Each year, International Women’s Day provides an opportunity for us to celebrate the achievements of women across the world. It also offers time to reflect on how far we have come in creating gender parity.
With the theme of year’s International Women’s Day being ‘Balance for Better’ we took the opportunity to look at how we are creating balance, both within practice and the wider industry, and to consider what more we need to do to create an environment where everyone is represented and experiences equal opportunities.
• Women represent 40% of our staff.
• 33% of registered architects within the practice are women. In comparison, 27% of ARB registered architects in the UK are female (according to the ARB annual report 2017)
• 44% of new hires were women (calculated in the period between March 2018 – March 2019)
However, we understand that to create a truly inclusive workplace, we need to create a company culture that supports equality for all staff. That’s why:
• We have created a working environment that embraces agility, allowing staff to balance a meaningful career with family and other commitments. We have flexible start and finish times and staff have the option to work more hours over fewer days. They can also work from home, and we offer part-time arrangements.
• We actively support shared parental leave for all staff
• We offer personal development for all staff through an ongoing programme of in-house CPD, supplemented by training tailored to individual needs. We also enable employees to study towards qualifications on a day-release basis
• In June 2018, we signed the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Working Forward pledge, demonstrating our continued commitment to making the practice the best place it can be for working parents and parents to be.
We also believe that as a practice, we have a responsibility to help more people, regardless of gender, education or background, access opportunities in the industry. As a result, we actively support organisations and initiatives that aim to improve diversity across the architectural and construction industries:
• Chithra Marsh, Associate Director, is Chair of The Association of Women in Property’s North West branch, leading a programme of events, professional CPDs and networking opportunities aimed at inspiring change for women working in the property and construction industry.
• We are one of the first professional organisations to support PLACED Academy, a new programme aimed at inspiring the next generation of place makers from the North West. The Academy allows students in Years 10, 11 and 12 the opportunity to work alongside industry professionals to gain real career insight.
• We are involved in Regeneration Brainery, a five-day programme that allows young people to see how varied careers in the property industry can be through engaging in group projects, talks from mentors, office and sites visits.
• Several members of staff volunteer to give talks in schools, take part in mock interview training and provide careers advice to support aspiring built environment professionals. We also offer a rolling programme of work experience and internships to give school and university students real life insight into life in practice.
Director, Stephen Anderson said: “From encouraging work life balance among staff to creating an environment where every individual and their contribution is valued, we recognise that balance drives a better working world.
“We have implemented policies that seek to make the studio inclusive and supportive, and we are proud to partner with initiatives that challenge the status quo and work to bring about change. However, while we are seeing a welcome growth in the number of women and people from diverse backgrounds joining the practice, and the industry more generally, we remain committed to developing solutions and creating opportunities that will create a culture of complete inclusion in the long term.”
Associate Director, Chithra Marsh, added: “While the industry has made great progress in addressing imbalance in the workforce, we know that many hurdles still need to be overcome. To address these challenges, we need adopt a transparent and collaborative approach. We hope that by sharing our practices and experiences we can make a positive contribution to the wider conversation on balance in the workplace.”