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Number of black and ethnic minority architects drops

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The number of black and ethnic minority architectural professionals (BAME) fell by 9.4 per cent last year, according to new research

A report into the creative industries produced by The Creative Industries Federation (CIF), in partnership with the MOBO organisation, found that in 2013 there were 133,000 white members of the profession compared to just 9,000 from BAME backgrounds.

The Federation classes the profession as architects, town planning officers, chartered architectural technologists and architectural and town planning technicians.

The report said that architectural practices were missing out on business opportunities by failing to make the most of ethnic minorities in the workplace.

It said: ‘White men are not the only people to use buildings - so diversifying architecture (although potentially more difficult than other industries) could allow companies to understand new markets and move ahead of the competition.’

The report suggested that the lack of diversity in the profession could be due to the cost of architectural training.

It said: ‘An architectural education lasts seven years and leaves students with debts in excess of £50,000. It makes sense, then, that this would limit the groups interested in it as a career.’

In addition, the study found that although the number of female architects rose by 1.7 per cent between 2013/14 and 2014/15, the rise was outstripped by a 9.9 per cent rise in the number of males.

However student figures showed that there was some hope for the future in terms of gender equality, according to the report.

It said: ‘Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) UK chartered memberships (practising architects with RIBA qualifications) include just 17.6 per cent women.

‘Their student membership is 44.3 per cent women, which may herald a new diverse architectural landscape to come - but the phenomenon of women training and then dropping out due to sexist attitudes, low or unequal pay, and inflexible working hours, is well documented.’

The report suggested a number of ways that architectural practices could increase diversity among staff, including adopting a hiring strategy and carrying out internal audits and training.

John Kampfner, chief executive of the CIF, said: “This study not only exposes the existing social inequalities in the creative industries workforces but shows that there are hard-headed economic reasons for tackling them. ‘A more diverse workforce is good for organisations and key to accelerating growth.

‘The most forward-looking organisations have already acted to ensure their staff more accurately reflect the population.’

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Targeting schools through work experience days could also encourage younger people from more diverse backgrounds to consider this as a future career, giving them familiarity of the kind of work involved and the office environment.

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