As we start a brand-new year, the team at Feldman Architecture wants to continue to share our progress, setbacks, challenges, and successes with our community to both hold ourselves accountable, as well as to join in on the knowledge sharing that makes larger scale meaningful progress attainable. In 2021, our JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) Committee was hard at work improving processes, learning, and growing. Below, find updates and as always, please feel free to reach with comments, questions, and suggestions! We’d love to hear from you.
In 2021, FA’s JEDI committee focused on two main initiatives. First, we hired DEI consultant Humanize Us All to perform an operational audit of our studio, analyzed and learned from their findings, and reacted to and/or implemented their recommendations. Secondly, our committee completed a deep dive into researching internship, mentorship, and volunteer opportunities and encouraged participation from interested staff, with the goal of identifying a marquis program to align with to support the next generation of designers and architects from specifically underrepresented communities.
In spring of 2021, the Humanize Us All team issued an anonymous survey to all FA staff that provided an extensive list of questions about their personal experiences, opinions, and suggestions in the categories of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging, Humanizing Culture, and Policies + Procedures at Feldman Architecture. HUA then used this data to tailor a presentation to first our JEDI Committee and Executive Team, and later our entire staff with findings, suggestions, successes, and areas for improvement.
The audit began by identifying our strengths as a firm, acknowledging that the best foundation for growth comes from leveraging preexisting strengths. For instance, reporting found that the vast majority of staff feel respected and valued by the organization, and additionally feel like they belong at FA. 100% of FA staff members believe that the organization has a growth mindset, and every FA staff member identified that gender diversity was important to them.
Afterwards, our committee completed a deep dive into HUA’s full Humanity Audit, compiling a list of recommendations to focus on in 2022. These were divided into three categories: Quick To-Do’s, 2022 Goals, and 2022 discussion points. The Quick To-do’s included a task list for easily accomplished items such as posting all important information and announcements to our intranet, ensuring all staff complete a mandatory Sexual Harassment training, reviewing our office protocols, and reminding staff they have the option to put their pronouns in internal and external communications/signatures.
A few of the 2022 Goals and Talking Points include:
- Integrate diversity into our selection process for prospective clients and projects.
- Finalize a database of minority-owned and value-aligned businesses and share internally and with peers.
- Solidify and redistribute an updated and anonymous complaint form with all staff.
- Research and begin the process to enact affinity groups at FA.
These goals were then presented to our staff at a 2022 kick off meeting, with the hopes of encouraging feedback and participation.
This presentation was accompanied by the introduction of a handful of volunteer and mentorship opportunities that our staff have the option of participating in this year. So far, we have two staff members volunteering for the Spring semester of the SF ACE Mentorship program, in which they meet weekly with local high school students interested in potentially pursuing a career in architecture, construction, or engineering, and help them with a relevant design project. We have also identified SF NOMA’s project pipeline camp as a volunteer opportunity this summer. Additionally, our internship program will expand to work with SFUSD Career Pathways to welcome a local, high school intern into our office for the summer months. Lastly, this year we are excited to become a NOMA President’s Circle Corporate Member, benefitting from the organization’s events, DEI training, and resources.