Perkins&Will and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) released best practices for creating and implementing comprehensive diversity programs for U.S. firms in a white paper titled “Creating a Culture of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion [J.E.D.I] in Your Architectural Practice.”
In the paper, authors Gabrielle Bullock, FAIA, and Bill Schmalz, FAIA, maintain that architecture firms must rigorously uphold J.E.D.I. principles to remain relevant to clients, attractive to talent, and competitive in an increasingly diverse world.
“Our industry and society are facing an unprecedented convergence of crises. Economic, health, environmental, social, and racial justice challenges have presented us not just with an opportunity, but also a responsibility, to address them,” said Bullock, who has served as director of global diversity at Perkins&Will since 2013. “We can elevate the industry by challenging the status quo and reimagining the future by looking through the J.E.D.I. lens.”
The authors outline seven easy-to-understand steps, such as articulating a vision, identifying a leader, establishing a network of partners, and developing tools to effect positive change at both the educational and professional levels. If followed, the steps promise to help firms of any size make measurable progress toward social and cultural competency.
“The profession is long overdue in addressing these topics,” said Schmalz, a member of the Perkins&Will LGBTQ+ affinity group in Los Angeles. “We are hoping this paper gives firms a process and the tools they can use to achieve success in creating a culture of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.”
In addition to outlining best practices, the white paper calls for the urgent establishment of J.E.D.I. programs within every U.S. firm. The reasons, the authors argue, are clear: First, demographics in the United States are changing—and rapidly: Today’s professional workforce is made up of more people of color, more women, and more openly LGBTQ+ people than ever before. Second, clients seeking architectural services are increasingly diverse and, consequently, more likely to hire teams who look like and identify with them; a firm’s failure to reflect the diversity of its clients is a failure to meet its clients’ needs. Third, architects have an imperative, as social visionaries, to use the power of design for the greater human good.
“Human society is complex, multicolored, and multicultural. Architecture firms must reflect this truism, authentically, in everything they do,” said Bullock. “Not only does their future success depend on it; the future health and well-being of entire generations depend on it, too.”