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Diversity in design discussed in new IIDA Roundtable report
Apr 1, 2016

A new report released by the IIDA delivers a “strategic roadmap” for the organization’s recently formed Diversity Council, chaired by Stacy Walker, chairman of the IIDA Diversity Council and director of customer experience at Milliken. The report, “Design & Diversity: Why Gender, Equity and Multidisciplinary Thinking Are Essential to Business,” provides a synopsis of the conversation on diversity and inclusion that took place among 30 design industry leaders at the 19th annual IIDA Industry Roundtable in January.


The IIDA Diversity Council was formed earlier this year.

“IIDA approached the subject of diversity in the design industry by taking stock of our association. From chapter events to continuing education programs, to the headquarters of our partners in manufacturing to our own board of directors—diversity, or the lack thereof, was apparent,” said IIDA executive vice president and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, who moderated the roundtable. “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.”

The report delves into research on the many benefits of diversity in business, statistics showing the current state of diversity in the design industry, and personal accounts from leaders like Gabrielle Bullock, director of global diversity, Perkins+Will; Shauna Stallworth, principal, LUHF & LUMM LLC; and Jeffrey Gay, architecture and design representative, Herman Miller, who shared their experiences as African-Americans who are creating opportunities for cultural awareness and inclusiveness both in their own firms and across the profession. One of the key goals, the report says, is "to identify challenges in this profession and to discover, define, and deliver comprehensive education and solutions."

Research found that there is a gender imbalance at the top of the design profession: Only 25 percent of firm leaders are women, though 69 percent of the 87,000 interior designers in the U.S. are female; additionally, the profession is also one of the least racially diverse professions of all. (Architecture, too, ranks low on the diversity scale: it is the fifth least-diverse occupation in the U.S.) The report recommends suggestions for addressing the gap, among them: Initiate discussions about race; Define diversity for your organization; Create and enforce and diversity agenda; in addition to other guidelines that can be read in full in the report. But there is some hopeful news, too; for example, of the 10,000 students enrolled in NASAD-accredited interior design and interior architecture programs, minority percentages have doubled over the last 15 years.

Discover more in-depth research and guidelines for improving and embracing diversity in the full report.

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