Shifting that stubborn needle on inclusion and prejudice

Sarah Akigbogun_c_Nick Guttridge crop

Architecture needs a sea change to improve diversity, writes Sarah Akigbogun

The number of black architects on the Arb’s register, as published in its 2021 report, should be an alarm bell for the profession. It sits stubbornly at 1%. A profession which is progressive should have equity of access for all, yet ours clearly does not.

I have generally not wanted to draw attention to my personal experiences within the industry; instead I have chosen to focus on positive change. However a series of recent articles about discrimination have brought into sharp focus the fact that this is still a present-day reality for many women and people of colour within the profession and in education, and I believe it is time to address these issues.

The explosion of online racism following the Euros final exposed the continued presence of racism in our society. Granted, this was the action of a small but highly visible minority, and the ensuing outpouring of condemnation of the racists and support for Saka, Sancho and Rashford was heartening. However, the abuse demonstrated incontrovertibly that overt racism is still something faced by people of colour in our society today. Alongside it, systemic and institutional racism continue to be forces which impede the progress of many, despite the attempt of the recent government-commissioned report on race and ethnic disparities to convince us that it does not. Tell that to the part III candidates who send out CV after CV and find that their names seem to be preventing them from even getting responses.

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