diversity, or the lack thereof, was apparent. This report and the formation of the
IIDA Diversity Council are the first steps of many toward a more diverse industry—
in race and gender, and thought and discipline.”
Because the meaning of diversity is “highly personal,” the Roundtable made
sure to discuss the various definitions of the idea and how it is addressed and
conveyed in different environments and segments in the design industry. As illustrated
by figures compiled in the report, diverse companies perform better in terms of
monetary success in addition to problem solving and innovations. Additionally, they
“are more immune to the perils of groupthink,” according to the report.
George Bandy, Jr., now vice president of sustainability for Mohawk Group,
noted, “As workplaces embrace diversity, they realize benefits that help improve
their companies: more varied ideas, increased international opportunities, and
According to Roundtable participants, which included industry members, IIDA
international board members, design practitioners, and others, despite the awareness
of lack of diversity, many firms are not doing everything they can to alleviate the
issue, particularly with racial and ethnic diversity. In addition, within higher positions
in interior design firms there is significant misrepresentation of women, with only
25 percent of firm leaders being female. However, according to a 2013 industry
survey, 60 percent of the 87,000 industry practitioners in the U.S. are women. A
bigger picture of the lack of diversity is reflected in the figures from a 2015 report
from the Bureau of Labor Statistics: 77 percent of architects are white and 25. 7
What’s interesting, however, is that when design industry members were asked
if they thought their field was lacking in diversity, many initial comments reflected
they did not believe so. Responses included broad objections: “I disagree with this
statement [that design is considered one of the least diverse professions]. I would
like to see the data backing it up,” and more personalized views: “This has not
been my experience within my organization or team.”
The general sentiment is that the design community has more diversity when it
comes to thought; dubbed “cognitive diversity,” this idea encompasses the mix of
backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives from people who all think differently.
According to a recent Fast Company article cited in the IIDA report, millennials
define diversity as this idea of cognitive diversity, while baby boomers and Gen
Xers think of diversity in terms of gender, race and, sometimes, age.
While the numbers show that the industry of design is, in fact, lacking diversity,
the A&D world prides itself on its creativity and overall broad-minded way of thinking.
“The design profession seems extremely open and inclusive and willing to embrace
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According to the report, the makeup of the design industry and individual
firms should look more like this most recent U.S. census data.