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AIA Diversity and Inclusion > Tools for Firms > Best Practices – What Works? What Doesn’t?

Best Practices – What Works? What Doesn’t?
By Lauren Bostic, Assoc. AIA
AIA Board Diversity Council

The following are a few practices that can improve individual and team performance, recruit diverse employees, and increase overall profitability. Firm recipients of the AIA Diversity Recognition Program listed below have enacted these and other diversity practices.

Know Your Community

Organizations that make a commitment to engaging the community they serve will be better equipped to communicate and create relationships within that community. In addition to participating in local events as a group, some firms have established formal partnerships with neighboring schools and universities. They offer education, mentorship, scholarships, and internships to members of underrepresented groups as well as support of work visas to international employees.

Benjamin Vargas, FAIA, presents a certificate to PBS&J’s Jeffrey Jerrels, AIA. The firm is a recipient of the 2009 AIA Diversity Recognition Program.

Embrace Difference

Recruit individuals who represent a variety of educational, professional, and cultural backgrounds. Make people feel that their differences are valued and that everyone has something unique to offer as people and not just employees. This may go beyond daily work related tasks and lead to opportunities to celebrate these differences through social activities or sharing personal experiences.

Create an Inclusive Environment

Do not equate years of experience with level of leadership and do not restrict efforts such as recruitment and diversity training to Senior staff. Increased communication can improve productivity and lessen confusion. Rather than relying on information to be passed from person to person, create forums for people to provide feedback, whether it’s through team/ firm-wide meetings or satisfaction surveys.

Stop Pigeonholing

Are you placing people in positions that will prevent them from developing new skills and advancing in the firm? Imposing limitations on people is a quick way to lower morale and decrease trust within a staff. Having the ability to enhance skills is important for all employees, but particularly for interns and young architects who attempt to complete a wide range of requirements for licensure and enhance their own professional development.

HOK: Diversity Awareness and Inclusion Initiative – Offices Nationwide

KKE Architects: Architectural Youth Program – Minneapolis, MN

BRR Architecture: Diversity Committee, Support Programs, Leadership Opportunities, and Community Caring Program – Merriam, KS

PBS&J: Diverse Practice – Offices Nationwide

Click here for other recipients of the AIA Diversity Recognition Program.


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