My time as Chair of Queensland Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee has recently wrapped up; and I wanted to take the time to reflect on what I have learned over the past 2 and a half years – the challenges and the wins, the sweaty palms and my #BigBold moment.
1. Equity is for everyone
What began as a passion for raising the voices and visibility of Queensland women in architecture soon evolved into making room for motivating, informing and empowering women to more fully participate in, and influence our industry. Chairing this EDI Committee allowed me to help my peers self-reflect and act on their own innovative solutions toward flexibility; negotiation of career breaks and to pioneer methods to take control of their own careers.
I took great pride in spear-heading the change within the Queensland Committee from ‘Gender Equity’ to ‘Equity, Inclusion and Diversity’. I believe this was a crucial adjustment as it meant there was space for more considerations, perspectives, industry acumen and life experience that a landscape of diversity could provide. The State Committees is agile enough to pivot focus in the way that enables Equity for Everyone. Without the support of the Institute, EDI Committee members and specifically State Manager, Alice-Anne McRobbie; this change wouldn’t have happened.
2. Your Committee is only as strong as its volunteers
Architects are acutely aware that every resource is a valuable contribution to the work we produce and the industry we represent. It is no small feat for the EDI Committee to have a duty to highlight those who are doing things differently – for the sake of those thinking about careers in architecture, currently engaged and employed in the industry and crucially; heading into or maintaining leadership positions.
Diverse input into architectural design and industry activity can and has been difficult, confronting and at times disheartening. I have had conversations from those who support Equity, Diversity and Inclusion as an issue that needs discussion and action, and those who don’t. Questions that arise from these conversations are rarely answered immediately or by one voice; but instead are buoyed by a collection of passionate, energetic and informed Committee members, all who generously volunteer their time. These volunteers are there to pick you up when the trenches seem deep; provide another informed perspective when there seems no alternative and offer support along the journey the Committee and role as Chair may take.
I want to wholeheartedly thank each and every one of the volunteers who took the time to encourage; support and trust in my leadership of the EDI Committee and for their tireless effort to affect change for our members and in our Practices. Without your time, energy and actions none of our achievements would have made it past the I have an idea… stage.
3. The Big Bold Moment
I found the role of Chair confronting and challenging.
There are Members with ideas, passion and expectations. There are CPD events to prepare, host and deliver for the industry at a professional level. There are Chapter Council presentations with some intimidating names and faces. I had my fair share of sweaty, shaky palms and anxiety-fuelled moments.
At some point the Big Bold shift happened – In the middle of a presentation with Directors of practices I felt intimidated by and in front of an auditorium of 80+ of my peers; I heard myself thinking why did I do this again?.
Looking out to my panel; and to the faces watching on I corrected my line of thinking, this is challenging and confronting, but I can and should do this! Talk, influence, connect and inspire. Presenting to a large audience became more fun than forced. There is more research to do; there always will be – however, I felt comfortable influencing conversations. There are some pretty impressive people out there; but making meaningful connections occurred repeatedly.
My Big Bold experience had its foundation built through my Committee Membership; and the range of opportunities the role of Chair presents.
There are still times where I get sweaty hands and there will always be anxiety-fuelled moments. I want to leave this reflection with a message that is simply: the good things are rarely easy; doing them anyway is a sure-fire way to learn about yourself, learn about the industry and to make a change that you may find uncomfortable but will advance you personally and professionally in an influential way.
Written by Tiffany Molloy RAIA