Jul 21, 2015
BY:
THEME: Point of View

Diversity by Design

With demographics changing globally within all market sectors, diversity will continue to have a huge influence on our employees, clients, and workplaces. By embracing diversity and valuing and leveraging our differences, it will make our organizations and companies stronger and better.

That said, Perkins+Will is always looking for ways to innovate, and in our pursuit of advancing the design industry we examined our commitment to diversity.

Diversity is a critical element of our firm, and is supported by an aggressive approach of encouraging more outreach, more engagement, and more inclusion of all walks of life. To communicate this position, the statement we spread to our offices, communities, and clients last year was:

We believe that inclusion spurs creativity, and that innovation is born from an engaged culture of diverse people and ideas. In this global environment, we are committed to building an organization that reflects the diversity of the communities and clients we serve.

A year into consistently using this statement, Perkins+Will has become increasingly aware and vocal about diversity and has seen the powerful results it yields, specifically in regards to diversity of thought. For our firm, diversified thought means moving beyond barriers and stereotypes of gender, culture, color, race, religion, age, sexuality, physical abilities, generational differences, and economic settings to form a team of talented professionals doing excellent work. For instance, there is a dynamic Perkins+Will design team with individuals hailing from Argentina, Bangladesh, Haiti, India, Iran, Lebanon, Mexico, Romania, South Korea, and the United States. However, their respective locations are not the achievement we focus on. What really inspires and motivates us is seeing the all-inclusive team allowing their unique, diversified thought to impact their design strategies, and having the client observe richer outcomes through the team (and firm) embracing diversity with zero boundaries.

In 2015, Perkins+Will extended our commitment to diversified thought by issuing a firmwide Diversity Design Challenge, asking all Perkins+Will employees to create an original graphic expressing what “diversity” means to them (with people allowed to submit more than one graphic). Entries were submitted by people all over the world, from nearly every office, with our Diversity Council anonymously reviewing over fifty total entries. The graphics we received were so wonderfully rich, wide-ranging, and…well…diverse that it made selecting a set of winners a difficult, yet rewarding, task.

Upon review, the Perkins+Will Diversity Council named a Best of Competition winner as well as four Honorable Mention winners. The Honorable Mention Winners of the Diversity Design Challenge were:

Erin Graham, Boston

Erin Graham, Boston

Becki Ivins, Chicago

Becki Ivins, Chicago

Chika Sekiguchi, Chicago

Chika Sekiguchi, Chicago

 

Pamela Steiner, Chicago

Pamela Steiner, Chicago

Perkins+Will also created a People’s Choice award, allowing all employees (regardless if they submitted or not) to “like” their favorite diversity graphic on an internal Diversity Design Challenge microsite. Fascinatingly, the People’s Choice winner ended up being the same as what the Diversity Council selected as Best of Competition winner, revealing how aligned and unified Perkins+Will is firmwide in its vision of diversity.

becki_ivins_CHI_BestofCompetition and People's Choice

Becki Ivins, Chicago

Stemming from this competition, these entries will make appearances in the firm’s diversity-focused materials online, in print, and in select physical elements within our offices to express our commitment to diversity, and how diversified thought drives Perkins+Will.

How does your company encourage and celebrate diversity among its employees? Let us know in the comments.

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