Dezeen Magazine

Foster + Partners pledges to take action on gender diversity

Foster + Partners has become the first major global architecture studio to commit to change in the light of our Move the Needle initiative.

"We would like to formally put our name to the Move The Needle campaign initiated by Dezeen," said Katy Harris senior partner and head of communications at the Norman Foster-led company.

The move comes after the architecture firm, which is the 14th largest in the world and employs around 1,500 staff, revealed the gender pay gap in its staff salaries.

Foster + Partners reported that it pays women 10.5 per cent less per hour than men, based on the median of its staff's salaries. It has now committed to improve this statistic.

"I confirm that we are committed to closing our gender pay gap and are encouraging more gender diversity at senior level," said Harris.

"As an equal-opportunity employer, we are committed to addressing diversity and providing appropriate career opportunities for everybody."

Harris revealed some of the initiatives are being implemented to promote diversity, including mentorship programmes and benefits for parents that share parental leave.

"We have set up engagement forums, together with development and mentoring initiatives, and are a partner of the Architects' Journal Women in Architecture Forum," she said.

"Our returnship programme is important to us, including our ongoing commitment to enhanced Shared Parental Leave."

Last year, Dezeen's survey of gender balance at the top management levels of the world's biggest architecture firms found that Foster + Partners had just one female senior partner out of 18, and no female senior executive partners out of 10.

The firm, which was founded by Foster in 1967, is known for projects including The Gherkin in London, the Great Court at the British Museum and the new Apple Park in California. Current projects include a quayside cultural complex in Stockholm, seven new Sydney Metro stations and Poland's tallest tower.

The survey also revealed that just three of the world's 100 biggest architecture firms are headed by women and only two have management teams that are more than 50 per cent female

This week we launched an initiative to improve gender equality called Move The Needle, to coincide with International Women's Day.

Along with Foster + Partners, Dezeen has received commitments from numerous architecture and design practices to Move the Needle.

Five international design conferences have also committed to improving the gender balance of the speakers at their events. What Design Can DoDutch Design WeekWorld Architecture Festival, the American Institute of ArchitectsCES and MIPIM have all told Dezeen that they will be improving gender balance.

Does your organisation want to help us Move the Needle on gender equality in architecture and design? Do you have a positive story to tell? If so please use the comments section below or email us: [email protected]