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Diversity & Inclusion

Not to tail off of everything that is happening right now in the US, but wanted to start a thread here discussing diversity and inclusion in the workplace. This should NOT be a place to talk about looting, riots, etc. Would be nice to focus on peoples experience in the workplace and how being of a minority skin color has affected them or how you have witnessed others being affected. Discussions about how offices view employers, ratios of minorities, etc I feel are all welcomed. This is a very hard time and I have witnessed several friends and employees obviously feel impacted and want to open it up to everyone and support each other when we really need it the most.

*I am a white male. My partner is non white and I have witnessed first hand, several times them being treated differently and prejudiced based on their skin color. It is so true you don't really acknowledge it until someone you love or a friend goes through it - and it is heartbreaking.

 
Jun 3, 20 2:33 pm
BulgarBlogger

I am prejudiced against anyone with a B.S. in architecture. 

Jun 3, 20 6:46 pm  · 
 ·  4

One of my diplomas says B.S. Architecture. What preconceived notion does that give you about me?

 · 
BulgarBlogger

If that were your only diploma.

 ·  2
BulgarBlogger

If that were your only diploma.

 ·  2
BulgarBlogger

BUT- it does say that it took you a while to figure out who you were and wasted 2

 ·  2
BulgarBlogger

More years of tuition because you couldn’t figure yourself out. Thanks

 ·  2
Non Sequitur

I am prejudiced against people who take 4 posts to make one moot comment.

6  · 

It only took one more year of schooling than a B.Arch would have (4+2 instead of 5), and I knew that's what I wanted to do as a junior in high school ... so I think I had myself pretty well figured out. If I had done a B.Arch I would have had to go to a different school out of state, where I would have had to pay more in tuition (6 years of in-state tuition at a state school < 5 years of out-of-state tuition elsewhere). 

What does that tell you about your prejudice?

1  · 
square.

while others with a 5 year degree were slaving away in studio from day one, i got a well rounded liberal arts education for 2 years before studio (which had an equally large impact on how i see the world), not to mention all the fun stuff on top (parties, college sports, actually socializing, etc.). so cool, glad you're another cog in the architecture machine. just like they designed it!

3  · 

BB and square seem to have rather large chips on their shoulders. Why?

1  · 
square.

mostly responding in hyperbole, but having a BS has been really important to shaping what i believe today, so i find BB's comment stupid. i also think specialization is killing architecture, and i think we need more people who have diverse backgrounds instead of those who have only studied architecture (true of all professions). i have no doubt there is a connection being specialization/inequality and our problems with diversity/empathy. this article from today is relevant https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/04/opinion/coronavirus-college-humanities.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage#commentsContainer

1  · 

As long as you are able to be licensed (preferably in multiple states without more IDP and exams) I don't care what type of education you have.

2  · 
square.

i guess i'm not satisfied with the pathetic lack of diversity in this profession, and the way in which the profession of architecture is structured is inherently exclusionary. aka- the reason there is such a profound lack of women and people of color in leadership is because there are way too many barriers for people to get there, and that starts with widening the net, not closing it through more and more prohibitory degrees and professionalized hoops to jump through.

it's all connected; if we're going to have hard conversations as part of what is going on more broadly, it starts with looking at ourselves and the discipline and what it can do better, across the board... so yes, i have a chip on my shoulder

2  · 

square.'s chip is not the same as BulgarBlogger's chip. I also have a bit of square.'s chip on my shoulder too. One of the best architects I've ever worked with was a interior design degree holder who through experience pathways got licensed as an architect later in her career (no NAAB-degree). I want more architects like her in positions of leadership. She may be restricted from getting reciprocal licensure in some states, but I'm ok with that as long as another partner can sign the documents for those states. Where she's working, it doesn't matter. I'd also like to see all states have an experience pathway and be less beholden to NAAB degrees, but that's another topic.

3  · 

One of the best architect's I know never went to school for it and became licensed after apprenticing for 15 plus years. David Salmela.

