Let's Chat Workforce Diversity

RE: ACE | PIPELINE TO INDUSTRY-WIDE workforce diversity

By TIFFANY MILLNER

Hey!
Let’s work together to build a pipeline for a more diverse workforce into the design and construction industry…

This discussion is being championed, analyzed and promoted today by numerous professional disciplines and organizations across the nation.  But, are all these individual groups just silos that further perpetuate the lack of diversity in our industry? This is an industry-wide conversation and we must work together in order to attract the best and brightest to the design and construction industry as a whole.

As an African-American female architect, I daily engage in a conversation about diversity in the design and construction industry. And, as the Affiliate Director of a non-profit organization dedicated to building a diverse pipeline into this industry, the conversation becomes the air I breathe. 

Building a strong pipeline into the industry and creating bridges of access to largely untapped populations – women, people of color, and individuals in underserved communities – are essential. As professionals we need to build bridges and serve as mentors, sponsors, cheerleaders and advocates for the future generations of our industry.

This is not just a job for Architects, Contractors or Engineers.
It’s a job for everyone.

Exposure and access to the design and construction industry are essential for the development of a diverse workforce having the sensitivity, cultural competence and ability to provide a voice in response to the needs of different communities. In this regard, diverse or equitable design practices will equate to a more profitable business model and practice. The client base that we serve will be ever evolving over time. The design and construction industry will need to evolve and develop new approaches relating to and serving the needs of an all-inclusive audience.

Psst!
I have a secret…
Magic happens through diverse collaborations.

The ACE (Architecture, Construction, Engineering) Mentor Program is steadily expanding and giving Philadelphia youth access and exposure to the design and construction industry, but we are only as powerful as our mentor base and resources available for engaging our students. As an industry we need to establish a firm foundation that includes exposure, informational tools and the professional guidance required for students to even consider the design and construction industry as a viable career direction. Our industry needs to become more relatable and accessible to younger people, in order to introduce them to industry careers and to create more informed future clients. The ACE program provides exposure to all industries involved in the design and construction industry by encouraging diverse collaborations between students and professional mentors.

With ACE, it’s not just about getting students into an office and giving PowerPoint presentations, it’s about creating a professional culture that includes many different experiences and perspectives – from various career paths and a diverse mentor base. Students are given an overview of each discipline associated with our industry coupled with hands-on activities or real-world experiences to reinforce the lessons crafted by project-based learning objectives. By exposing students to all facets of the industry, ACE provides the tools they need to make informed decisions regarding their post-secondary educational goals – hopefully within an A-C-E related profession…

The future of our industry will rely on the diversity of creative thinkers.

Beyond ACE, youth and community engagement initiatives are increasing among the plethora of design and construction projects in Philadelphia. Real estate developers are beginning to think outside of the box and encourage visibility and access to projects impacting our existing communities. Community-based revitalization projects become beneficial to all parties involved as developers open the lines of communication with the community and create trust for the development/construction process while providing a structured environment for educational opportunities.

The design and construction industry has been slow to welcome diversity, yet its mission is to create a built environment that responds to the needs of a diverse humanity. To fulfill this mission, the industry must create a workforce that reflects the diversity of society. A diverse workforce will generate a sympathetic design conscience.

It’s really this simple.
So, let’s work together to make this happen!

—Tiffany