Better Demographics

by Don Friedman on November 17, 2017

I’ve recently read two articles that superficially are on different topics but go together well: Curbed on Tiffany Brown encouraging architectural careers for African-American women, and at the other end of the social spectrum, the Harvard Business Review on the benefits of diversity.

The issues in engineering are similar in effect but different in detail from the issues in architecture. Engineering has more of a problem with gender diversity (AKA, it skews male) and architecture has more of a problem with racial diversity (AKA, it skews white). Both profession have both problems, overall.

There’s no point in my rehashing what’s in those two articles, but I agree with the point of path of them. To add something that is implicit in the HBS piece: it’s good business to hire people from diverse backgrounds. The obvious benefit is to avoid group-think, but there’s a more subtle argument that ties to the Curbed piece: learning. Having a diverse office – and at this time, OSE does not have any two employees with the same background – means that we are sometimes forced to explain ourselves more than would be necessary in a more uniform office. And that is fantastic. Any time you think you know something, try explaining it. If you can explain it clearly and succinctly, than you actually do understand it. Increasing diversity of a profession, as Ms. Brown is trying to do, increases the different viewpoints, which is good, but also forces people to defend their viewpoint. Everyone wins.


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