Diversity enriches everyone; the RIBA is on the case
2014 promises to be a very busy year for the RIBA. This month, the ground floor gallery at Portland Place, designed by Carmody Groarke, will open with an inaugural exhibition entitled The Brits Who Built the Modern World (see preview, page 68). Held in conjunction with the BBC, it will showcase the work of Farrell, Foster, Grimshaw, Hopkins and Rogers, and be followed by a discussion with the architects on 11 March. April sees the launch of our new website, and with it the refreshed ‘Find an Architect’ search tool for clients. Work will continue with the Membership Review and implementation of the Fellowship category. The year will conclude with the opening of our new offices at 76 Portland Place, designed by Theis and Kahn, together with the new Mann Island gallery in Liverpool, whose opening exhibition recently received HLF funding. All this is set against an improving economic background and an optimistic outlook, as confirmed by the most recent Future Trends survey. Ongoing work under the heading RIBA for Clients will seek to inform and stimulate opportunities within this developing environment.
Last year saw the appointment of Jane Duncan as equality and diversity champion. The RIBA created the role to give senior support to the proactive work delivered through Architects for Change (AfC), established in 2000, and which brings together external networks including Women in Architecture, the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust and the Architecture Student Network. Last December, the RIBA Board approved additional funding for this year’s programme, which will see our work step up a gear. The institute is committed to identifying the causes, problems of, and remedies to, inequality in architecture and the broader industry. It is pivotal in leading the profession to a diverse future.
While the UK is becoming more ethnically diverse, in 2012 94% of architects were white, up from 81.1% in 2001. Ethnic and cultural groups make up 8% of the population, but only 1.8% of architects
There has been a good deal of discussion recently about the gender gap, and discriminatory and unlawful behaviour against women in architecture. But equality and diversity affect us all, and the statistics are disappointing. While the UK is becoming more ethnically diverse, in 2012 94% of architects were white, up from 81.1% in 2001. Ethnic and cultural groups make up 8% of the population, but only 1.8% of architects. In the working population 19% have some sort of disability but there is little information in architecture, while 48% are women, but RIBA members number a declining 16%.But experience of the most successful chartered practices suggests a diverse workforce can improve productivity and performance.
In 2014, the RIBA will tackle inequality on two fronts, underpinned by membership research carried out with the Construction Industry Council. We will improve access to careers in architecture for young people who have previously been excluded, and promote good working practices to tackle retention and progression in the profession.
We will identify and promote a number of different role models to encourage a more diverse range of young people into the profession. The FLUID Mentoring Programme, developed by AfC with the CIC, will continue to help those from diverse backgrounds who aim for management and leadership roles in the built environment.
Through investigative events we will seek out and share best practice on access, supportive management, fair play and flexible working conditions. This builds on past initiatives to make the profession more inclusive. Diversity in practice in the UK faces an urgent challenge and we need an open discussion about why it makes sense to make the profession more accessible and inclusive.
RIBA Awards 2014
The deadline for all UK and EU entries excluding Scotland is midnight on Friday 7 February 2014. Details at: architecture.com/awards