California Architects

Newsletter Logo for California Architects

2018 Edition, Issue 3


A Publication of the California Architects Board ■ Public Protection Through Examination, Licensure, and Regulation

President’s Message

Diversity Strengthens Our Profession and Benefits Consumers

I endorse a commitment to improving diversity in our profession.

In June, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) released data from its 2018 edition of NCARB by the Numbers, an annual report that explores architectural education, the path to licensure, and diversity in the profession.

Sylvia Kwan
Sylvia Kwan

According to the 2018 report, there was a three percent increase (to 45 percent) of new non-white Architectural Experience Program participants from last year—an important early-career milestone on the path to licensure. The report also showed slight improvement in the representation of women in the profession, with a one percent increase (to 20 percent) of women holding an NCARB certificate. Women represent 43 percent of new NCARB record holders, which remains the same as last year.

There is more to be done, writes NCARB President David L. Hoffman and Chief Executive Officer Michael J. Armstrong. NCARB is justifiably proud of being the first U.S. professional architectural organization to elect a woman, and the first to elect an African American, as its presidents.

Architectural Exterior
Architectural Exterior

We know that diversity at NCARB is heavily dependent on states’ gubernatorial appointments. When governors appoint a collection of diverse individuals to their architect boards, that collection of diverse individuals becomes the source of NCARB’s talent pool. When there is lack of diversity on state boards, that contributes to the lack of diversity at NCARB.

Of course, there is much more to achieving professional diversity than to simply attract different ethnic groups or genders. Other factors of diversity include age, cultural background, talents and experiences, etc. Our culture is ready to embrace and encourage a refreshed pool of talent for its next century, from all places and perspectives, writes Hoffman and Armstrong.

Why is diversity so vital? Diversity affects not only the people in our professional operations, but also our consumers and other external stakeholders. For instance, firms that fail to see the importance of diversity and inclusion might find their architects unable to attract and retain the kinds of customers and business partners in an increasingly globalized world.

Some key points to bear in mind as we consider how diversity strengthens our profession and benefits consumers include:

  1. Organizations in our profession must try to make diversity a strength. Companies must recognize the specific benefits of diversity to their success. It does not mean that people of one culture, gender, age, etc., only work with those respective clients. It means that, in the grand scheme, the organization is better able to relate to different clients and serve them.
  2. Businesses need to adapt to our changing nation to be competitive in the economic market. Census data tell us that by 2050 there will be no racial or ethnic majority in the United States. Our economy will grow and benefit from these changing demographics if businesses commit to meeting the needs of diverse communities as employees and consumers.
  3. Diversity fosters a more creative and innovative workforce. Bringing together employees with different qualifications, backgrounds, and experiences foster effective problem-solving in the workplace. This creates better working relationships and helps avoid miscommunication based on cultural differences and ignorance about other groups.
  4. The lack of diverse candidates contributes to the lack of diversity at NCARB. Licensing board service is a prerequisite for election to NCARB leadership. Therefore, the path to diverse NCARB leadership begins with diverse appointments to serve on a jurisdictional licensing board.

Embracing a diverse pool of talent in our profession is crucial to the future of architectural organizations in California and beyond. The Board looks forward to supporting efforts to make the profession more inclusive.