Landscape Institute CEO Daniel Cook thinks about the LI’s own journey towards becoming a more diverse organisation – and helming a more inclusive profession

    Image from Fira's 40 Years of Place-Making anniversary book. © Fira/Soda

    (Missed part 1 of this blog? Find it here.)


    It’s been really pleasing to see the LI’s Board and Council recognising the need to make diversity and inclusion central to all we do. Inclusive growth is a core tenet of our new corporate strategy, and we are already starting to make positive changes in this area.

    In just two years at the LI, we have:

    • supported new CPD provision and branch events linked to diversity and inclusion
    • improved gender balance and pay equity in our management team
    • introduced flexible working at the LI, including remote working, part-time roles and flexible hours
    • held a series of diversity and inclusion workshops with diverse groups
    • created a brand-new LI Award category, named after Dame Sylvia Crowe, one of our most accomplished female members

    What does success look like?

    Ultimately, I would like to see conditions in our profession and related professions where:

    • people are free and able to be themselves at work
    • the landscape profession is more representative of the society it seeks to serve, and attracts more people from diverse backgrounds
    • we can celebrate the career progression of role models from a wider range of backgrounds

    Crucially, the landscape professions should address and encourage inclusion in society more widely.

    The LI’s journey: Assessing our own situation

    In 2017, we commissioned our first ever talent survey to understand a wider set of diversity metrics. We also formally established a Diversity and Inclusion Working Group, chaired by Vestre’s Romy Rawlings.

    I have met leading female members who still suffer significant discrimination when they visit project sites – especially in the construction sector. At our first ever LGBT+ workshop, we discovered just how few leading LGBT+ role models our sector has. And we have heard of many instances where members from diverse backgrounds are facing discrimination in their workplaces.

    We have started to engage with key diverse groups to better understand their needs, concerns and ideas for the future. We are beginning to understand what we can do – through our events, CPD provision, standards, registered practice scheme and communications channels – to address diversity issues.

    Awareness: What you can do

    We aren’t yet where we should be. Recognising this will allow your organisation to take some important steps towards addressing it:

    • surveying your staff and tracking your progress over time
    • promoting learning in your organisation about difference – whether it be cultural, work style, or any other elements
    • being more proactive in your recruitment strategies to attract diverse candidates
    • providing training on unconscious bias to your teams

    I urge each of our members, employers and leaders to play their part on this journey.

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