The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the University of Minnesota today announced the signing of an agreement to develop “Guides for Equitable Practice.” 

“The AIA and the University of Minnesota have been developing this partnership for some time because our profession, like others, is not immune from discrimination and harassment by some of our colleagues in a variety of positions of power,” said Renée Cheng, FAIA, DPACSA. “This guide will help firms avoid some of those mistakes and bring their internal operations more in line with the diverse clients and communities they serve.” 

Based on the recommendations from the AIA Equity in Architecture Commission Report, the guides 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. They will address such issues as career progression, work culture, leadership development, pay equity, talent recruitment and more. Topics under work culture include attention to specific areas such as professional ethics and sexual harassment.

“Though these guides will serve as a vital resource for underrepresented and marginalized architects, it’s our hope they will be an asset to the entire profession will utilize,” said Emily Grandstaff-Rice, FAIA, 2018-2020 AIA At-large Director and Chair of the Equity and the Future of Architecture Committee. “We’re moving toward a more equitable profession and these guides will help us get there.”

The Guides for Equitable Practice will be developed and implemented in three phases, with each phase focusing on three to four chapters of the guidebook. The first phase is planned for completion in late 2018 with subsequent phases and their chapters released every six to eight months.

Development of the guidebook will be a collaborative effort. Cheng leads the University of Minnesota team, which includes Andrea Johnson and Nancy Alexander. AIA Equity and the Future of Architecture Committee will contribute to project leadership and become a critical part of the review process. Cheng, recently named dean of the University of Washington’s College of Built Environments, will continue to lead the guides project at the University of Minnesota through the end of 2018.

The AIA Equity in Architecture Commission, a panel of leading architects, educators, and diversity experts, was formed to address concerns about disproportionate demographics among those in the profession. The Commission’s work ended after it identified the root causes for the lack of diversity and inclusion and offered recommendations on how to address those issues.

As part of other efforts to build a more inclusive profession, the AIA also issued a statement today on the Institute’s values, specifically addressing the issue of sexual harassment.