We had the opportunity to interview Angela Berry-Roberson, our Director of Diversity Contract Compliance at Ferrovial Construction in the US. In this interesting chat, she told us about her professional career, the challenges she encountered along the way, her personal motivations, and how Black History Month is celebrated.
Every February, the United States observes Black History Month to recognize the contributions and achievements of African Americans. Throughout this interview, Angela speaks to the importance of Black History Month, including the positive contributions, the cultural history and legacy of African Americans in US History and culture.
What do you do?
I am responsible for managing the comprehensive Diversity and Civil Rights contract requirements, program management and compliance for the company and associated U.S. projects.
How long have you been in your field? How long have you been with Ferrovial?
Approximately 27 years in Civil rights and Diversity compliance in the transportation industry and I have been at Ferrovial for almost 11 years.
Tell us what your day-to-day work is like.
On a day to day basis, I am responsible for the development of and oversight of the company’s external diversity program, overall contract compliance, the monitoring/reporting, outreach and administration of the diversity contracting programs on current US projects, the Workforce Diversity goals (including external labor compliance) on current US projects and support corporate external diversity affairs. Additionally, I am directly responsible for the diversity efforts for business development and pursuits of additional US projects.
What is the project you are most proud of?
I am proud of all the projects but especially the LBJ and the North Tarrant Express projects where Ferrovial truly made its first footprint in the US as it relates to our commitment to diversity especially minority and woman-owned businesses utilization. In fact, the efforts of the diversity team working together with the other departments and especially committed supportive leadership on both projects, Ferrovial exceeded the diversity goals by over 30% and used over 200 diverse firms. As a native Dallasite and resident in the greater Dallas- Fort Worth area, it is quite amazing to drive through the area and see the “fruits of our labor” and the positive impact that our projects have had in this region.
Why is Black History Month important to you?
As an African American, this month is important because many times history books and the news media only show the stereotypical and sometimes not pleasant facts and highlights about African Americans. During this month, the rest of the country and the world realize the amazing facts, positive contributions and the “real and sometimes untold” history (the good and the bad) of African Americans and our culture.
How do you think companies should participate in this?
I think companies should take the time to recognize the achievements of African American employees that worked for their company and African American-owned companies that performed work on their projects. I believe companies should take proactive steps to bring awareness about the significant contributions and influence that African Americans have made to their industry which are often overlooked or disregarded.
Why should organizations focus on creating more diverse environments?
Diverse environments that are inclusive of diverse people, thoughts and perspectives breed innovation, better teamwork and successful projects.
Why did you decide to pursue your career?
I decided to pursue my career in civil rights back before law school while working in the environmental justice section of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Dallas. Later in law school, I was a part of the Equal Justice clinical program and continued my work as an environmental justice legal intern at the EPA in Washington, DC. My career pivoted towards the career I have today when I was an intern in the civil rights compliance department with the local transit authority. These experiences especially my work in civil rights compliance solidified my passion to advocate for small and diverse businesses to ensure non discrimination with my desire to work in the transportation and construction industry.
What was your career plan to get to your job/role? What did you study? (undergraduate, graduate, masters, different positions)
I have an undergraduate degree in Political Science and History from Rice University in Houston, TX and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. with an emphasis on civil rights law. I have held several positions in the diversity and civil rights compliance area for both private and public entities involved in transportation and construction including Dallas Area Rapid Transit and Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority as well as work with Dallas–Fort Worth Airport and Federal Highway Administration.
What do you like most about your profession?
As an attorney by trade, I love the advocacy and opportunity that this profession gives me to provide opportunities and initiatives for small and diverse businesses as well as local workforce to participate on federally assisted projects in their communities where our projects take place.
Do you have any hobbies? What do you like to do during your free time?
I love to travel (which has definitely been impacted by COVID), watching movies and spending time with family and friends.
What books/music/series/movies would you recommend?
As an avid movie watcher and history lover about American Civil Rights and social justice issues especially for African Americans and women, I would recommend the following movies which are primarily in the African American genre except for a couple: “ The Hate U Give”, “The Best of Enemies”, “Iron Jawed Angels”, “Hidden Figures”, “Erin Brockovich”, “Malcom X”, “42”, “Selma”, “The Wiz” and “Black Panther”. There are sooooo many more.