We are very pleased to share that the Guides to Equitable Practice revision process with the Parlour Collective is well underway!

The Parlour Guides to Equitable Practice were created in 2014 to help architecture move towards a more equitable profession, one that offers opportunity for all and is better positioned to meet contemporary challenges. A lot has changed in the profession over the last nine years and it is now time to update the Guides. The aim is to ensure they continue to provide effective and meaningful advice to individuals, practices, professional groups and organisations.

The feedback process

In 2022, we offered Collective practices and individuals the opportunity to provide feedback via focus groups and online forms. The uptake in interest and involvement was phenomenal! The 12 focus groups – one for each Guide – included a diverse range of participants, from graduates through to senior directors located in 30 architectural practices across Australia (and one international) as well as academia and professional bodies.

The focus groups ran over a two-week period in September 2022 and covered updates to the existing Guides and the development of new Guides. Discussions focused on topics relating to current practice, and gaps in any advice or knowledge. Recommendations from group participants were discussed, collected and collated.

What have we learned?

What became evident in these focus group discussions was the significant and positive change seen in the architectural profession since the original Guides to Equitable Practice were published in 2014.

Flexible working arrangements in the profession have progressed in leaps and bounds, with focus group participants providing insightful knowledge on flexibility types, the benefits to productivity, communication tools and managing the everyday challenges. The changing attitudes for flexible working and parental leave policies have evidently created more opportunity in leadership positions and career progression.

Career Progression was a BIG Focus Group with many meaningful contributions around the variety of pathways available in current practice, the redefinition of career success, and the importance of role models.

However, what also became evident was that the profession still has a way to go in some areas. For example, consistent feedback in the Long Hours Culture Consultation was that this Guide is still very relevant and not much has changed. Indeed, the influence of Covid and flexible working arrangements has made it even easier to work long hours than before. This is clearly concerning. Habitual unpaid overtime is not just unethical; it’s exploitative. We are now aiming to include content in the updated Guide on the importance of paying overtime.

A significant new Guide on Sexual Harassment will join the suite of updated Guides to Equitable Practice. This new Guide will focus on prevention and response. The focus group provided useful advice around definitions of everyday sexism, how to be an upstander rather than a bystander, and implementing low tolerance model policies and procedures for individuals, practices and the profession.

What needs to change?

Proposed refinements include:

  • Incorporate new developments, research and shifts in best practice.
  • Incorporate changes in workplace norms in built environment practices.
  • Update in relation to workplace changes and equity challenges brought by the pandemic.
  • Revise language around gender to ensure the guides are inclusive of all gender identities
  • Ensure an inclusive approach that emphasises equity for all – no matter what gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background, sexual orientation, age or religion.
  • Review language around work/life and family life to ensure the guides reference a broad mix of external demands and pursuits (not just traditional family life).
  • Embed concerns about mental wellbeing / burnout when revising all guides.
  • Update relevant legislation and the material provided in the Further Resources and Further Reading sections.

What’s next?

Parlour is working full steam ahead drafting the updates to the Guides to Equitable Practice. Focus group participants will have the opportunity to review these ahead of publication. To ensure the updated Guides are inclusive for all, we will also engage with specialists to provide input on cultural awareness, class and race.

An exciting and important addition to the Guides will be a wellbeing focus. We have sought and received feedback from the Australian research-based advocacy project, the Wellbeing of Architects: culture, identity and practice, with this new wellbeing-related advice to be incorporated into our Guides.

Parlour is an active supporter of the Wellbeing of Architects research project. We are also now collaborating with the research team to develop the Parlour Guides to Wellbeing. These will follow the model of the Parlour Guides to Equitable Practice and draw on the research undertaken by the team, along with a set of new case studies

We cannot thank our Parlour Collective participants enough. Their insights and meaningful advice for current practice will ensure the relevance of the Parlour Guides to Equitable Practice well into the future.