‘Guides for Equitable Practice’ Provides a Resource for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Issues

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the University of Minnesota have released the first three chapters of the “Guides for Equitable Practice” to AIA members.

AIA sponsored the development of the guides to help educate architects and firms on best practices for equity, diversity and inclusion principles and to provide strategies for incorporating the values into architectural practice.

“Everyday, architects solve critical challenges in society through design and advocacy of the built environment,” says AIA Equity and the Future of Architecture Committee Chair Emily Grandstaff-Rice, FAIA. “We know there’s more work to be done to shape the profession to be more equitable and accessible. These guides frame the conversation and provide actionable items for individuals, firms and allies. Achieving this vision has a direct impact on the relevance of our profession and our work.”

The guides were developed using current research on gender, race and culture in the U.S. and perspectives from architects on what equity, diversity and inclusion mean.

Topics included in the first three chapters of guides explore intercultural competence, workplace culture and compensation within firms. Subsequent sets, both due next year, will address career progression, talent recruitment, leadership development and community engagement.

“The guides provide tangible steps for increasing the intercultural skills of the profession and for creating robust and healthy workplace cultures in our firms,” says Renee Cheng, FAIA, who was named Dean at the University of Washington’s College of Built Environments. “It was an honor for our team at the University of Minnesota to be selected to author them.”

The guides are one component of the AIA’s broad commitment to overcome inequities and advance the profession. In 2015, AIA formed the Equity in Architecture Commission to address broader concerns about disproportionate demographics in the profession. The development of the guides was one of the Commission’s eleven recommendations adopted by the AIA’s Board of Directors.

In 2017, the commission’s work was assumed by the AIA Equity and the Future of Architecture Committee. The committee is tasked with helping implement the commission’s recommendations and tackling other equity, diversity, inclusion and workforce issues.

In addition to the ongoing development of the guides, the committee is also making two anti-harassment training videos available to all AIA members.

“There’s an opportunity for architects and firms to create a more inclusive and welcoming culture,” says AIA 2018 President Carl Elefante, FAIA. “Architects have a duty to be socially aware and social entrepreneurs. It’s up to each of us to do our part to make the profession attractive and available to all people.”

“Guides for Equitable Practice” can be accessed by AIA members through their AIA accounts online. The guides will be available to the public early next year.

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