NOMA and NCARB unveil new action plan to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in architecture

Today, approximately 2 percent of licensed architects in the U.S. are Black while .5 percent identify as Black women. In Washington D.C. this morning, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) and the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) announced a new action plan to address the disparity and make the licensure process more inclusive for women and people of color.

“The partnership with NCARB has allowed us to quantify the disadvantages BIPOC architects face as they enter the profession, establishing these benchmarks to begin to address the specific challenges we face,” said Tiffany Mayhew, national program manager with NOMA. “Action with intention will yield real results which is what matters now to create the change we want to see as an industry.”

The action plan is informed by findings from the Baseline on Belonging report, a jointly-conducted survey between NCARB and NOMA that began in 2020 to gauge the state of diversity in architecture. As reported by AN, the first Baseline on Belonging report was completed in 2020 after invitations to participate were sent to over 70,000 individuals. Over 5,000 people completed responses to questions about roadblocks to licensure, including over 2,800 from people of color and nearly 2,500 from women. Between 2020 and 2022, NOMA and NCARB held a series of focus groups to determine why women and people of color were leaving the industry at higher droves than white males; among other alarming trends.

According to NCARB, the Baseline on Belonging report yielded three major finds which the most current action plan responds to directly. First, individuals who identified as part of multiple underrepresented groups faced the highest levels of disparity. Second, disparities faced by minority candidates for licensure compounded throughout their career which leads to increasingly higher levels of attrition and difficulty. And third, the age of candidates has a significant impact on licensure progress.

The action plan seeks to address these issues using recommendations outlined in the Baseline on Belonging report. Among its priorities are “raising awareness of the path to licensure, evaluating the difficulty of the path and the cost of the licensure path, creating more effective mentorship programs, fostering more inclusive firm culture, and more.” The press release claimed that NCARB already achieved one of its priorities in April 2023 when it replaced “the rolling clock policy with a new score validity policy,” a request taken directly from the Baseline on Belonging report. The action plan also revealed new demographic data specifically pertaining to Native American and Pacific Islander respondents.

The full report can be found here.

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