Imani Day: Let’s Get Real About Diversity

By Imani Day

Featured in Architect Magazine

Though architecture firms may purport to champion diversity, their claims often fall flat when questioned for actual examples and data.

In architecture, we use the term “diversity” in a few ways: to illustrate the breadth of work we do, to demonstrate different perspectives as we problem-solve, and to illuminate the range of expertise and experiences we bring to the table. While many architects intuitively understand the economic benefits of diversified project teams, when directly asked to provide actual examples and data, firms often scramble and land on deploying my favorite term: diversity of thought.

It’s a loaded expression, this kind of diversity. Across industries, corporations have exploited diversity of thought, or the equally hollow sound bite “cognitive diversity,” in lieu of confronting their lack of cultural, gender, or racial diversity. In truth, any company with at least two employees with two differing opinions can claim diversity of thought as a core value. However, in our thoroughly globalized society, that bar appears to be awfully low. The notion that cognitive diversity is testament enough undermines the importance of addressing the disparities of representation within the profession.

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