations I’ve shared with them, I’ve come to understand that one of the factors contributing to the underrepresentation of women is the demanding nature of a boots-on-the-ground environment. It often lacks the flexibility and comforts associated with office-based roles.

With more women seeking to transition to an office-based role whether in the industry or within ConTech, there might be an increased likelihood of fewer women replacing them in these roles. So, even though such transitions have a significantly positive impact on ConTech companies such as ALICE Technologies, it is essential to consider the long-term consequences for the entire ecosystem.


Why is it that the construction industry is deemed ‘slow’ or ‘resistant’ to adopting technology? Is this justified? If so, what are some of the barriers you’re seeing?

If a person outside of the construction industry were to visit a construction jobsite today, they would be fascinated by the complexity and the sheer amount of technology that is actually being utilized today, such as drones, robots, autonomous equipment, virtual and augmented reality, smart wearables, 3D printed material, exoskeletons and more. Hence, the perception of resistance to tech adoption does not accurately represent the industry. 

However, the slower rate of tech adoption can be attributed to a range of contributing barriers, from fragmentation due to multiple stakeholders to the complexities involved in digitization and digitalization. So, when you look at another industry, say FinTech, digitization of financial information might appear a lot simpler with a steady adoption curve. But digitizing all of the hundreds of categories of unstructured data points on a project is an order of magnitude more difficult.


Are you seeing any specific trends around DEI in the Construction space?

An increasing number of events and conferences are specifically focusing on DEI, which is helping to raise much-needed awareness about diversity, equity, and inclusion. Apart from that, many companies are recognizing the importance of focusing on DEI initiatives in the workplace.


Do you feel resistance towards DEI initiatives becoming the leading priority still exists? Is this justified/unjustified?

While some resistance may still exist toward DEI initiatives becoming the leading priority, I believe that much of it stems from a lack of awareness and understanding rather than deliberate opposition. However, even such resistance is still unjustified.


How can those in a position of privilege better support and advocate for our underrepresented colleagues on an ongoing basis?

It is important to remember that DEI should go beyond a mere social campaign, and so the initiatives should extend beyond social media posts, blog posts, etc. The insights gained from such awareness campaigns can be immediately worked upon–both through small and large actions. For example, even a seemingly minor action like ensuring diversity for a company’s representation at external events such as conferences or tradeshows can serve as a meaningful starting point in the DEI journey. 


How do you think the ConTech sector will fare in comparison to other technology-related industries (i.e FinTech) given the current unexpected economic climate? 

That can be a challenging one to predict in the current economic climate. However, it’s important to note that construction is an essential industry globally and has demonstrated resilience to challenging economic environments. Additionally, ConTech plays an important role in the construction ecosystem, making it just as essential as the industry itself. So, while other tech-related industries may experience shorter survival trends, ConTech’s essential nature may contribute to its relative stability. 


What is your guilty pleasure? Favorite song? 

My guilty pleasure is binge-watching TV shows! As for a favorite song, it’s not just a challenge to pick only one, but it will be unfair to all of my favorites. 😉

LMRE are specialist PropTech recruiters, if you need help growing your business or making any key hires please get in touch via the form below!

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