4  · 
square.

chad, i see what you're saying, and i think i agree in principal, but i would push back a little and say that i think now is the time to care about what kind of education our discipline is offering (specifically in regards to diversity, not the usual "are kids these days prepared" stuff), e.g. why some municipalities make it more difficult, prohibitive, etc.

1  · 

I agree with that square.

1  · 

I switched firms last year. The new firm has a much better ratio of gender diversity overall, but especially in leadership positions. I've noticed striking differences in how that impacts the office. There seems to be more listening and caring from the leadership, and less internal politicking to move up the corporate ladder. I know not all of that simply comes down to gender diversity, but I do think it is a big part of it.

We still have a way to go concerning racial diversity, but I think our firm is probably ahead of the curve when it comes to an average for architecture firms generally. We are working on it though. It does come up in conversation and it does affect decisions that get made. I feel like that is a positive step rather than just assuming it will all work out, or ignoring it altogether. 

Jun 3, 20 7:11 pm  · 
3  · 
BjörkIngels

I second this comment, I have never felt like I am unheard by female leadership. Whereas male leadership tends to opt for gaslighting such as "I understand.....BUT, *states how they don't understand.*"

 · 

Even the male leadership at my firm is noticeably different than the other in terms of listening and understanding. They could just be better people overall, but I suspect there has been some effort put toward becoming better leaders. I can't say for sure if this is due to female leadership colleagues or not.

1  · 
bowling_ball

I feel like my office is fairly diverse. Out of 29 people, 14 are women; 8 are immigrants; 5 are visible minorities. The oldest is nearing 60 and the youngest is 25.  As somebody involved in the hiring process, I can tell you that we have no diversity policy - official or otherwise - we just try to hire the right people and it's worked out this way.  We reflect much more diversity than the city census numbers show.

Jun 3, 20 8:02 pm  · 
1  · 

Wow, great to hear from both of your office views. It stems from positions of leadership in my experience. Of an office of 300 people, maybe 10 are black. We tote ourselves as one of the most diverse & inclusive offices but never really had a conversation about this come up until this week when it was a very awkward conversation that felt so forced and un-natural.

Jun 3, 20 8:09 pm  · 
1  · 
THE BAKER

Thanks for starting this discussion Black Orchid.

I've been working in the industry since 2007 and the most diverse private practice I've worked for (speaking purely about diversity amongst architects/designers) was a minority-owned firm. Since then, I've worked at a lot of other run-of-the-mill "design-oriented" private practices and there are plenty of POC (AA), but they are not in the roles of architects/designers. They usually show face as the receptionist and  administrative staff... I currently work as an architect for the federal government and this is definitely the most diverse team of architects and engineers I've ever worked with! It's both delightful and refreshing and the best decision I have ever made! I was talking to a colleague of mine about why we made the leap from private to public last summer and we both mentioned not wanting to find ourselves "out in the cold" again if another 08'-09' happened. 

Jun 4, 20 8:57 am  · 
1  · 
archanonymous

The last firm I worked at was quite diverse, from entry-level staff all the way up through principals. It was very corporate but among the corporate giants is known for having strong culture, so perhaps that plays a role. 

Current shop is less diverse but we work on more impactful community projects. They have a reputation for running their staff into the ground, and lowish pay at entry levels, which I think drives away many candidates that don't come from money - the are also loathe to hire at anything above PA level, so if the pipeline didn't get diverse grads in 10+ years ago, there's no way for them to get diverse staff in leadership. 

At both places I helped out with hiring, and like to think that I approached it equitably. One I really struggled with a couple years back was for a technology focused position where there was a white candidate and a black candidate. The white guy had achieved a ton in his career and worked for all the right firms on the right projects. The black guy had a pretty dismal education and work background in comparison, but he was really passionate, though with a whiff of bullshit artist that comes with many technology-focused positions. (if anyone has ever tried to hire a BIM manager or computational designer, it's even worse than wading through normal resumes)

In the end we promoted someone from within so I didn't have to weigh in or make any decisions, but it was still enlightening and difficult to confront. Was one candidate fundamentally better than the other, or were they products of the education and work experiences available to them based on institutionalized ideas about race? Would it have been our responsibility to give the black guy a shot even if we felt he wasn't as accomplished or capable? Obviously there's no easy answers, but I did think about it alot at the time.

