Feature Article

Re-forming the Building Industry: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

People from marginalized communities are shockingly underrepresented in the U.S. building industry. It’s past time to change that.

comox valley exterior

This Stantec-designed hospital in British Columbia earned the LEED pilot credit Social Equity within the Project Team. Achievement requires a focus on firm-wide EDI.

Photo: Stantec Architecture Ltd./Stantec Consulting Ltd.
This is part one in a two-part series on equity, diversity, and inclusion in the building industry. Part two, to be released February 10, 2020, will focus on advancing social justice during the project process.

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Black people can’t be architects.

That jaw-dropping statement came from the mouth of a child in reference to William Bates, FAIA, 2019 president of The American Institute of Architects (AIA). Although most adults wouldn’t say such a thing, our minds might go there due to messages we’ve assimilated based on cultural norms—messages like “architects are white men from affluent backgrounds.”

“We have these biases that are implanted in our minds very early, and they’re difficult to unravel,” Bates told BuildingGreen. It’s not just those of us who enjoy certain privileges who have these biases: less privileged people internalize them as well. “It puts the message in the mind of a minority or a woman that ‘I can’t do those things; I shouldn’t even try.’” This leads to a Catch-22: most architects actually are white men because everyone assumes architects are white men. Things are even worse in construction and engineering, where professional women and people of color are hardly represented at all.

In this report, we’ll look at the depth and breadth of the building sector’s equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) problem; the negative implications for the industry; and some things individuals and firms can do to motivate change.

Originally published December 20, 2019 Updated January 7, 2020

Melton, P. (2019, December 20). Re-forming the Building Industry: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Retrieved from https://www.buildinggreen.com/feature/re-forming-building-industry-equity-diversity-and-inclusion