The 2017-18 FLUID Diversity Mentoring Programme, now in its fifth year, got off to a strong start at its recent launch at the RIBA in London, with many new and returning mentors and prospective mentee candidates wanting to hear about the experiences of past participants on both sides of the mentoring programme.
FLUID is a scheme to address retention and development of talented practitioners in the built environment which first began, back in 2012. The programme is designed to support built environment practitioners from diverse backgrounds over a period of 12 months and runs on a one-to-one developmental model with volunteer mentors and mentee applicants, recruited and paired from across all levels and all professional disciplines. It particularly seeks to support and encourage those under-represented in the professional and managerial disciplines including women, BME and LGBT practitioners, and professionals with disabilities and those from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
Katy Ghahremani, co-chair of Architects for Change (AfC) and Director at Make Architects, in her Keynote Address reported on data gathered by AfC and applauded the improvement in the number of women entering the profession at degree level, which has risen from 34% to 50%. However, she went on to highlight the need for on-going support to prevent drop-off, as well as the lack of change in qualification at Part 3 which remained static at 11% for women.
Ms Ghahremani called on members of the construction industry to go into schools and provide careers advisors with information on the enormous array of opportunities that the industry has to offer, whilst also highlighting that the predisposition to provide work and summer placements for family members or friends was not helpful in creating a diverse workplace. She concluded her address by saying “It is a privilege to be involved with FLUID at a time when so many industries are looking to become more transparent, more diverse and more inclusive. FLUID aims to make a positive difference to the way we work in the built environment and it is proving to be a great way to break down the silos between the disciplines by providing each of the professions with an opportunity to talk to each other in a different space”.
This was followed by testimonials from FLUID participants: Yemi Aladerun, architect, quoted Bob Dylan – “the highest form of art is to inspire” – and she went on to express just what a positive experience the FLUID mentoring process has been for her, a view which was endorsed by Richard Brindley, consultant, who has been a mentor for two years, “I feel I gain much more than I give”. Sarah Shuttleworth who has worked as an architect in Africa, China and America said she has faced challenging situations and needed external support which she received from her older, non-architect mentor whom she described as “a perfect match”. This theme was picked up by Tara Gbolade, Associate at RG&P, who said a different perspective was “invaluable”.
Over five years the FLUID Diversity Mentoring Programme has assisted over 100 mentees from the UK and from places as far afield as New York, Hong Kong, Dubai and Australia.
Applications to be a FLUID mentee have now closed for 207-18 and the interview process which precedes the pairings of mentors with mentees is currently underway.
Danna Walker, Founder of Built By Us, the social enterprise which is facilitating the FLUID Diversity Mentoring Programme going forward said of the launch “This programme proves that we can all do something to improve diversity in our industry. I am delighted by the success of the FLUID programme over the last five years, none of which could have happened without the generosity of our mentors. It never fails to amaze me to see the calibre of the professionals who put themselves forward voluntarily to fill these roles and help those coming up the career ladder behind them. This is collaboration in its truest sense. I’d also like to thank our sponsors Make Architects and EPR Architects whose significant financial contribution together with that of Expedition Engineering have made it possible for the FLUID programme to continue to be inclusive and accessible. Sponsorship opportunities are available all year round and FLUID welcomes offers of support to the programme.”
Make is an award-winning international architectural practice with a reputation for challenging convention and pursuing design excellence. Since we opened our doors in 2004, we’ve worked on more than 1,300 projects worldwide covering a wide range of sectors. We’ve delivered 68 built schemes from studios across three continents, including 43 buildings, 18 interiors and refurbishments and seven smaller design projects. We’ve also achieved 95 planning consents and realised 11 masterplans. Our work is inspired by a singular purpose; to design the best buildings, places and spaces in the world.
About EPR Architects
EPR Architects is an award-winning architectural studio based in Central London and Poland. Our reputation as one of the UK’s leading practices reflects proven expertise in architecture, masterplanning, interior design and our commitment to design excellence. Our diverse team of over 200 talented people collaborate to produce vibrant and inventive architecture in response to our clients’ unique requirements, delivering an exciting portfolio of projects with professionalism from concept to delivery.
We are dedicated to nurturing the best talent and skills and do this by investing in people and the technical resources to support them. A number of EPR Architects’ staff have participated in FLUID over the years, benefitting from being mentees, mentors or both, with their experience inspiring our own in-house mentoring programme. We are delighted to be an official sponsor of FLUID; providing financial assistance and support to continue helping Danna and her team of dedicated volunteers maintain and grow the FLUID programme.
Website: https://www.epr.co.uk/ Twitter: @EPRArchitects
About Expedition Engineering
Expedition Engineering Ltd is an award-winning firm of structural and civil design engineers based in Central London. Since 1999, we have collaborated with clients, contractors and design teams on interesting and challenging projects and our work has been recognised through numerous awards.
Expedition is part of the Useful Simple Trust, an Employee Benefit Trust, which delivers work in the built environment, engineering design, architecture, sustainable development, sustainable communications and design education.
Our purpose is to blaze a trail in the integrated, intelligent and ethical provision of the human environment. Expedition looks for practical and appropriate ways to meet the complex needs of clients. We deliver useful, simple outcomes that are beautiful and good.
Website: https://expedition.uk.com/ Twitter: @EXP_eng
Built By Us (BBU) is a not-for-profit social enterprise. Its vision is that by 2030 BBU will have played an active role in the creation of a diverse UK construction sector, which both reflects the society it serves and draws on the talents of a diverse workforce. www.builtbyus.org.uk