Jun 4, 20 10:03 am  · 
1  · 
archi_dude

Just confirming the question is. "Should you hire someone of less capability than another candidate based on their skin color?"

 ·  3

I saw nothing in archanonymous's description that spoke of difference in capability between the candidates. Rather it spoke of achievements, education and background ... which I interpret as a more/less impressive resume.

4  · 
archi_dude

"Even if he wasn't accomplished or capable"

 ·  1
SneakyPete

EA, don't waste your time. Archi-bro skipped all of the background information which provided the proper nuance and context in order to try and dunk on archanonymous.

 · 
archanonymous

i ignore archi_dude so i guess i missed his sweet burn. per EA, one of the things I struggled with (and lots of firms do) is to actually evaluate the abilities of a candidate irrespective of achievements or resume. It is even more difficult when you factor in different opportunities, funding, and even primary education available to the disadvantaged and disenfranchised.

3  · 

SneakyPete, I'm not. Just making sure the conversation doesn't get derailed based on a strawman argument.

2  · 

+1 archanonymous. I wish more people understood (and I'm not saying I even fully understand it) the systemic racism in our society. I do agree that it is a struggle to separate out what sets one candidate apart from another and whether it is based on actual abilities, or simply privilege and opportunity. It's going to take some time to undo the historical effects, but it starts with people being willing to give someone a chance to prove their capable even if they don't look the best on paper.

6  · 
SneakyPete

I apologize for not giving you the benefit of the doubt. archanonymous, I've worked with a few people who were less than amazing at their jobs, not because they didn't have the capacity to be great, but because people tended to avoid socializing with them for whatever reason. I say this as an example of a reason why current skills may not be as cut and dried as we all like to think.

1  · 
randomised

On the client side of things...in 10 years working at multiple architecture offices (not counting being self-employed), designing everything from private houses to hotels, schools, multi-family residential etc. there was only one non-white client and that was because the project was in Oman...

As for the offices, the small offices I worked at however, in the two most ethnically diverse cities in the Netherlands (white Dutch being the largest minority there), were always very mixed at intern and junior level thanks to the Erasmus-travel grants for European Union students, not so much with Dutch people with a minority background (except the office doing middle eastern projects) and English was the office language most of the time.

As far as I know there was never a specific hiring policy at any of those places to try and hire more minorities, it was all portfolio and CV based of what I could tell (not always involved)...although some offices stated in their publicly published job openings that they encouraged people from minority backgrounds to apply, that was often just for show.

The offices I worked at basically reflected the make-up of the schools I studied at, so that's the workforce you will see in the hiring pool. So I guess it all starts there, with education, making sure that is and remains accessible to all.

Jun 5, 20 7:17 am  · 
 · 

(not satire, actually serious here)

Been on my own or free lancing for a long time (15+ years) but in short had one boss who hires minority and women intentionally, real nice guy (must be the Maple Leaf)... I'm in the US.

I've worked or consulted full time for at least five +(5+) women owned businesses, 3 of which were majority minority owned.  The applications that are geared for Women and Minority owned work are tedious and tiresome.  So next time you complain about a program that is geared towards Women and Minority owned businesses as bias - go fuck yourself, it's soo much paperwork its discouraging.  Many of the women I consult for or even had work for sometimes just send me in to stand there and deal with what appears to be sexist assumptions.

On the client side, I do a lot of "middle class" work, like home additions, etc... and live in the most diverse part of the USA, I would say I average over 30% of my clients are not white.  I treat all my clients the same as long as they pay.  The "middle class" clients tend to pay better than the wealthy clients.  I've been recommended lately in the non-straight community (I hate classifying everything, people are people man) and even told a client that checks all your polar opposite of straight white male she can call herself whatever she wants - I'm here for support.

