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Member spotlight: Mortenson accesses diverse talent to enable growth


Mortenson, a top 25 builder and leaders in commercial construction and renewable energy, is taking on innovative approaches to access talent. We engaged in a Q and A with some of their team to learn how they are approaching talent acquisition and navigating the challenging war for talent that exists.

Read this conversation between Whitney Harvey, Senior Director of Workforce Diversity and Inclusion of the Minnesota Chamber Foundation, and Joffrey Wilson, Vice President, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at of Mortenson. 

Whitney Harvey: I understand that Mortenson just celebrated 70 years. Who is Mortenson today?

Joffrey WIlson: Mortenson is a private, family-owned company, now in our third generation. While still based in Minneapolis, we now operate out of 13 cities across the U.S. The company has evolved over time, expanding beyond construction into commercial real estate development, energy, and infrastructure. Today, it’s a $5B plus company with over 6,000 team members.

WH: Diversity equity and inclusion has been a focus for many organizations since 2020. Where is Mortenson focusing as it pertains to diversity, equity and inclusion?

JD: We started our DEI journey in 2015, establishing a strategy, investing in learning and development, and creating an advisory committee. We made progress over several years, but decided to accelerate our efforts in 2020, establishing a leader for our initiatives and refreshing our strategy. We have three focus areas.

First, we’re working to establish diversity in our workforce. We think there is value in diversity of all types. Difference in background and experiences helps bring different perspectives to solving the complex problems we face as a business and society.  

Our second focus is making sure every team member at Mortenson has what they uniquely need to be successful. We evaluate a wide range of offerings. From prayer rooms and updating restroom facilities to pay equity audits and benefits updates, we want to make sure our team members have the support they need.

Our final focus area is inclusion. The benefits of diversity are only realized if leveraged with inclusion. We want our team members to be heard and feel like they belong. You hear the word family a lot at Mortenson, and we don’t take that lightly. 

WH: You mentioned diversity of your workforce. Why is that a focus?

JD: We’re a growing firm in a growing industry. It’s talent that’s needed to fuel future growth opportunities. In short, we need to bring more people to the industry and Mortenson. A focus on diversity is needed to help expand the talent pool. We’re doing a better job of looking in different places and establishing partnerships to help us access talent.


WH: You mentioned partnerships. What are some of the partnerships you’ve established to drive diversity in your workforce.

JD: One key partnership is with the ACE Mentor Program. ACE is a national organization, focused on introducing high school students to STEM, and particularly architecture, construction and engineering.

The organization reaches 10,000 students a year. 70% of the participants identify as a person of color and 40% identify as young women. Most important, 90% of participants go on to college or skilled training programs. 

In addition to ACE, we partner with several national professional organizations, engaging in career fairs to access talent and develop our current team members. Organizations include the Society of Women Engineers, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, National Society of Black Engineers, Groundbreaking Women in Construction and Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers.

Mortenson was also one of the founding companies of Construction Inclusion Week, an industrywide initiative to increase diversity and inclusion. It is now in its fourth year and continues to grow each year.

WH: Your company prides itself on innovation in the space of building. What are some of the things you’re doing to drive innovation as it pertains to diversity and talent?

JD: Since 2023, Mortenson has partnered with Wallin Education Partners to provide the Mortenson Pathway scholarship to Twin Cities area students who are interested in pursuing a career within the construction industry. By awarding up to $30,000 towards a two-year program at Dunwoody College of Technology, students from low-income and underrepresented backgrounds have the financial aid and advising they need to reach their career goals. 
In addition to the financial support, recipients of the Mortenson Pathway also work part-time while pursuing their degree and engage in a full-time paid internship at Mortenson between their first and second year of college. Mortenson team members provide mentorship and support throughout the program, which serves as a pathway towards becoming a full-time team member upon graduation. As our first cohort of students embark on their second year of the Mortenson Pathways program, we look forward to opening the door for another group of students this year.

WH: What’s next for Mortenson in its DEI journey?

JD: We continue to work to create an awesome experience for our current team members and to attract more talent. One of the “nexts” for us is continued work to also help drive diversity and inclusion in the industry. We collaborate with many firms and share best practices throughout the year. We are also working with our project partners and suppliers along with others across our industry to advance initiatives because we know we are stronger together. 


Want to learn more?

If you and your business are interested in identifying ways to engage a diverse workforce and create an inclusive workplace, please contact Whitney Harvey at or visit our DEI Resource Center and view our DEI Playbook