Built environment bodies commit to three-year equity and diversity action plan

Built environment bodies commit to three-year equity and diversity action plan

The six membership bodies will work to deliver the plan over the next three years

In a move towards ensuring the built environment is more representative of the society it serves, six leading membership bodies have launched a 45-point action plan to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive sector.

The action plan has been developed by a dedicated working group, with representatives from:

  • The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)
  • The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB)
  • The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE)
  • The Landscape Institute (LI)
  • The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
  • The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI)

It sets out how all six organisations, collectively representing 350,000 members, will work together to deliver the three objectives (Data collection; Improving understanding of transition from education into employment; and EDI standards) of the Memorandum of Understanding (PDF), signed on 26 April 2022.

The plan details outcomes, target deadlines, required resources and responsibilities, enabling each organisation to clearly track progress and accountability.

Example actions include:

Data collection

By the end of 2022, organisations will agree on a set of consistent core questions and data points to collect across the UK, alongside consistent messaging to encourage the collective membership to share demographic data. This will enable organisations to publish data on the diversity of membership in a consistent manner by April 2024, thereby formulating a clear picture across the built environment to identify gaps and inform targeted actions.

Improving understanding of transition from education into employment

Throughout 2023, groups of recently qualified students will be convened to consult on experiences, alongside 50 employers with graduate programmes to better understand the challenges they face with recruiting and retaining a diverse graduate workforce. Sourcing this evidence will help to improve collective understanding of retention rates and awarding gaps in education.

EDI standards

Organisations will survey and report on the EDI CPD training they currently offer by November 2022 to identify gaps. This feeds into the goal of creating a consistent core EDI curricular for the collective membership by February 2024.

The action plan also places emphasis on the ongoing role of the governance and leadership to ensure success. It stresses the significance of aligning visions and strategies with EDI principles, values, beliefs, and the lived experience of the people working within the sector.

RIBA CEO, Alan Vallance, said: “I am really encouraged by the momentum of this critical cross-sector programme to tackle the systemic barriers that perpetuate discrimination and underrepresentation. This comprehensive, robust action plan provides us with a roadmap for change, against which we can collectively track our progress. It clearly relies on the senior level support from across each of the organisations – RIBA has made this commitment clear. I am inspired by this collaborative approach and confident that we can continue to drive forward change at a faster and more effective rate.”

Victoria Hills, chief executive of the RTPI, said: “To make meaningful change we need a plan, and we need to take concerted, purposeful action. I am really pleased that just three months after agreeing the MoU with our built environment sector friends, we are now able to anchor it with these clear, realistic, and timetabled actions. These actions will help us to better understand our profession and the sector better and crucially help us to develop the targeted interventions that will deliver a fair and inclusive culture.

Improving the quality of the data we collect on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) sits at the heart of this action plan. Trusted Good, robust data is essential to make progress on EDI goals. Transparency and accountability are both pillars for improving EDI and these cannot be achieved without data. With this Action Plan we will be able to make change and adhere to principles of transparency and accountability.”

“It’s very encouraging and exciting to see the impetus behind the MoU signing in April translate into measurable, targeted action in these few short months,” said LI chief executive Sue Morgan.

“We know there’s a severe skills shortage in the built environment sector. But the problem runs deeper: there’s also a marked lack of diversity. To transform the world for the better, we must understand and represent the interests and experiences of all the communities we serve.”

Ms Morgan added: “There’s so much untapped potential out there,’ Sue continued. ‘Understanding the gaps between education and practice; sharing and standardising data; setting clear standards for how we make our sector an accessible and welcoming career choice for everyone – these are all vital goals, and it’s terrific to see our organisations coming together to achieve them.

“This cross-sector approach is exactly the sort of initiative we need to see to change things for the better. I am sure that with our joint resources and collective passion, our organisations will make this a success – and I hope that it will set a high benchmark for future collaboration too.”

The six membership bodies will now work together to deliver the action plan over the next three years, with annual progress reviews from senior leadership taking place every February.

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