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Built environment sector bodies unite to improve diversity and inclusion

Chartered Institute of Building

4 min read Partner content

Key membership bodies in the built environment sector have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to drive forward the creation of a more diverse, equitable and inclusive sector, ensuring it is more representative of the society it serves.

The MoU brings together six organisations: the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), Landscape Institute (LI), Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), collectively representing around 350,000 members.

The agreement focuses on:

Data collection to create a consistent approach and standard model that will allow meaningful comparison between and across respective memberships’ and help to formulate a clear picture of the built environment sector more widely.
Improve understanding of transition from education into employment to develop a robust, evidence-based understanding of the disparity between the diversity of students that start on institute-accredited courses and the talent that makes it into the workforce. To build on existing good practice from individual institutes to improve our collective understanding of retention rates and awarding gaps on accredited courses.
EDI competencies to develop understanding and guidance for the sector, supporting organisations, individuals and institutes to develop, improve and maintain professional standards.

Over the next few months, the institutes will work together to produce a detailed plan of work, setting out how each of the objectives will be tackled to help make progress to deliver a more inclusive sector. A collectively agreed action plan will be published later this year.

Caroline Gumble, CIOB CEO, said:

“CIOB has, for some years now, recognised the need to urgently improve the diversity of the built environment workforce. Today’s announcement that we are uniting with our sister professional bodies to support initiatives which break down barriers and reduce the impact of bias is a powerful reminder that, in collaborating and working together, we have the potential to drive positive culture change for our sector, for our communities and society.”

Dr. Anusha Shah, Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Vice President, Membership said:

“The ICE is delighted to be a signatory to this memorandum of understanding, which will facilitate greater collaboration across the built environment. Together, we will work towards achieving a more diverse workforce and one that better represents the society we serve. Driven by the ICE Fairness Inclusion and Respect Action Plan, we have worked hard to make sure that underrepresented sections of our communities see civil engineering as a career opportunity and one which provides a broad, diverse and inclusive environment for all, regardless of background. We welcome this opportunity to build on what has gone before, by committing to collaborate with other bodies in the built environment sector.”

Sue Morgan, LI Chief Executive, said:

“I’m proud that the Landscape Institute is part of this cross-sector partnership. As designers, we seek to transform the world for the better. But to do this, we must understand and represent the interests and experiences of all the communities we serve.

“We know that there are longstanding issues with diversity in the built environment workforce. By identifying the gaps between education and practice, our organisations seek to establish the root causes for this. And by pooling our collective resources and intelligence, as well as standardising our approach to gathering information, we will be able to put this data to best use – addressing systemic barriers and ultimately bringing about real, positive change.

“I look forward to working more closely with our partners in the coming months and years, and to seeing a long-overdue evolution of the built environment sector into one that is accessible, inclusive, and welcoming to all.”

RIBA CEO Alan Vallance said: 

“I am really pleased that we are committing to working collaboratively with colleagues across the sector to ensure we deliver on our EDI commitments. By combining our efforts to address the systemic barriers that perpetuate discrimination and underrepresentation, we can drive forward change at a faster and more effective rate.” 

Richard Collins, Interim CEO, RICS, added: 

“Improving diversity, equity and inclusion is a top priority for the RICS and we recognise that true progress can only be made through effective collaboration. This MOU demonstrates our collective commitment to driving positive changes for the built environment.”

Victoria Hills, Chief Executive of the RTPI, said: 

“The RTPI places Equality, Diversity, and Inclusivity at the heart of the institute, for our members, the profession, the community and the built environment sector.

“However, we know that we cannot change the sector by working alone. That’s why it is not only a great pleasure to sign this ground-breaking MoU with our friends, but an honour.

“Only by working together can we create a sector as diverse as the communities we work for and deliver a fair and inclusive culture that works for our members and diverse society.”

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