Moving towards workplace equity

Grimshaw is one of the practices that is leading the field when it comes to gender equality. This case study explains how...

At Grimshaw we welcome people from all backgrounds and recognise that in order to be successful as a practice, we must create an inclusive environment where everyone can realise their potential and succeed.

As a creative practice, we are only as good as our people, therefore we know how important it is that we recruit and retain the best possible people. The ‘best’ is the widest possible mix of voices and reflects the mix of voices across our society.

For us, Gender Equality has been an ongoing learning process which has yielded positive results and a level of introspection that has been incredibly powerful in making the practice more inclusive and equal for everyone that works here.

Umbrella Diversity and Inclusion Group

Grimshaw has set up an umbrella diversity and inclusion group, to enable discussion, learning and to ensure our practice principles are reviewed by multiple perspectives at every stage of their career, enabling us to constantly learn and evolve. This Umbrella group provides support and leadership for our smaller groups which create focus and support, currently these groups are:

  • Women in Architecture
  • LGBT+A
  • MEGA (multi ethnic group + allies)

However, we recognise that for equity in practice we need to listen to the many individual perspectives that need a voice, as well as the intersectionality between all these groups – which is a key role of the Umbrella group.

  • Grimshaw London office

Continual monitoring

Grimshaw set up eight Gender Equality principles in 2016, and the key to the success of these principles was in establishing our key aims and review of these, to ensure we constantly challenge and improve our gender equality. Continual measuring, on a quarterly basis, ensures we are always cognisant of impacts on our gender equality across our practice.

Gender Equality Principles

The eight Grimshaw principles summarise the key aspects needed to achieve and maintain gender equality, these are:

  1. Diversity Introduce a Diversity Advocate in each location who will oversee, manage, measure and advocate for diversity.
  2. Recruitment Enact recruitment processes to promote diversity and greater gender parity at Grimshaw.
  3. Project opportunities Introduce a more formal procedure to record our processes to promote equal opportunity at Grimshaw.
  4. Business opportunities Improve our external representation as a diverse and inclusive organisation.
  5. Training, mentoring and advocacy Promote female uptake of our training and mentoring programmes.
  6. Parental Policies Develop and communicate the enhanced benefits package that Grimshaw offers our employees.
  7. Transparency and feedback Clearly articulate our diversity programme, our procedures, decision making process and progress. Seek feedback internally and externally to ensure procedures remain up to date, relevant and targeted.
  8. Salary and Promotion Introduce more formal structure to support career progression within Grimshaw.

Next steps

These eight principles have been really successful in creating meaningful change towards gender equality, we are now over 50% female but realise we still have work to do to create female representation at the most senior levels.

We are broadening these principles out to include BAME and LGBT+ perspectives to ensure we challenge, review and create equity in these areas. We know we need to give BAME issues more attention and we are working on our key actions to drive change, remove barriers, to improve our BAME representation and create the inclusive workplace and profession we strive for.