I'm batman.

I will suggest the following, although I would NOT like to believe it, again I don't view the world this way and like I said I even can't stand clasiffing people constantly...even in this part of the US I feel sometimes my black clients don't get the same sets of bids I would expect...I'm at least suspicious of the reaction or lack thereof sometimes.  Like I don't even get responses in what I would call a fairly affluent black neighborhood on bids....

- Not in Character - C.

Jun 5, 20 7:42 am  · 
4  · 
senjohnblutarsky

My office lacks gender diversity in the professional positions.  That's not really for lack of trying.  There just hasn't been retention, for a variety of reasons.  I recently moved to a higher position, and I now have some say in the hiring process, but I can't say there is an effort to hire based on anything other than qualifications and potential.  I really don't feel that hiring should be any other way. 

I expect people to show up, do their work, be allowed to do their work without moronic activities interrupting, and then go home to live their lives.  Some efforts need to be made on the first two, but I feel like I've gotten that third one nailed down lately. 

Jun 5, 20 8:16 am  · 
 · 
liberty bell

My firm is very white, as are most architecture firms.  We don’t currently have any Black employees. But I will share that the non-profit I am on the board for has a Black executive director and the last two weeks have been incredibly difficult for her, with very good reason. We (the board) are encouraging her to take plenty of self-care time without feeling bad about it -she’s incredibly driven and (as we architects all know) driven, hard-working people tend to feel guilty about taking time off.

I encourage everyone to be generous in kindness with each other, especially Black coworkers, right now. 

Jun 5, 20 8:37 am  · 
1  · 
randomised

Also shared this on Archinect's Statement on Racial Injustice, just came across this post on LinkedIn:

Jun 5, 20 10:21 am  · 
 · 
Rusty!

My workplace is super diverse in almost all imaginable ways, except for one indicator. Socioeconomic background. I can't name a single person whose parents didn't also have college degrees. Keep in mind only 27% of US adults have college degree. Which makes Architecture even more of an exclusive club.

Going all the way back to my college days, I remember the poorest of students dropping out of Architecture. Cost of supplies alone was insurmountable. Sure you could build models out of recycled cardboard boxes and elmer glue, but you were at a noticeable disadvantage. You can put together a presentation on near zero budget, but you looked like a fool next to a professionally printed one. Your portfolio could not really compete.

So, yes, at least in NYC, pool of architects is extremely diverse, both ethnically and in nationality. All drawn from a smaller pool of well off families.

I am not sure this part is fixable from within the profession. 

Jun 5, 20 10:51 am  · 
3  · 
archanonymous

I'm still paying off the printing (paper and 3D) from my thesis presentation 11 years ago! As of right now, the cost for that presentation alone is like 20% of my remaining student loans.

3  · 
Rusty!

When I handed in my thesis for archiving purposes, I printed everything black and white on cheapest 8 1/2x11 paper. Stapled in the corner. Couldn't afford anything else. A lot of my classmates did properly bound books with glossy paper and a hard cover. Multiple copies for friends and family. My entire professional career now revolves around shuffling cheap 8 1/2x11 paper, so I guess it all worked out.

3  · 

Truth is, after you get your first job in a firm, no on really cares about your thesis.

 · 
archanonymous

oh absolutely, I would tell myself not to spend the money if I could do it again, but there was tons of peer and institutional pressure to do so. Many spent 2-4x what I did...

 · 
square.

rusty, i think schools can do a lot in this regard.. with that $$$ tuition printing and supplies should be free (many schools have “budgets” for students, which even the playing field a bit more). the office pays for printing, why not schools??

1  · 

for purposes of metric excluding Rusty! points above about education/wealth (which is probably one of the many reasons disproportion (i.e. systemic))

https://www.census.gov/quickfa...

also, really should be by region if you're going to compare. i.e. if your city is this then you should be this, etc...

Jun 5, 20 11:41 am  · 
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