Diversity in Business: Ravi Norman, Thor Construction Inc.

Ravi Norman has been CEO of Thor
Construction Inc., a $100 million construction
firm that was among the key builders of U.S. Bank Stadium, since 2009.

Thor is already heavily invested in the African- American community. It’s the largest minority- owned business in Minnesota, and it’s moving its headquarters from Fridley to North Minneapolis.

However, Norman, who is also on the board of directors at Summit Academy and Greater MSP, says Thor’s leadership thinks about diversity a little differently than other companies.

On “deep intent”

“Diversity has never been and never will be, in my organization, a program. [Diversity is] embedded in the company philosophy and values and mission. Programs come and go [but] values, mission and philosophies don’t — they’re sustained with deep intent. Diversity, as a concept without deep intent … does not work. It actually induces fear and anxiety and marginalization with most people … who seek out commonality oftentimes along the lines of race, gender and sexual orientation.”

On employee values

“When people walk through the doors of my organization they bring their full spirit, their physical nature, their emotional nature, their mental health nature and their financial issues. I have to be able to match my core values to their core values so they can find their inspirational voice in a common value structure.”

On wealth

“There has to be a democratization of the economic wealth. It cannot just be disproportionately resting at the top. We’re ultimately going to have to be more aggressive with our profit-sharing model. We’re going to have to be more intentional about our cultural activities. And in my organization, we’re going to have to be a breeding ground for entrepreneurship.”

On how to get started

“As a CEO you do have to be engaged. It does start with you. Then I say it also takes engagement of internal and external stakeholders. That really is trying to achieve the golden circle.”

On recent racial unrest in the Twin Cities

“We’re at the precipice of a dangerous time in our community and in this region. This region and community needs hope. That’s what I talk about [at Thor and in my own family] … how do we induce hope in the face of this challenge? For me it’s God, community and personal responsibility.”

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