Change can be hard. Sustentative change requires awareness, comprehension, big ideas, intentional conversations, and consistent work toward goals.
AIA Colorado has made justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (J.E.D.I.) one of its top imperatives, expanding its reach to more people and building a generational legacy of new architects and designers who will design a built environment that will reflect our multi-cultures and provide an opportunity for anyone to dream of a career in architecture.
And in support of that imperative, the organization has been partnering with the National Organization of Minority Architects, NOMA Colorado, to produce a series of J.E.D.I. webinars this summer. The most recent was “Turning Words into Action: J.E.D.I. Resources to Create Meaningful Change.”
So how does one create meaning change in their daily life, firm, and with their sphere of influence?
First, realize that each person has the influence and power to change his or her environment. Working from home or using a hybrid method is an example of the workforce being a catalyst for change. Don’t expect those around you to necessarily spur change. Create a space for respectful dialogue and be prepared to engage more meaningfully if needed.
Second, identify the barriers to effectively incorporate change. Said Tourtellotte, “One of the biggest barriers is fear. Take a stance.” But do act humbly and take feedback if there are missteps. “See something. Say something,” she said.
Next, invite an understanding of terminology and words brought up in discussions. “Get on the same page on the meaning of terms,” said Malik. These words could be equity, inclusion, racism, bias, and unconscious bias, among others. She later said this dialogue will open the door to an even deeper conversation.
Another step is to spur leaders to become aware and have intentional conversations toward change. Budget and time will point towards what is valued. “Show me your budget and it will tell me what you value,” said Holland.
Does the employee handbook create the ability to expand J.E.D.I. concepts into change at your firm? Do annual reviews reflect justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion goals? Maybe your hiring procedures and policies need to be updated. Do your billable hours offer a J.E.D.I. category? Each of these practices reflect meaningful change. Is your firm ready to make these changes.
Finally, consider establishing a baseline J.E.D.I. data point and tracking quantitative progress with qualitative meaning. Assign tasks for different J.E.D.I. categories and provide quarterly reports. Preset findings to your entire company, customers, and clients. But make sure this data tracking leads to meaningful conversation and change. Be authentic. As Zindren said, “Be a culture of candor. Know it because you feel it.”
AIA Colorado champions these changes, as creating a larger table for everyone to gather, converse, and design yields a better Colorado and community. Please listen to this webinar and join the J.E.D.I. conversation!