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How Sarah Wigglesworth Architects creates effective EDI outreach to young people

Words:
Clare Bond

Clare Bond of Sarah Wigglesworth Architects explains how the practice’s three categories of EDI activity work in relation to groups under-represented in the profession

Four years ago we decided to formalise an annual programme of activity to promote equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) – principles that have always been integral to our 10-strong practice. As a small office you’re always wearing a lot of hats and we felt it important to ensure that enough time was dedicated to supporting our EDI ambitions. 

One thing we found useful was breaking our goals down into categories. We look at the practice through three ‘lenses’ – as an employer, as a consultant and as a knowledge-sharer – and have KPIs for each. Most activity in the third category is outreach, with an emphasis on young people who are under-represented in architecture.

We look at the practice through three ‘lenses’ – as an employer, as a consultant and as a knowledge-sharer – and have KPIs for each

We are leading workshops in schools with Open City. Others that take place in our studio, organised in partnership with Urban Learners and the Grimshaw Foundation, have been a real success. With Kingston University we offer a paid four-week internship, and through Arts Emergency provide work experience placements and mentorship. We also do CV and portfolio reviews, working with Paradigm Network, Built By Us and Black Females in Architecture to reach the right people. Feedback is heartening; sometimes people just need the confidence to apply for that dream job. 

Although we contribute time, not money, it’s still a cost. We have priced it, but haven’t yet had to use the figure in bids that factor in social value; we’d rather evidence our commitment through our actions. Though I lead the work with a small team, everyone is involved which has its own benefits, informing our project work too. Ultimately it makes us better architects. 

 

 

 

 

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