Dec 10, 2021 By IIDA HQ
Talent Collective | Culture as Foundation
Hear from EDI leaders from across the industry examining how to collectively implement initiatives in our workplaces and drive changes both big and small.
By IIDA HQ Dec 10, 2021
Published in

As the first of an ongoing dialogue series, IIDA’s Talent Collective, Culture as Foundation explores the ways in which equity, diversity, and inclusion are addressed in the workplace and the industry at large. In this webinar, IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO, Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA is joined by Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Chief People Officer at Interior Architects, Kimberlyn Daniel, Vice President, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at MillerKnoll, Cheryl Kern, and Global Director of Justice, Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion at HKS, Yiselle Santos Rivera. The conversation examines firm and industry culture and explores how firms and EDI leaders are changing the design from the inside out.

Moderated by:
Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, Executive Vice President and CEO, IIDA

Kimberlyn Daniel
, Chief People, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, IA Interior Architects
Cheryl Kern
, Vice President, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, MillerKnoll
Yiselle Santos Rivera,
Global Director of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, HKS

How has your role changed, or is working to institute change within your firms? How has it affected the culture of your firm?

These EDI leaders tackle the importance of change in cultural practices in the workplace and the emergence of new EDI roles across the industry. Kimberlyn reflects, "My role is to really elevate the conversation. We're looking at the firm’s goals more holistically." She continues, "Along with my associated team, we are working at the firm level and the local level, so we can get processes in place to look at what we can do differently to be more equitable and inclusive, even with something as simple as job descriptions."

Yiselle is doing similar work in her firm as a Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion officer. "We adapted each job description to address how you build culture. We're adding community engagement, advocacy and other terminology that acknowledges if you want to be a great designer, you have to understand your community as well. You have to be a leader, facilitator, collaborator and a great listener."

We are aware that there are biases in hiring practices: What are some that you see as most pervasive and how do we work to change those practices? How are you all addressing those inherent biases?

The group acknowledges inherent biases exist in the workplace and hiring processes, and addresses how they are implementing new ways to address them not just at the highest level but in the entirety of the firm.

"I'm trying to put in place practice and rigor around sustained performance management and talent management metrics. So that we begin to have more objective data from which to promote and reward, to begin building succession plans for the firm." shares Kimberlyn.

A huge part of addressing these biases for all the panelists is looking at the major goals of their firms at the highest and lowest levels. "We’re implementing cascading objectives and establishing those big picture objectives that align with our values. Are we being intentional in thinking about the future of our organization, with the people that we have?" asks Yiselle, "And the goal is to make it transparent organizationally so that we can hold ourselves accountable and measure progress."

Cheryl Durst rounds out the ideas, “The word that kind of keeps resonating for me is that there is an alignment for staff and employees. Your goals are very clearly connected to the larger goals of the organization.”

What are some of the most effective strategies for creating diverse and inclusive environments in the workplace, especially in the world of design?

As EDI leaders, Kimberlyn and Yiselle discuss ways in which their work is shifting the lens of equity at micro and macro levels through collective strategies.

"This is going to seem a remarkably simple answer, but having leaders who have the courage to say this is not right. Having leaders that make it a priority and then hiring someone like myself, giving them the resources, access, space, and support to implement the strategy." reflects Kimberlyn.

Yiselle’s new role includes the word justice which has created a new definition of justice for the work she does with the firm. She shares, "If we really want to do this work and do it well, we have to acknowledge the systems that enable or hinder progress in this work, and in order to do that, you need to acknowledge justice to dismantle the barriers of access to success." She continues, "My definition for justice is actively dismantling the barriers of access to opportunities."

How can we be models for the rest of the design industry?

Engaging with EDI concepts from a multiple brand perspective, Cheryl Kern explains how their focus has changed because of individual cultures and different business models. "We have an intentional focus on first seeking to listen, understand, and then, seeking to align, which has been something that has helped us along our EDI journey."

Wrapping up the discussion, our leaders give final thoughts on the impact EDI work will have on the future of design, and how their firms plan to achieve these goal. The group also considered ways in which individual and collective actions impact industry-wide policies and behavior.

Kimberlyn shares that she is including leaders at her firm in this work "We as leaders have to be really mindful, sensible and proactive about what we're going to put in place to attract people who have decided that lifestyle is now almost equally as important to having a successful career."

Cheryl Kern adds "It's our responsibility to create platforms, avenues and access for those folks whose voices cannot be heard."

Of including young designers in the talent they nurture as EDI initiatives expand Yiselle shares "We want to be mindful that the business is changing and we need to be supportive of the work that they're doing."

This webinar is approved for and eligible for 1 IDCEC CEU credit, visit the academy page for more details on these and other CEU opportunities.

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