As we all know, the world has been upended over the past few months, with successive struggles further exposing deep societal problems in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, the COVID-19 pandemic, and gross economic inequality, among others. In support of the Black Lives Matter movement and identifying the best real actions we can take to address all forms of discrimination and systemic inequality in the AEC industry, we have undertaken a period of serious reflection upon our role as an organization that is a forum for supporting the humane growth of cities—one that should prioritize the health, safety, and welfare of all of its residents. We have reflected on how we can not only fulfill our mission—engaging colleagues with best-practice, multidisciplinary information in order to shape smarter, more sustainable cities—but address issues of gross inequality that permeate the urban environments of millions too, exemplified most recently by acts of racially-charged violence, but which also affect intersecting identities and backgrounds.
We cannot truly advocate for sustainable vertical urbanism without addressing what that means for all people. We ask ourselves and our industry how we can hold ourselves accountable to encourage environments that are safer, healthier, and more accessible for everyone. Too much of the AEC industry has focused on views of the majority, to its detriment, and there is much work to be done to make it more inclusive, diverse, and intersectional.
Thus, as we consider the role of our work and the industry in the representation of marginalized voices, we as an organization would like to announce our commitment to the following initial actions:
Convene an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee, which will facilitate the Council’s desire to foster a welcoming environment and promote a community of respect that honors the humanity of all. The EDI Committee will create interventions that establish minimum targets for diverse representation among all groups and initiatives under the CTBUH banner, including staff, conference speakers, volunteers, and steering committees across our entire organization and programming.
Work alongside the EDI Committee to especially include greater diversity of speakers at our events, including racial and gender diversity, LGBTQIA+ representation, and people of different ages, socioeconomic backgrounds, and other underrepresented identities in the AEC industry. This will involve not only expanding our outreach strategy for speaker opportunities, but addressing internal factors such as the topics we cover, access barriers, and making our environments, both digital and physical, welcoming to diverse perspectives from our under-represented colleagues across the globe.
Establish partnerships with organizations such as NOMA (National Organization of Minority Architects), Paradigm Network, and WiSE (Women in Structural Engineering) collaborating to establish more inclusive dialogues at our events and in our offices.
Form and obtain funding for scholarships to support specifically the involvement of students and young professionals of diverse backgrounds across numerous CTBUH initiatives. Pursue partnerships with programs like ACE (Architecture Construction Engineering) mentor program to connect with professionals interested in the Council’s mission.
The Council will also administer a scholarship fund to support the attendance of students from marginalized backgrounds in the forthcoming Master’s Degree in Tall Buildings and Vertical Urbanism program at Illinois Institute of Technology.
We appreciate that our members have always given us constructive feedback and we acknowledge that our events and other initiatives could be more representative of the wider community that we serve. We are committed to taking steps towards achieving this. This is not just about creating one committee or launching one program, but about fundamentally changing the way that we work and operate. As such then, the above is only a starting list of actions, to be expanded by the new EDI Committee.
If you are interested in getting involved with this EDI Committee, or providing feedback for the committee to consider, we would like to hear from you. You can indicate your interest in the committee on a rolling basis, using the form linked below. Please note that any feedback will remain highly confidential, and the feedback form will remain open indefinitely for your comments.