Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Celebrating the beauty in our differences

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In the above video, CannonDesign teammates share their perspectives on what belonging means to them.

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We believe—and results show—that our team is stronger, our work is better, and our impact is greater when we recognize, include and amplify diverse voices. There is no place in our firm or our profession for racism, bias or inequity, and we’re doing the work to drive change. 

Our responsibility as a design firm is to help create more equitable pathways to success for underrepresented groups. We do that with the equitable solutions we create, but also in the ways we champion an inclusive environment within our firm every day, in every way.

We’ve made noteworthy progress on this long, complex journey, and we still have a long way to go.

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We're proud of our Employee Resource Groups, which create important forums for employees from different backgrounds (LBGTQ+, Women, Minorities, etc.) and their allies to connect, share and ensure all our people flourish. Watch this video to learn more.


  • DEI is not a “nice to have,” it's truly a business imperative. We recognize the importance and value of continuously diversifying our workforce, creating equitable practices and maintaining an environment where all feel welcome and heard. This is why we work to ensure that DEI is embedded in every part of our business.

    Sharla Toller
    Sharla Toller Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • Our CannonDesign family celebrates diversity, equity and inclusion within every role and opportunity. Change occurs when we create community, act with allyship, leverage individual perspectives and use our voices to be champions for all.

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    Brad Lukanic, AIA CEO

We’re not shy about our beliefs. We’re an anti-racist organization. We celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. We amplify the voices of women. We support working parents and caregivers. We follow inclusive hiring practices and provide equitable pay for all.

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Our approach

Our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Strategic Framework is our roadmap for actively investing in initiatives that foster equity and inclusion, break down barriers for entry into the profession and support underrepresented communities within our firm and in the cities where we live and work. It's organized around five areas of impact.

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Our words in action

Our journey to building a more inclusive workplace is intentional, continuous and multifaceted. We’re committed to actions that combat inequity, unify employees, integrate DEI practices into standard business operations and hold us accountable for tracking progress. Here’s a snapshot of a few initiatives underway.

National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) / We're one of 13 corporate champions in NOMA's President's Circle, working with NOMA to enhance the diversity within our ranks as a profession. We host NOMA Fellows each year for internships and support the organization's national conference.

Core Schools Initiative / Our Core Schools Initiative is focused on deepening our relationship with a few select schools. Howard University and Morgan State University, both historically Black universities, are among the schools we partner with and who we believe share in our commitment to diversify our industry. 

Inclusive Partner Program / Our Inclusive Partner Program is a first-of-its-kind program designed to forge deep-rooted relationships with XBE firms that maximize shared opportunities, spark genuine collaboration and lead to diverse project teams capable of designing solutions that affect real change.

Inclusive Partner Program
A peek into one of the sessions for our firm's Inclusive Partner Program. Every year, leaders from firms owned my women, Veterans and other underrepresented groups join us for 12-weeks of knowledge sharing, professional development and networking.

DEI Courses and Training / Our entire firm participates in mandatory unconscious bias training and our people leaders participate in mandatory training on topics like pronouns and inclusive leadership.

Licensure Support Groups / We offer support groups for employees seeking licensure, an initiative that we anticipate will contribute to increased diversity within our architecture and engineering teams.

DEI Report Card / Firm leaders are held accountable for outcomes via our DEI Report Card, which is informed by an annual firmwide DEI survey. 

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For the last three years, our LGBTQ+ employee resource group created and sold CannonDesign pride-themed merchandise, with all proceeds being donated to non-profits serving the LGTBQ+ community.
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For the last three years, our LGBTQ+ employee resource group created and sold CannonDesign pride-themed merchandise, with all proceeds being donated to non-profits serving the LGTBQ+ community.
CannonDesign teammates at the NOMA national conference.

Employee Resource Groups

Our Employee Resource Groups provide a platform for our teammates to network with each other, celebrate their identities and experiences, and create enhanced visibility within our firm.

Women @ CD

Women @ CannonDesign exists as a forum to advance the success of women through networking, mentoring and development opportunities, as well as to amplify women in the communities we serve.

Any employee of any gender is welcome to join the ERG. The group cultivates internal conversations through content and discussions that empower women, as well as encourage firmwide participation and engagement at all levels.


Our LGBTQ+ ERG aims to create an open and safe space for lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender and queer+ employees and allies to meet, network and grow together as a CannonDesign community.

Through networking, educational events, outreach, and more, the group creates a supportive and affirming atmosphere where every member of the community can feel safe, seen, included and celebrated in our firm’s ongoing evolution.


Comprising individuals from underrepresented backgrounds and allies who want to listen and unify, our PRISM ERG provides a safe space that recognizes racial and cultural differences and similarities, facilitates meaningful connections and affirms voices.

Through bold conversation and strategic collaboration, PRISM's goal is to help lead our firm in not only welcoming and amplifying underrepresented voices, but also creating a sense of belonging that drives action across our firm every day.


  • I am encouraged to see the continuing shift in mindset surrounding DEI topics within the firm. By creating a space for conversation, educating about the "why" behind things, inviting new ideas and providing fair opportunity, the firm is helping to elevate the sense of belonging for all.

    Snehal Daliya Associate, Mumbai Office
  • After a full year of participation in CannonDesign’s PRISM ERG, I’ve learned that an important part of being human is our desire to be heard and seen regardless of age, gender or race. When I am included in a solution, I feel truly engaged. When my voice is heard and respected, I want to contribute even more. What's even more magical is that when we engage with clients on a human level, they want to work with us for life.

    Jan Gao
    Jan Gao Vice President, Blue Cottage of CannonDesign
  • I am fortunate to live and work in a vibrant and multicultural environment, surrounded by many voices. CannonDesign is committed to integrating those voices as well as the broader concepts of diversity, equity and inclusion into the core of the business, and views this as the lens through which to view our work.

    Marsha Spencer
    Marsha Spencer Associate Vice President, Toronto Office
  • We're given space to be our authentic selves here. There is an acceptance and a commitment to diversity that resonates in action, in our employee resource groups, in messaging and in every day. CannonDesign is one of the best firms I have worked at.

    Cody King
    Cody King Co-Lead, LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group
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