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‘Years of lost hope for diversity’

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Senior figures at the RIBA have admitted that there is a lack of information regarding the number of black and minority-ethnic people working in architecture

In the same week as the 10th annual Stephen Lawrence Memorial Lecture, it has emerged that the ARB has yet to gather and publish information on the ethnic backgrounds of architects, despite the fact that the register covers the entire UK profession. The ARB has said it will collect the data within the next three years.

For the last nine years the RIBA has published statistics on the number of black and minority-ethnic architects, based on a sample of 2,500 individuals, but senior sources have indicated a reluctance towards a full audit. Angela Brady, president-elect, supported the call for more data.

Faheem Aftab, director of A-Cube Architects and a member of CABE’s Inclusion by Design team, said: ‘Effectively it’s 10 years of lost hope for the diversity campaign. For the last decade people have been doing stuff and nobody knows if it has made a difference.’

The revelation comes 10 years after the inaugural Stephen Lawrence Memorial Lecture, commemorating the black teenager (pictured) who aspired to become an architect but was murdered in 1993.

The issue was raised by speakers at last week’s memorial lecture, which included London mayor Boris Johnson and mayoral hopeful Oona King. King said: ‘If you cannot produce the stats you mask the facts.’

Former RIBA president Sunand Prasad said: ‘Collecting data is such an easy thing to do, people should just do it, but not having data should not be a reason for inaction.’

Prasad added: ‘You can’t understand disadvantage through race without understanding disadvantage through class.’

A spokesperson for the Equality and Human Rights Commission said: ‘While there is currently no legal obligation on most organisations to monitor and report on their staff profile, collecting data on race and ethnicity is good business practice.’

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