What if you were going to start your firm today, from scratch, with the knowledge that you now have? Would you do things differently? How could you ensure that the firm is prosperous and encourages equity for everyone involved?
This week on EntreArchitect Podcast, Rosa Sheng, AIA joins Mark R. LePage to share The 7 Essential Elements of an Equitable Architecture Firm.
Creating a Culture of Equity… by Design
Rosa Sheng, AIA, is a founding member of the Bohlin Cywinski Jackson San Francisco office, whose work includes the Pixar Animation offices and Apple glass structures. She’s also a founder of Equity by Design.
Started as a grassroots effort to gauge the conditions of practice and what people were going through in the life of an architect, Equity by Design soon evolved to capture a larger conversation about the state of practice. What was and wasn’t working? What can we do to better to improve the conditions for architects and designers as well as their clients?
There are lots of hurdles throughout a profession that could cause you to leave: hiring, the state of the economy, needing to “pay dues”, licensure, jumping through hoops, caring for kids, selves or others, the glass ceiling. Equity by Design was formed to provide valuable information that people need in order to keep themselves in the profession.
Equity in architecture comes into play when the leaders and innovators of tomorrow commit to each part of the process of creating a more equitable practice.
How does equity affect a firm culture and visa versa? How can we be intentional about designing a firm around a culture that’s based on equity?
The 7 Essential Elements of an Equitable Architecture Firm
- Mindset for Equity // There is a critical difference between Equity and Equality. Equity is about recognizing difference and providing just and fair opportunities for people to have access to the same success. Equality is about “sameness” and recognizing that everyone gets the same “piece of the pie”.
- Implicit Bias // Everyone has bias. Acknowledge your biases and say, “I know these things about myself. Now how can I change them to improve the workplace culture so I’m not just hiring and interacting with people like myself?”
- Work Life Integration // Allow for flexible work hours. Embrace the concept of “core hours”. Schedule the bulk of your meetings at “core hours” to allow for flexibility in work hours and avoid the stress of people missing out.
- Leave of Absences // Develop a paid leave plan. Whether you’re on maternity or paternity leave, taking care of a sick or elderly family member, or a caregiver. Confidence that one’s position is secure in times of crisis is critical to a culture of equity.
- Mentors & Champions // Build a culture of organic mentorship that supports people’s passions and unique skill sets. Allow that to feed back into the firm. Build relationships with “champions;” people that purposely and conscientiously look out for you, your personal development, and your advancement opportunities.
- Clear Promotion Policy // One of the top issues for people leaving firms is that no clear criteria for advancement exists. Create a clear and transparent promotion policy that outlines what steps and skill sets are needed in order to advance within the firm leadership structure.
- Metrics & Pay Equity // You can’t know how you’re progressing if you don’t self-measure. Track specific metrics that will allow you to look at your payroll on an annual basis and see how you’re doing. Are you hiring in a diverse way? Are you paying people in an equitable way?
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Referenced in This Episode
Connect with Rosa on Twitter @EquityXDesign, on Facebook, at EQxDesign.com & TheEquityAlliance.com.
Equity in Architecture Resolution 15-1 by Rosa Sheng
How to Take the Bias Out of Interviews by Iris Bohnet
WE315 EQxD Hackathon & Happy Hour
Join us at the EntreArchitect Meetup