The recent sexual harassment allegations against architect Richard Meier, FAIA, have made it impossible for industry professionals to continue skirting around the issue of harassment within the architecture profession. After news broke of these disturbing claims, Carl Elefante, FAIA, 2018 President of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) responded by saying, "We are deeply troubled by these allegations, and believe that sexual harassment—in any form and in any workplace—should not be tolerated and must be addressed swiftly and forcefully." The AIA released a follow up statement on March 22, addressing the Institute's code of ethics and steps it has taken to help ensure equity within the industry, including the formation of the AIA Diversity Council and Equity in Architecture Commission.
Now, the AIA has released another statement regarding the issue of sexual harassment in the architecture profession—this time outlining ways in which the organization will take action against such behavior.
Read the full statement below:
"We, the members of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), stand together to reshape our profession: to confront those who make the workplace intolerable through harassment and abuse; to give voice to those whose voices are stifled for fear of retaliation; to resolve systemic inequities in our profession that block full access by many who seek it; and to break down cultural, ethnic, racial, and gender barriers that prevent our profession from reflecting the society it serves.
AIA acknowledges that the architectural profession has not yet attained the workplace culture that is required. While AIA has made significant progress in recent years in addressing these issues, we must redouble our efforts. As the voice of the architectural profession, the AIA commits its resources to the following actions to eliminate sexual harassment and assault:
We commit to our responsibility as AIA members. Architects understand what it means to strive for excellence in the buildings we design. It is time for all AIA members to work together to make our workplaces excellent. The AIA commits to educating all members on sexual harassment and gender bias.
We commit to our responsibility as AIA components. The AIA network at the national, state, and local levels must work together to make sexual harassment a thing of the past. The AIA commits to adopting sexual harassment policies in all components and training for all AIA leaders and component staff.
We will promote exemplary workplace practices. There are exemplary firms whose practices deserve recognition. The AIA commits to launching a firm recognition program that celebrates and promotes exemplary workplace, firm culture, and equity practices.
We will change workplace culture. The architectural profession must become a role model for safe, healthy, and equitable work environments. The AIA commits to preparing and distributing equitable workplace best-practice guides for all firms.
We will uphold our professional ethics. All AIA members are bound by the AIA Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. The AIA’s National Ethics Council has been directed by the AIA Board of Directors to recommend updates to the Code of Ethics to address sexual harassment and other equitable workplace principles.
We are committed to a declaration for national awards. The AIA commits to requiring all nominees for AIA national awards to sign a declaration that certifies adherence to the tenets of the AIA Code of Ethics.
We will promote collaboration in the architectural, engineering, and construction industries. The AIA commits to work with our colleagues in the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS), the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), and related organizations in the engineering and construction fields to fully address sexual harassment throughout the construction industry.
In a decade, the face of the profession will change dramatically. What will the future face of architecture look like? Will it equitably represent the society we serve? Our actions today are directed toward an important challenge that we must stand together to overcome.
Architects stand together to reject sexual harassment. Architects stand together to support those who are threatened or abused. Architects stand together to build a model profession that welcomes everyone to safe, healthy, and equitable workplaces. Architects stand together to create a profession that represents the strength and diversity of the communities we serve."
In line with its declaration to "change workplace culture," the AIA also announced today that it has partnered the University of Minnesota to develop "Guides for Equitable Practice," which, according to the Institute, "will provide architects and firms with guidance on best practices in equity, diversity, and inclusion principles, and how those values can be a part of any architectural practice." Read the full press release on the AIA website.