Sign In, Renew, Sign Up

Search AIA

Search AIA Go

About The AIAPrograms & Initiatives

Page Tools

Reed Insight and Community


AIA Diversity and Inclusion > Tools for Firms
AIA Diversity and Inclusion
Value: The Difference - A Toolkit for Firms

Assess Your Knowledge

The AIA held its second diversity plenary, Value: The Difference – a Toolkit for Firms, on Tuesday, April 28, 2009 in San Francisco. This plenary brought together AIA Board members, collateral organizations, related organizations, firm representatives, interns, and students to identify tools, resources and approaches that can be utilized to increase diversity and inclusion within architecture firms.

This is the final outcome of this meeting. It is a diversity toolkit for firms—an online resource designed to assist firms in a variety of topic areas. Subjects addressed include: diversity management, HR policy, pipeline development, recruitment into architecture schools and the profession, succession planning, and women within the profession. Our thanks to the many professionals who gave their time to help create this living document. We hope that it will become a springboard for incorporating diversity and inclusion into the practice of architecture.





What Diversity & Inclusion Means

By John Egan, AIA
AIA Board Diversity Council

Look around you. Our world is changing fast and we architects are among the leaders of the change that is surrounding us. Diversity and Inclusion are now in the conversation called Integrated Project Delivery. Our effectiveness as designers is defined by the extent to which we embrace diversity into our practices. Diversity is as important to our business today as BIM and sustainable design. How do we find out where we are in the continuum of Diversity? This toolkit is designed to enable this understanding and will offer tips on incorporating this skill set which will ultimately be both professionally and personally fulfilling.

Why is this important?

Ask yourself if your vision is important to your work. Without it we would find the practice of Architecture difficult if not impossible. The same is true about Diversity. Without it, we are handicapped – limited in our potential for the exploring the rich possibilities of our world; missing business opportunities on which we build success. In terms of why this is important, think of diversity and inclusion from three perspectives, marketplace, workplace and developing the pipeline. The marketplace is diverse when you tie in all aspects of diversity. Marketplace demands are driving workplace diversification, which is increasingly driving the continued need for pipeline development. Click the links below to learn more about each area.



Developing the Pipeline

Diversity and the Bottom Line

By Armando Gallardo, AIA
AIA Board Diversity Council

Although much of what diversity attempts to accomplish is difficult to measure, observations indicate a clearly visible change in the complexion of firms and companies. In addition, changes most often refer to more openness in discussing issues around diversity, more self-expression in the workplace, participation in networking groups, better management practices and behaviors, and role modeling from the top of the organization. The general opinion of companies that have provided strong diversity programs is that diversity in its people at all levels from managing executives to entry level employees provides a better understanding of its clients, and customer needs. Thus they are able to better deliver their products and services. The most difficult task for companies seems to be the ability to provide a tangible tool to measure how diversity has affected their bottom line. The success of some of these blue chip companies notes that their success is reflected in the diversity of their teams. More

What’s In It for Me? The Business Case and ROI

By John Egan, AIA,
AIA Board Diversity Council

Return on investment (ROI) - the metric by which we measure success. Doug Freeman is CEO of Virtcom Consulting, which consults to Fortune 500 companies about bringing Diversity into their boardrooms (and spoke at the AIA Diversity Council 2009 Plenary). He cites a Harvard Business Review Case Study published in 2004, which describes a Diversity strategy created by IBM which partnered its women and ethnic minority Employee Networking Groups with its Market Development Unit to penetrate a market of 13,000 Women and Ethnic Minority businesses with at least $20M in revenues to purchase IBM products. The effort launched in 1998 when the business unit generated approximately $10M yearly. By 2003, the business unit generated over $300M in business. This is a proven business strategy, not just the right thing to do.

In our own profession, leading firms such as Anshen and Allen, Shepley Bulfinch, and HOK have developed Diversity initiatives to identify young minority talent and elevate them to senior leadership positions in their firms.

Marketplace Diversity

By Sherry Snipes
Director, AIA Diversity and Inclusion

In today’s ever changing world, diversity and inclusion should be critical elements of every firm’s business strategy. Diversity simply means differences. Inclusion is about ensuring that individuals are not “excluded.” Think about the diversity of your firm; employees, clients, vendors. Now think about all the ways they are different, as a business entity, but also as individuals. Race and gender are typically the first characteristics that come to mind, however there are many other elements that make up a diverse society. For example, disability, national origin, socio-economic differences, education, height, weight, culture, sexual preferences, age . . . the list can be endless.

Take a moment to think beyond adding staff. For small firms or sole practitioners that are not planning to hire, diversity should still be important. Think about diversity from a client or marketplace perspective. Clients are demanding, requiring or requesting that potential business partners have diverse teams. The client may not be vocal about it, but when you attend a business meeting with hmmm . . . three middle aged white men, that client just might not call you back and you will never know why. If the client does business with the government or government contractors, they often have diversity requirements embedded in the selection process and are required to ensure that you have equal employment practices. More

Developing the Pipeline

By Sherry Snipes
Director, AIA Diversity & Inclusion

Why is the pipeline continuum important?

The world around us is diverse, the market place is diverse . . . however, compared to the marketplace and U.S. population; demographics of the profession are not comparable. The compelling case for pipeline development starts with current figures for the profession generated from March 2009 analysis of AIA membership. More

In the News

Architecture for Everyone

AIA Doer’s Profile: Whitney Young Award winner Clyde Porter

AIA Doer’s Profile: Carole Wedge, FAIA

AIA Doer’s Profile: Chris Downey

Smithsonian’s African-American Museum


Featured Presentation

N.O.M.A. (National Organization of Minority Architects) Who Will Tell The Story?

Attendees at the Minority Fellows Reception during the 2009 national convention in San Francisco.



Footer Navigation

Copyright & Privacy

  • © The American Institute of Architects
  • Privacy