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AJ’s race diversity survey: ‘Taking part has never been more important’

The AJ, in partnership with the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, has launched a new survey to gather up-to-date evidence on race diversity within architecture

Click here to take the survey

The move comes two years after the AJ's first investigation of the issues, the results of which painted a picture of a profession struggling with unacknowledged racism whereby architects from Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds felt the colour of their skin hindered their career. 

Comments returned by the 877 UK-based respondents to the 2018 questionnaire – the first of its kind in architecture – gave a unique insight into the ongoing challenges faced by many non-white architects (see Race Diversity Survey: is architecture in denial?).

With people from BAME backgrounds still making up less than 7 per cent of all registered architects, the AJ is now repeating its survey to see whether attitudes have shifted over the last two years. 

Sonia Watson, chief executive of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust said revisiting the issues through a relaunched survey had 'never been more important' – especially given the backdrop of the current coronavirus crisis.

Watson said: 'The reasons we lack full diversity in architecture are numerous and they are increasingly fluid, ranging from the cost of studying through to the need for more mentoring, and these factors now risk being exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the unfolding economic crisis. To allow this to happen, though, would only store up problems for the future.'

Last month Doreen Lawrence, the mother of aspiring architect Stephen Lawrence, who died in a racially motivated attack 27 years ago, was asked by the Labour Party to lead a review into the impact of coronavirus on black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

It is understood the review will look at why there has been a 'disproportionate toll' on those from ethnic minority backgrounds during the crisis.

The AJ survey is open to everyone, regardless of race or ethnicity, and will ask you questions about your experiences in the industry and your response to various statements.

The results will be published in July.

Click here to take the survey

A call to take part: Sonia Watson, chief executive of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust

People from BAME backgrounds make up less than 7 per cent of registered architects. In reality the number of practising architects is half that percentage, while the population is 13 per cent BAME. There are two main things wrong with this. Firstly, architecture has a social responsibility and an ever more evident business imperative, as do all industries, to ensure artificial barriers to equal opportunities to enter the profession are tackled in order to ensure spaces and places designed for diverse communities are informed by the communities they serve.

Secondly, the profession is missing a trick by not being as diverse as it ought to be. Diversity in ethnicity means diversity of experience, true representation of inclusive thoughts and ideas, representative of the communities they serve. Democratic places and buildings can only and should only be designed by a representative and democratically formed workforce of architects and built environment professionals.

The reasons we lack full diversity in architecture are numerous and they are increasingly fluid, ranging from the cost of studying through to the need for more mentoring, and these factors now risk being exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and unfolding economic crisis. To allow this to happen, though, would only store up problems for the future.

If we want to move forward now, we need to understand in detail where we are two years on from the AJ’s last survey, why we are here and what we need to do to effect meaningful and pervasive change. That is why repeating this robust survey, has never been more important. Thank you to everyone, in advance, for taking part.

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