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A positive shift is already happening in practices around the UK – sharing insights will allow us all to learn, improve and inspire

The launch of RIBA’s EDI Leaders Action Group signals a step change towards a more diverse and inclusive culture in architecture, writes Robbie Turner, RIBA’s Director of Inclusion and Diversity.

22 September 2023

The first crucial step towards changing a culture is recognising that things need to change. Sometimes, this requires just a slight adaptation to the way things are being done. Other problems demand widespread and concerted effort – a wholesale break with the status quo. 

In architecture, the data speaks for itself. ARB’s monitoring shows that those with protected characteristics are significantly underrepresented amongst architects compared to the British population at large. How can a profession that does not reflect the society it serves fix the urgent problems that same society faces – delivering a safe and sustainable built environment where we can all survive, live, flourish? 

It was great to join RIBA last year as its Director of Inclusion and Diversity, it was clear to me that there is a strong desire, across the institute and the profession, for us to take a leading role in fostering a more diverse and inclusive culture in architecture. However, despite our unique position as the professional leadership body, the idea that any organisation has the power to transform the culture of a whole profession is, at best, misguided.

In short: we cannot do this alone. 

RIBA Director of Inclusion and Diversity Robbie Turner speaks at the first meeting of the RIBA EDI Leaders Action Group. (Credit: Foster + Partners)

So that’s why I’m delighted to have been part of the inaugural roundtable of a group of leaders with experience in driving meaningful change in EDI across architecture. At the RIBA EDI Leaders Action Group meeting, held at Foster + Partners, we heard how industry professionals are already creating positive cultural change in their own practices. Sharing this valuable insight will allow us all to learn, improve and inspire. 

We recognise the role that RIBA, in its 189-year history, has played in creating and perpetuating inequity. Equally, we recognise the need to act now to create a better future, working with the profession and the wider sector, to drive positive change at pace. By collaborating closely with our members, stakeholders, and colleagues, hope to equip people with the insights, resources and support they need to make practical changes where it counts – in their workplaces.  

The RIBA EDI Leaders Action Group will be a crucial step on this path. Please stay tuned, because there’s more to come!  

Robbie Turner presents at the RIBA EDI Leaders Action Group meeting. (Credit: Foster + Partners)

We spoke to Jess Dunning, Inclusion Coordinator at BDP Architects who attended the roundtable. Jess said: 

"As EDI Coordinator for BDP, I recognise the importance of creating a community of support and a safe space for people to share and work together in the pursuit of diversity within our industry. That is why I felt especially fortunate to recently attend RIBA’s first-ever EDI Leaders Action Group. 

It was an inspiring session, attended by like-minded, passionate, and engaged individuals, all with a joint mission to create a more inclusive industry. Having the right environment to share each other’s progress as well as challenges in each of our roles, all attendees were able to offer solutions and tips and engage in industry-wide knowledge sharing. 

Reflecting on the session, it was comforting to hear that many of us have similar challenges, whilst also hearing about, celebrating, and learning from each other’s successes. It’s exciting to see the positive impact we can create as a group, with the support of RIBA. 

EDI forums are a vital resource for driving positive change across the industry, and a group effort is essential to achieve tangible change. I very much look forward to our next session and shaping the future of a more inclusive industry." 

To find out more about the RIBA EDI Leaders Action Group or to share your experiences of driving positive change contact

Find out more about our EDI work.

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