June 8th, 2011

AIA Diversity & Inclusion Policy Challenge

I have to take a break for a little while, from looking for a full-time job.  I do not even get a hopeful feeling anymore when I send out resumes, which makes the subsequent depression, upon receiving yet another rejection letter, all the more surprising.  So, I have to step away for a bit.  I consider myself a pretty level-headed, even-tempered person, but my inability to “close the deal” and get a job offer is really doing a number on my self-esteem.

I am going to digress from “making lemonade” about my frustrating job search, and clear my head and talk about something a little different.  The AIA has been promoting their Diversity and Inclusion program to promote diversity in the architecture field.  The AIA National Convention has a session on the topic, which I could not attend due to a lack of funds.  I would be curious to know if the session talked about the lack of diversity in general, or took a stance and asked firm leadership to take steps to examine diversity in their own offices.  Talk does not create jobs.  

What I want to know is if the session offered tangible steps?  Did it offer technical assistance and support to encourage diversity?  How did they define diversity?  Did they offer a hiring goal as a challenge to the field?  Or did they just pay lip service to the idea of diversity but not challenge architects to take an advocacy position?

With regards to the diversity question, is diversity measured by race?  Socio-economic status?  Rural representation?  Gender?  Sexual orientation?  Physical abilities?

I look at the faces at different area firms when I am at events or visit company websites.  Without calling out anyone, the firm staff is overwhelmingly homogeneous to a fault.  Many are headed by people very involved in AIA policy development and programs.  Does the disparity between policy and implementation strike them as incongruous, or are they oblivious to the obvious disconnect between policy and practice?

My challenge to firms is to take a good look around your office and ask yourself if your firm truly represents your clients?  If you have a lot of publicly funded projects, does your staff mirror that of your client?  If your focus is education design, I would pose the same question.  It is not about numbers, let me make that clear.  It is about representation.  I do not think anything you say about integrity matters if you cannot be honest about your own inability to consider the added richness that diversity can bring to your staff in terms of talent and unique abilities.

Enhanced by Zemanta