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March 6, 2023

Meet the women at Skanska building a more inclusive culture

  • Skanska Women’s Network empowers women throughout the construction industry.
    Skanska USA


    “Passionate,” “bold” and “inspired.” That’s how Lacey Maki, Laura Halady and Dayna Dealy each describe their work at Skanska when asked to choose one word. Between 4:30 a.m. alarms, chauffeuring kids to school and sports, 5-mile runs, jobsite visits, leadership meetings and multiple cups of coffee, each of these senior leaders not only plays a pivotal role in building and developing iconic projects throughout the Seattle region, but also in developing and building a more gender-inclusive environment within the entire construction industry.

    Today, as the industry continues to grow in size and complexity, we are seeing an emphasis on diverse teams and skills. This requires hiring, training, advancing and supporting women across all jobs, levels and aspects of construction.

    In their respective leadership roles across Skanska’s Building, Civil and Commercial Development business units, Lacey, Laura and Dayna are responsible for leading the development and construction of multi-million-dollar commercial and residential high-rise towers and multi-faceted transit extensions, as well as a stewarding technology and system advancements, sustainability initiatives, employee advocacy, and company growth.

    They not only help set the strategic course for some of the Puget Sound’s biggest projects, but they also are all members of the Skanska Women’s Network (SWN), an employee resource group focused on mentoring, developing and retaining women at Skanska and attracting women into the industry. SWN works to promote a gender-inclusive culture and to advocate for more understanding, opportunity, and growth industry-wide.

    Heading into Women in Construction Week, I sat down with Lacey, Laura and Dayna to discuss the joys and challenges of the job, SWN, their vision for the future of inclusion in construction, and more.


    Q: Tell us about your role at Skanska.

    Lacey (Skanska USA Building): As vice president of operations, I’m responsible for commercial management of our projects, staffing, placement, recruiting, employee advocacy, technology and systems.

    Laura (Skanska USA Civil): My official title is project controls manager, but on a big project like the Sound Transit’s L300 Lynnwood Link Extension, I’m responsible for things like DBE and labor compliance, management of office staff, and overseeing the various aspects and costs of the project itself.

    Dayna (Skanska USA Commercial Development): I’m vice president of development, and am currently leading Skanska’s development of Kaye, a 30-story multifamily apartment tower with ground-level retail in downtown Seattle.


    Q: What projects are you most excited about?

    Lacey: So many. Completion of the upgrades at T-Mobile Park for the 2023 MLB All-Star Game. We also have many elementary and middle school projects underway, which excites me since I have two school-age boys. And, of course, there’s The Eight, our amazing Class A-plus office tower in Bellevue, which we’re building in partnership with our Commercial Development colleagues.

    Laura: My work on L300 excites me most, as this project is multifaceted with bridges, rail, highway, parking garages, and other structures. My role and the diverse nature of the project allows me to touch so many things to make the project successful.

    Dayna: I’m most excited about the development of Kaye. I’ve been working on it for the last five years from its concepting stage. It’s my baby! It’s a historical site that will support Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood by providing more housing and jobs in a beautiful area. I’m also inspired by innovation and sustainability. Technology is catching up to the ideas for improving climate change. The rate of change is exponential compared to five-10 years ago.


    Q: Are there other team members or groups of women you’ve worked with, and what type of impact has that had on the success of projects?

    Lacey: I’m particularly proud of the UW Waterproofing project, because this was a pursuit that I lead, and most of my team members are also women. I spoke with a couple different women who were inspired to enter our business after they saw our team of mostly women win this project. That was really gratifying.

    Q: How does Skanska help empower women and build the bridge to advance women in construction?

    Laura: Empowering women is a big thing for Ryan Clayton and the L300 leadership team. Our managers are supportive and transparent, as well as very intentional about starting the conversation. In my role, I work closely with Sound Transit and labor groups to ensure that we are empowering all our women from craft workers to suppliers to small business partners.

    Lacey: As with any company trying to navigate change in a traditionally male-dominated industry there are challenges, and Skanska recognizes that we need to look like our community and clients, which are much closer to a 50/50 gender balance than the construction industry. Skanska actively looks for opportunities for women to take leadership positions, allowing a culture to grow where women can succeed, including a focus on inclusion.

    Q: What is your role in SWN and what inspired you to join?

    Dayna: I’m the co-vice chair of SWN. I was inspired to join after seeing the many passionate people involved who were trying to make positive changes in gender equality. Additionally, the programs show me a pathway to progress. There’s bias everywhere and SWN has taken a practical approach to help people self-advocate and understand the differences.

    Lacey: My career has been a long journey of fighting for respect and equal treatment and I finally saw a place for allyship with strength in numbers to help drive improvement and change.

    Laura: We are building a large coalition of women at the L300 project. I have a reputation of “if you are not sure where to go, go ask Laura.” At first, I rolled my eyes, but quickly realized that this could help a lot of women find their voice and confidence.

    Q: What are some steps for making construction more inclusive to men and women?

    Lacey: Education, being vulnerable, being curious and feeling safe to ask questions and having empathy towards others.

    Q: Having seen the industry evolve, what do you hope for the next generation of women in construction?

    Dayna: I’m excited about the future because of the work SWN is doing here and nationwide, fostering relationships with organization like the Girl Scouts of Greater LA, and tech and community colleges for scholarships and recruiting. My development team is 66% women. I also hope future generations realize they deserve to speak up and should be confident. There is a career path that is not only linear — there are many ways to be involved in building buildings. Development, design, construction, engineering, safety, and on and on.

    Laura: I have seen many changes for women in construction, but there is a long way to go. I want to continue to embolden women and given them the tools to ask the right questions while learning how to communicate the challenges we face. We have started raising awareness and letting men know that it is OK for them to join us. This isn’t a “no boys allowed” mission.

    Lacey: I hope the future/next generation of women see more women in the high-level leadership ranks. I want women to see people that are like them when they look up and they can see that they aren’t the only ones, and that their career can go all the way to the top if they want it to.

    Jessica Christopher supports communications for Skanska USA.

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