Diversity and Team Building

I believe that building a diverse team is also building a platform for success for both the team and the individual. A diverse team generates an environment of innovation and ideas and creates a positive energy that breeds success.

Team leaders and decision makers can most effectively change firm culture by building diverse and inclusive teams of individuals from varied economic backgrounds, ethnicities, and cultures. Leaders in the position to influence hiring practices affect the careers of our young people. They have the critical responsibility of developing firmwide behaviors that are consistently equitable, inclusive and supportive of disadvantaged and under-represented individuals and communities.

How can we be more equitable and inclusive and provide greater opportunities and create an ethos of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace? I offer a few thoughts for consideration.

Platform

Providing opportunities for young diverse communities can be done in many ways: through mentoring practices, the provision of sponsorship and scholarship opportunities providing greater access to education, the implementation of strategic recruiting practices that engage a more diverse range of workers and include entry level internships as well as job opportunities for young professionals. I can say from my personal experience that opportunities and mentoring provided to me have aided my career trajectory and development. I was provided the opportunities to study, a platform at work with a clear career path to success, and was mentored by leaders who did not see background, race, economic strata or immigrant status as a question mark.

Education

We should advocate for and be a part of providing technical education in community colleges, and local technical schools and programs. This will allow greater access for diverse minority and disadvantaged communities, and students who may not have the means and access to get technical education at the large well-known institutions. The large established schools can be financially out of reach for many students. By creating a wider and more diverse talent pool, the beneficiaries of greater access to relevant education are both the aspiring students and the companies searching for talent.

Recruiting

Many firms recruit aggressively and hire young professionals and interns right out of school. Often, this recruiting is limited to well-known regional and national institutions. Consideration should be given to extending the recruitment outreach to smaller local design schools and community colleges with more economically diverse student bodies. This will lead to engaging talent from a wider section of our communities.

Hire Diversity

Establish diversity goals and motivate staffers to meet or exceed them. One suggested benchmark is to set a goal of at least 50% of your team to be composed of women, minorities, and other disadvantaged individuals. This will go a long way to developing a future diverse industry workforce and leadership.

Be an Influencer

Influence your immediate network and search out organizations that are in alignment with your values. Collaborate with like-minded organizations and advocate for change toward DEI goals. The wider the influencer network the faster we will build a more equitable industry workplace.

We must build an inclusive and diverse industry workforce for the next generation. The younger generation is demanding change and we must act to affect that change. It will take our collective effort to make it happen.

These are my views on how we as professionals can influence our industry to be more inclusive and equitable. My own career has benefited from some of the ideas discussed above and form the basis of further conversation.


Photo of Sanjeev Tankha, AIA, LEED AP

Sanjeev Tankha, AIA, LEED AP

Principal and CEO

Starq Design

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