The New Workplace
New Study Highlights Architecture Firms’ Diversity Challenges
“More work is needed” to improvediversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) inside architecture firms, according to a November 2022 survey by the U.S. General Services Administration and Dodge Construction Network. Only 23% of surveyed architects reported “high engagement” with DEI activities while 31% reported “moderate engagement” and 46% reported “little/no engagement” (a number that rises to 60% inside small firms). More than one-quarter (26%) of architects said that owner use of diversity as a selection criterion would create a major burden for their companies.
Training that promotes a more diverse, inclusive, and positive workplace culture has been the most widely adopted DEI initiative by architecture firms. The survey found that 58% of architects worked for firms that offered DEI training—including 48% of small firms, 55% of midsize firms, and 83% of large firms. The next most common measures undertaken by architecture firms were considering DEI when selecting other team members (cited by 42%) and a code of ethics that includes a DEI focus (39%).
While recruitment practices are critical components of DEI strategies, 42% of architects reported that their companies lacked formalized recruitment policies—a percentage that rose to 65% at small firms. Only 23% said their firms had initiatives in place—such as consideration of nontraditional and blind interviews—to diversify their hiring. Surprisingly, 40% of architects in large firms said their companies relied solely on standard nondiscrimination language in their recruitment policies to prioritize diversity. While acknowledging the challenge for small firms, the report concluded “a codified policy could help make the goal more top-of-mind when actively recruiting new people.”
Only 14% of architects reported that their firms had formal paths for staff advancement that included increasing leadership diversity—while 13% had no clear path and 61% said there was no formalized path. “These findings suggest that the profession is largely relying on organic changes to make its leadership more diverse,” the study noted. “However, the low levels of diversity present in the leadership of the profession at this point suggest that a more intentional approach is required.”
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