Designing a more diverse industry

A diverse workforce is imperative for a just economy. Design can help propel that justice. The more representational our firm’s workforce is, the closer we are to serving our clients’ needs with informed, empathetic and innovative solutions. We are committed to ensuring our practice is equitable for all employees, representative of the communities around us, and focused on the future of design.

What we do

We advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion efforts through the leadership of our Diversity + Inclusion (D+I) Council and Women’s Forum. These groups partner with individuals throughout the firm to turn diversity aspirations into reality.

8

D+I Council Members

+

36

Women’s Forum office ambassadors

+

3

Conference scholarships funded by the D+I Council

+

50+

Items donated to Carolyn's House

What we're doing

Started largely as a grassroots effort by employees, our Diversity + Inclusion Council pushes forward programming focused on enriching the employee experience, fostering inclusiveness and driving change in the industry. One of the group’s signature events this year was a live broadcast with architectural historian Despina Stratigakos to present a lecture based on her book, “Where Are the Women Architects?” The event helped raise awareness surrounding the gender equity issues in the A/E/C profession.

To help our industry gain a better understanding of the experiences design professionals have based on gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity, we were honored to be a sponsor of Equity by Design’s (EQxD) 2018 initiatives. This year’s initiatives included firmwide participation in the largest survey on equity ever employed in the architecture profession. We were also proud to co-sponsor the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) conference held in Chicago focused on advancing opportunities for minority architects.

As the 2018 EQxD survey reports, gender equity remains a challenge within the profession. To help our company become a leader on this issue, in early 2018, a group of passionate employees started our firm’s Women’s Forum. To champion programming, we’ve established two ambassadors in each office to lead the charge in pushing forward gender equity at the local level. Recently, our Buffalo office introduced a speaker series with a visit from, and fundraising drive for, the YWCA of the Niagara Frontier, whose Carolyn’s House facility works to empower women, stand up for social justice and strengthen local communities.

We’re also proud of our employees for their commitment to igniting change.

  • In New York City, Aysu Unal, Siobhan Lee and Frances Fox were selected as members of the 2018 Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation (BWAF) Emerging Leaders Program, which provides professional development opportunities for women five to 10 years out of school.
  • Abbie Clary, co-director of our health practice, presented at this year’s Women in Design + Construction conference on the topic of harnessing the strength in gender stereotypes.
  • Diane Osan, our pediatric health practice leader, spoke at the Equity by Design Symposium on workplace culture and its alignment with firm values, and moderated a panel at the Canadian Association of Paediatric Healthcare Centres (CAPHC) Conference about how women can leverage compassion, transparency and diversity to break through the glass ceiling.
  • To address our professions diversity challenges “in the sandbox,” offices throughout the firm are engaged in programs focused on showing students the opportunities that exist within the profession. Of note, Luke Johnson in our Buffalo office chaired this year’s Architecture + Education program, the largest pro bono project in the city of Buffalo, and in Chicago, a number of employees teamed up with the Archeworks team and students from four Chicago-area schools for a design review and discussion about conceptual exhibits the students designed for The Museum of Hip Hop.

These initiatives have started some important conversations that are contributing to the progress being made in our industry. There’s a lot more work to do, of course, but we look forward to having an even bigger impact in 2019 — and beyond!