International Women's Day 2017March 2017
Happy International Women's Day!
While we shouldn’t need a day to celebrate the achievements of women, it’s nice to have the opportunity to reflect on the many and varied ways in which women contribute to our lives – both professionally and personally. In particular it is important to celebrate the achievements of our female SJB peers across all of the areas of our business, whether in professional or support roles. We should all take the opportunity to say well done!
We pride ourselves in leading a workplace which is based on a number of fundamental moral principles, one of which is providing an equitable workplace. Since establishment of the practice we have been engaged in ensuring that our workplace provides space for a diverse group of people to contribute to the practice of architecture, planning, urban and interior design. Over the last few years SJB has worked to cement this commitment through our active engagement with both CareerTrackers and CareerSeekers. These are organisations which support the betterment of marginalised peoples and who we rely on to provide us with guidance and expertise so that we are better able to meet our moral obligations in striving for a fairer and better world. We are particularly proud to be one of the CareerTrackers 10x10 founding partners.
However, in acknowledging and reflecting on this work and through an appreciation of the staff make-up of our offices we have come to understand a number of imbalances, specifically from a gender equity perspective. While we do not believe we have ever actively limited opportunities for women within our business, we find ourselves, 40 years after founding, with a female to male Director ratio of 16% women to 84% men. This is not good. If we look more broadly across the offices we achieve parity when we consider all employees as a single group – but this does not tell the real story. With university participation rates of men and women across the built environment sectors we represent being equal, why then does our equity drop off once our employees reach Associate level or higher? And what can we do to redress this?
In the pursuit of our commitment to achieving gender parity at all levels of our business by 2025, we have committed to undertaking a yearly review from a gender equity position, to ask ourselves, ‘if not, why not?’.
Achieving gender equity within our work place is a challenge. Over 40 years we have relied on a fluid and unstructured approach to achieving gender equity. It hasn’t worked. It would be naïve of us to think we can solve it overnight. However with an understanding of both individual circumstance and business challenges, we believe that small changes over time have the potential of achieving quantifiable outcomes. As our first commitment we will be undertaking this gender equity review across our business every year. It will be our way of tracking our successes and failures. We will also be integrating some new workplace guidelines, to cover in particular Flexible Working and Family and Domestic Violence, so that we might be more able to meet your needs as employees - female and male.