New group will focus on attracting minority groups to the landscape profession

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The Landscape Institute’s annual conference, held in Sheffield last year, included a keynote that brought together three senior members of the profession. Mary O’Connor FLI, Michelle Bolger CMLI and Romy Rawlings CMLI talked about how gender impacted their working lives. One of the outcomes of the conference was the decision that the LI should make a commitment to addressing diversity and inclusion.

As part of this work, the Landscape Institute is establishing a new Diversity and Inclusion working group, which will concentrate on how we can attract and retain more minority groups within the profession.

The working group will develop strategy on diversity and inclusion, focusing on gender, ethnicity, economic background, disability and sexuality, and aims to engage with members and the wider built environment industry. They will create a framework for reporting to members, and will developing a strategy that will be delivered to Board during the course of this year.

Its first task will be a scoping exercise to gather metrics on recruitment, representation and progression of minorities in these areas. These figures will help to identify where the profession should work to become more diverse and inclusive, and will lead to recommendations to the Board of Trustees, Registered Practices and LI members. The Diversity and Inclusion working group will aim to demonstrate the benefits that come from a more diverse membership and staff team, and will show that providing a positive experience for all can strengthen the profession as a whole.

The LI has already gathered some data, based on member surveys, about gender equality in the profession. The 2015 salary survey revealed that the most common salary band for both men and women is £30,000-£39,999. At higher salary bands, however, the gender pay gap widens. Approximately 18% of men earn between £40,000 and £49,999, as opposed to just 13% of women. And fewer than one in ten of the members earning over £100,000 are women. Furthermore, it seems that the gender divide at higher salary levels has increased since 2014; and of the ten largest landscape practices, only 14 of the 67 directors are women.

The Diversity and Inclusion working group will have its first meeting on 27 February in London. Members who are interested in joining the working group are invited to get in touch with Sabina Mohideen via e-mail to volunteer or for further information. Working group members are invited from across the membership; the LI is especially keen to hear from:

  • those with an interest in this area of work based on personal experience within or outside the workplace;
  • senior members of the profession who are in a position to share their experiences of changing practices within their own companies, or are in the process of changing practices;
  • staff members of organisations who are responsible for equality and diversity and are interested in sharing their expertise, even if they aren’t members of the Landscape Institute (LI members are welcome to encourage colleagues to get in touch); and
  • staff members with an interest in this area

It is especially important that equality, diversity and inclusion is not perceived to be the remit of women. We encourage men who are interested to join the group.

While the group will mainly interact via e-mail, there will be occasional meetings, especially in the early stages, to discuss the group’s aims and create a plan of action. There will also be events, both internally for the group and externally for the membership, that members may be interested in attending. Events will be held across the UK.


  1. As noble as this venture undoubtedly believes its motivations to be, it ignores the somewhat larger ‘elephant in the room’ that affects both men and women equally in respect of the greatest causation of employment ‘pay gap’ and equality issues- that of ‘Class Pay Gap’, This subject which has often been left ignored through ignorance, squeamishness and denial has been highly detailed in the recently published report by the LSE & UCL.( January 2017) This in depth study produces clear evidence and conclusions that the differential of people from ‘working class’ backgrounds within the major professions equates to an average pay gap of £6,800. Whilst the Landscape Architecture / Architectural Design profession is not directly named ( as opposed to the Financial Institutions and the Judiciary for example) it surely would be hugely naïve of anyone to believe that the same effects do not apply. Perhaps it would be worthwhile for any committee or working group arising from out of the initial proposal to widen the scope of their brief to include this aspect for serious consideration.

  2. I agree, Shiboleth. While the starting point of the item at the 2016 conference was about gender issues, it opened up the debate to the broader matter of diversity generally in the membership of the LI. Hence the intention that “The working group will develop strategy on diversity and inclusion, focusing on gender, ethnicity, economic background, disability and sexuality, and aims to engage with members and the wider built environment industry.”

    I’m looking forward to the first meeting of the group on Monday! Will you be there?


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