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New Certification Targets Fair Architecture Firms

Thursday, May 18, 2017

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A new certification initiative has just been launched with the hopes of highlighting which architecture firms treat their staff well with fair and equal—not to mention legal—pay.

The JustDesign.US certificate has been in the works since 2013, and was created by a collaboration of The Architecture Lobby, Yale School of Architecture’s Equality in Design, and Harvard Graduate School of Design’s Women In Design.

© iStock.com / Geber86

A new certification initiative has just been launched with the hopes of highlighting which architecture firms treat their staff well with fair and equal—not to mention legal—pay.

"We hope that firms will see the advantage of attracting top talent with the JustDesign certificate and do what is required to get it," Yale professor Peggy Deamer said in an interview with Dezeen.

The firms that achieve the certificate will then be listed on a public database.

"And we hope that those job seekers looking at firms will know that the conditions necessary for a firm to get the certificate are not exceptional; rather, they are basic rights that any other discipline has accepted long ago,” Deamer said.

The Process

Nominations are taken from company employees. The questionnaire asks about the many facets of fair practices, including labor conditions, fair pay, salary transparency, employee diversity and family-friendly policies.

Based on the answers from the questionnaires, the group will contact the firms, validate the information, and corroborate the reports. The evaluation is also supported by the American Colleges and Schools of Architecture.

“The goal is to identify firms with ‘just practices’ so that potential employees will have a sense of which firms will treat them fairly and with respect,” according to the website. “We believe that this is an important factor in an architect’s development.”

© iStock.com / vm

Nominations are taken from company employees. The questionnaire asks about the many facets of fair practices including labor conditions, fair pay, salary transparency, employee diversity and family-friendly policies.

While the organization admits that “just practices” cannot be measured in a definitive sense, “those firms that make bigger efforts in the areas that we emphasize—legal labor practices, fair pay, family friendly policies, diversity, transparency, agency—deserve to be recognized.”

Annual reviews of the companies will also be conducted to ensure that the database stays up to date. Nominations received by July 15 will be eligible for the first official list of accredited firms, which is slated to be announced in December.

Issues

Gender equality is just one of the justices that the certification hopes to shed light on.

Both the 2016 Women in Architecture survey and a report from the American Institute of Architects have found that the pay gap is widening for women in the industry, which is driving out women altogether.

In addition to equal pay and family-friendly practices, the certification seeks out firms that abide by the rules in the realm of overtime, internships and employee classifications.

It has been suggested that the timing of this launch corresponds with a particularly tumultuous political climate, but Deamer has insisted that’s not the case.

"This isn't about timeliness; it's about addressing ongoing injustice," Deamer said. "The fact that President Trump has made labor his lowest priority is no different than the neoliberal policies we have lived under for 40 years; nor does it affect the reified notion of architectural work that we endured for over a hundred years."

   

Tagged categories: Architects; Finance; Personnel

Comment from mark muller, (5/18/2017, 10:07 AM)

It's a good start. I wonder if the JustDesign certification will also carry an unintended consequence of labeling firms as "more expensive without added value" to potential clients. Perhaps not the type of client we would (collectively) want to work with on philosophical grounds, but we all take work that we sometimes need more than we want... We come into this profession wearing our all-nighters in studio like a badge of honor, and continue to work inordinate hours throughout our careers, often perceived by those outside the profession as the cost of having a "fun" job. But the generation of people outside the design profession whose only reference to the field came in the form of the Brady Bunch, Mister Ed, and My Favorite Martian is passing, and perhaps initiatives such as this will, over time, bring our income up to a level commensurate with our education and commitment, and dash the perception that we are on par with lawyers' and doctors' pay, able to do houseplans out of our upstairs office and afford to raise a mixed family with a non-working spouse and a maid...


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