International Women's Day - Forging Equality

08 Mar 2024

It's that time of year again, we are celebrating International Womens Day and excited with the themes of forging inclusion, equity and equality. It’s hard not to focus on how much we do around this, trying always to make an impact beyond our size, we are proud of lots of things we get right and similarly looking at stuff we all need to work on.

As a smaller practice we are proud to have equity in pay, senior and board level females, female led technical teams and be working on creating an environment for all genders that is flexible around families, mental health and working arrangements, this fits in with our People first philosophy.

The issue of forging equity and the old chestnut that is inequality in pay is something we all need to deal with and we are keen to be part of discussions that outline proactive steps to address this. This is fuelled in part by inspiration from global equality champions working tirelessly to close the wage gap. Bold actions by Icelandic women in late 2023, including a national strike led by the Prime Minister, demanded equal pay rights and emphasised the need for immediate action. This movement underscores the urgency of addressing pay inequality for women in both paid and unpaid sectors.

Further cool stuff is Claudia Goldin's recent Nobel economics prize, awarded for her research on the gender gap in economics. Her work, spanning 200 years reveals a persistent pay divide between men and women, even as women attain higher education. Goldin's conclusion aligns with our findings: there's no one-size-fits-all solution, and each organisation must address this challenge uniquely.

Inspired, we're taking proactive steps within the built environment community. We've started to chat to people in the industry, to compile recommendations and be involved with a working group that is contributing to a comprehensive charter for a more equitable future. While there's much work ahead and we are a small cog we remain focused on making an impact beyond the average architectural practice.

Claudia Goldin sees a direct relationship between "greedy jobs" and women's pay discrepancies, a term coined by sociologist, Lewis Coser. Rachel Birchmore, in her BD article, earlier this year debates whether architecture itself is a "greedy job," demanding over and above the norm, making it untenable for those juggling work and family not to mention the difficulties. In response here at Fuse we have introduced simple strategies, including time-off arrangements, email footers indicating non-urgent responses, and advocating for true equality in parental leave and care.

Goldin's insight emphasises that without equality in parenting and care responsibilities, the burden will continue to fall on women, impacting their career and earning potential. The broader debate, with women still earning up to 20% less than men, underscores the need for our discussions.

We are proud to be investigating these istrategies and contributing to the conversation Let's work together to dismantle barriers and foster a more inclusive and equitable future.