A new Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Equality Task Force (ETF) has been established to co-ordinate RIBA equality and diversity initiatives during 2007, bringing together the RIBA's equal opportunities group 'Architects for Change', RIBA staff, specialist external advisers, and funding partners.
The ETF will operate on the basis established by the 'Architects for Change' Executive, providing stimulus, support and linkage across a range of RIBA initiatives.
These include the VP Education Initiative for widening participation through improved opportunities to 'learn while you earn' and other work-based learning initiatives; the RIBA Chartered Practices scheme; Career Break CPD and the new 'Returning to Practice' programme.
George Ferguson, RIBA past-president and EFT leader said:
"This is not a talking shop. I am prepared to take this on because of my passionate belief that it is good for architecture to be practiced by a much broader representation of our various communities rather than for any token reasons of political correctness. Thanks to the stimulus and efforts of 'Architects for Change' and the leadership of RIBA Council, equal opportunities and employment policies are in place, and services and initiatives that build on them are now being rolled out. But it is evident that there is so much more we need to do to make significant change across the profession, and the ETF provides us with a window of opportunity to do so."
'Architects for Change' co-chair, and ETF adviser, Samir Pandya said:
"The ETF's aim is to prioritise areas for action and make real, positive, and practical change to benefit all in the profession. In terms of where we would like to be in say, 5-10 years, down the line, we are aiming at:
a wider participation in entry to education and the profession, in terms of a gender balance and ethic/cultural/socio-economic diversity that is more representative of the society architects serve;
improved equality and diversity amongst those completing academic and professional qualifications;
improved awareness, and a more informed understanding, of diversity amongst educators, employers and professional networks and
diversity visible at ALL levels of organisations, through improved equality of opportunity.
"I see the ETF as building on firm foundations, namely: the RIBA's 'Why do Women Leave Architecture?' research, adopted by RIBA Council; CABE's studies 'Minority Ethnic Students of Architecture' (2003) and 'Minority Ethnic Representation in Construction Industry Professions' (2005), and the work of the Centre for Education in the Built Environment /AFC project on 'Supporting Student Diversity in UK Schools of Architecture' (2006)".
The ETF currently has 3 seminar style meetings and 2 networking events lined up for 2007, and aims to generate and publish information and guidance material on the RIBA website. The ETF will also work with RIBA staff teams to secure funding and partners to pilot mentoring for 'vulnerable' career stages and groups in the profession, and to research and publish practical case studies that will give architects the confidence and know how to reap the benefits of improving diversity in their own staff and project teams and working practices.
The EFT leadership team comprises RIBA past-president George Ferguson, past ARB Vice-Chair, Susan Ware, and academic and student learning services specialist, Joanna Bailey, from Kingston School of Architecture.
The RIBA Equality Task Force will hold its first meeting at the end of May.