2020 was a year of challenges for all of us, but in that year we have found opportunities to grow building a stronger foundation on which to develop in 2021. At OZ Architecture, we are taking Black History Month to reflect on the diversity of our practice, profession, and staff and to dedicate ourselves to improving these conditions.
Diversity in the field of architecture has been a long standing challenge that is not limited to the Denver Area. Nation-wide 2% of licensed architects in the United States are Black or African American and less than 1 in 5 new architects identify as a racial or ethnic minority, according to the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. At OZ Architecture, 1.5% of our architectural staff is Black or African American and 12% of our staff and 17% of our principal group are of a racial or ethnic minority. We recognize that this is below the national average and are working to improve.
In 2021, we are committing to
• Mentor youth, architectural students, and young architects from ethnically diverse communities and schools to eliminate barriers for future generations of new architects;
• Support architectural education through the Tom Obermyer Scholarship Fund and support staff to serve on the jury of diversity scholarships like the Architect’s Foundation Diversity Advancement Scholarship to decrease the financial hardship of architectural education;
• Promote staff participation in the AIA Colorado J-EDI Committee and the efforts of the committee to open the minds of community members about the issues and barriers to increasing diversity of the profession;
• Educate our team members about the terms and principles of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice by offering training on topics like biases, running inclusive meetings, and allyship and inclusivity in the workplace to make the workplace more supportive of out true and authentic selves; and
• Review internal policies and guidelines, 401k investment options for the impacts to social equity and justice, and recruiting opportunities as we look to hire new staff to increase inclusivity and equity of staff.