The London Festival of Architecture (LFA) has launched an anti-discrimination campaign and is calling on the industry to ‘pledge positive actions to stamp it out for good’
The LFA’s Elephant Campaign – aimed at ’tackling the elephant in the room’ – comes in the wake of the scandals about the Las Vegas showgirls at last year’s UK Construction Week and the now notorious male-only Presidents’ Club dinner.
Earlier this month the AJ reported that one in seven women architects had experienced sexual harassment in the past year and more than half of female architects had experienced some type of discrimination.
According to the LFA, the industry’s problems continue ’to be ignored by some [which has resulted] in an identity crisis harming the built environment profession’.
The campaign wants to challenge outdated attitudes and ensure that the property industry is safe and welcoming for everyone.
LFA director Tamsie Thomson said recent events had made clear that the ‘built environment industry must get its house in order’.
She said: ‘How can we expect a more diverse profession if it’s still acceptable for women to be groped, harassed and assaulted in their work environment? How can we expect that profession to deliver for society if it’s not of the society it seeks to serve? As the London Festival of Architecture 2018 explores identity, what can we do to resolve our industry’s identity crisis?
How can we expect a more diverse profession if it’s still acceptable for women to be groped?
She added: ‘When it comes to discrimination, the industry does not have a proud past. There are doubtless countless more stories to emerge of inappropriate and illegal behaviour. For too long it has been the elephant in the room, and those stories should be told. It’s time for the industry to acknowledge its problems, pivot and move on.’
The LFA is asking professionals to pledge to acknowledge the industry’s problem and take action that recognises for key areas:
- Those at the top should recognise the influence they have in creating a culture and lead by example
- Everybody needs to acknowledge that discriminatory behaviour and attitudes remain a problem within the built environment profession
- Everybody needs to feel safe in calling out inappropriate behaviour
- Everybody needs to offer unequivocal support to any colleague if they call out inappropriate behaviour wherever they encounter it.
Jules Pipe, deputy London mayor for planning, regeneration and skills, said: ‘The mayor and I fully support efforts to tackle discrimination, exploitation and harassment in the property and construction industry.
‘We want to see a cultural change in this sector, creating an environment welcoming to people of all backgrounds and reflecting the diversity of the capital. Under-representation of women and minority groups not only denies opportunities in a growing sector, it also poses a wider problem in that those designing our cities do not represent the diversity of the cities themselves.’
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