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UK architects are 94 per cent white

New figures released last week show that the ethnicity of the profession is becoming increasingly white

According to the RIBA and Fees Bureau’s 2012 Employment and Earnings Survey, nearly 94 per cent of architects are white, compared with 93.3 per cent last year.

Black British architects account for 0.9 per cent of the profession, down from 1.2 per cent in 2008, while the proportion of Asian architects has increased from 1.8 per cent in 2008 to 2.5 per cent. In contrast, about 11 per cent of solicitors are from black and ethnic minority backgrounds, according to a 2011 Law Society report.

The findings show an above-average representation when compared with the 2001 census, where 91 per cent of the UK population is described as white. Ethnicity data for the 2011 census has yet to be published.

In London, where the survey shows about 38 per cent of architects are based, ethnic minorities account for about 31 per cent of the capital’s population.

Black architecture student Jean-Paul Tugirimana said: ‘The findings, of course, are disappointing but, unfortunately, it is not only the architectural profession with problems of discrimination and inequality. It is true black and Asian architectural students struggle more than others in finding employment. The 1 per cent of black architects in employment and earning is contradictory to the numbers of black students in architectural education. These figures seem a world away from the diversity within my college and workplace.’

ARB chair Beatrice Fraenkel said taking steps to boost diversity was a ‘step in the right direction’ and called on architects to deploy equal opportunities policies.

She said: ‘Anything that could increase the diversity of the profession is a step in the right direction. We would certainly encourage firms to have an equal opportunities policy.’

Chris Williamson of Weston Williamson said the poor representation of ethnic minorities within the profession was something all architects should work to fix. He said: ‘It would be good to see all parts of society, clubs and professions mirror the ethnic and gender split in the country. Sadly, this is not the case.’

Readers' comments (2)

  • John Kellett

    Was the 'poll' taken of a 'representative sample' or an actual figure based on the register directly?
    As a profession we can only encourage those from a 'minority' to start the course and it would be illegal to discriminate (negatively or positively) any applications for employment. As long as someone is qualified to do the job, can legally work in the UK and can communicate clearly in English I will always choose the one most qualified for the work. Any other aspects of their appearance or background are irrelevant.
    However, if only a very small number of 'minorities' take the 'A' levels and degree courses required there will only ever be very few in the profession.
    I've always found discrimination in society with such issues as height, weight, left-handedness and age etc! Each on their own are relatively minor irritations of course but.......

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