Wanda Lau

Established in 2017, AIA’s Equity and the Future of Architecture (EQFA) Committee has a long to-do list, generated from 11 recommendations made by its predecessor, AIA’s Commission on Equity in Architecture. One such recommendation was the development of a series of guides to help individuals, design firms, and organizations understand the value of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in the profession and incorporate EDI into their everyday work and the industry at large. Yesterday, AIA announced the public release of three individual guides within the collective Guides for Equitable Practice on its website; these sections were initially available upon request in November.

Developed with a research team at the University of Minnesota, which AIA selected as a collaborator following an RFP process in 2018, the available sections include an introduction on EDI and the guides to intercultural competence, workplace culture, and compensation within firms. AIA and the university expect to release subsequent chapters that address talent recruitment, negotiation, networking, career progression, community engagement, and accountability later this year, for a total of nine guides.

“We know there’s more work to be done to shape the profession to be more equitable and accessible,” said AIA EQFA committee chair Emily Grandstaff-Rice, FAIA, in AIA’s press release. “These guides frame the conversation and provide actionable items for individuals, firms and allies. Achieving this vision has a direct impact on the relevance of our profession and our work.”

The guides are each formatted as a distinct package, allowing users to read them discretely or in sequence, and in no required order. Each package walks readers through a topic, beginning from the essentials—definitions, impact, and desired outcomes—to pragmatic details—legal issues, assessment criteria, recommended actions, and considerations—and finally to additional resources. Personal experiences, collected by researchers in interviews and workshops from a diverse group of 24 architects and designers, are peppered throughout the guide in the form of pithy quotes and gut-churning narratives and offer a firsthand, behind-the-façade look at each topic’s contribution to achieving EDI in the profession.