The Landscape Institute is among six organisations, collectively representing around 350,000 members, who have come together to help shape a built environment sector that is truly representative of the communities it serves

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

Key membership bodies in the built environment sector have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to drive 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 from across the sector: 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), who collectively represent around 350,000 members.

‘I’m proud that the Landscape Institute is part of this cross-sector partnership,’ said LI Chief Executive Sue Morgan. ‘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.

‘To transform the world for the better, 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.’

At present, the profile of the UK’s placemaking workforce is predominantly white, male, heterosexual, and able-bodied. According to CIOB’s 2021 Special Report on Diversity and Inclusion in Construction, women make up around 12% of the country’s built environment workforce; and only 1–2% of the site-based workforce is female. Just 5-7% of people in UK construction are Black, Asian, or from other underrepresented racialised groups, dropping to 1% or fewer among senior industry roles. And less than 3% are part of the LGBTQ+ community.

The MoU focuses on three key areas of work:

  • Standardising member data collection to allow meaningful comparison across our collective membership, formulate a clear picture of the wider built environment sector, and inform targeted action to improve outcomes.
  • Developing a robust, evidence-based understanding of the disparity between the diversity of students that start on institute-accredited courses and those that join the workforce.
  • Developing guidance to support organisations and individuals to develop, improve, and maintain high professional standards relating to equity, diversity, and inclusion outcomes; and to share relevant material to support all professionals working within the built environment.

Over the next few months, the organisations will work together to produce a detailed plan of work to tackle each objective and start making progress towards delivering a more inclusive sector. A collectively agreed action plan will be published later this year.

Sue continued: ‘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.’

Read the MoU in full.

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