CEO Update – March 2022

Angelina Pillai , 9 March 2022

My appointment with the ACA three years ago coincided with International Women’s Day (IWD) and I seized the opportunity to reflect on my own upbringing, the importance of seeing strong women leaders in public life, and the need to push for basic human rights for all.

Three years on and the advocacy to fight for this basic human right continues globally. As IWD is marked across the world this week, there is resounding recognition that we still have a long way to go before equality between the genders is a reality.

Closer to home, from the Religious Discrimination Laws, to the Sexual Harassment issues playing out in Parliament, to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) report released this year showing Australia is still battling the gender pay gap, we continue to struggle as a nation to embrace gender diversity and equality, and the bias that underpins these stories.

The issue of pay equity has been on the agenda for Australian governments and businesses for decades, but pay disparities remain a persistent problem in many workplaces. And within the realms of architecture, the story is no different. The statistics in the Parlour Census Report 2001–2016 indicate that within architecture in Australia, the gender pay gap for full-time workers begins at a surprising 5% disparity for graduates, but steadily rises over time, topping out at 15.8% for 55–59 year olds.

Equitable practice, of course, goes beyond gender-related issues and involves the multiple other facets of diversity.

The ACA is committed to raising awareness and sharing valuable information on equity in the business of architecture, with tangible support for you and your practice. We have published a Resource Round Up of Pay Equity that provides excellent resources and reading material to help you consider these issues and achieve equitable pay in your practice plus a range of useful tips and advice on our Equity page.

We have also launched ACA’s National Salary Survey this week. As in previous surveys, we capture data of male and female staff to measure the gender pay gap, and this year we would like to invite practices with non-binary staff to contact us directly to discuss your input into this survey. The findings are an important base for ACA advocacy and will assist us in building significant longitudinal data so we can bring that knowledge to the industry and government for better workplace conditions and equitable practice.

The ACA is also delighted to announce our forthcoming collaboration with the Architects Champions of Change and Parlour on the equity in practice initiative – Stepping Up. This is an event and editorial collaboration that will share practical approaches to improving gender equity in architecture and the built environment practices. It is also an opportunity to build knowledge and facilitate exchanges of experiences, ideas and expertise to create long-term change – including developing and implementing policies and protocols and reshaping organisational cultures to better support equity. More exciting details to come, so look out.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the national labour shortage that is plaguing our profession, this is also an opportunity for us to step back and evaluate how we can attract, retain and leverage highly skilled professionals from other areas of diverse talent. One area that ACA is keen on exploring is neurodiversity. To understand how we may be able to assist practices in the employment of neurodiverse staff, we first need to find out how neuro-inclusive organisations are, so support can be tailored to their needs. In the coming weeks, the ACA, in conjunction with our membership of the Australian Council of Professions will be rolling out a short survey to members which measures a series of constructs of neurodiversity in your practice. The findings will inform the development of a national workplace neurodiversity index pioneered by Believe:NeuroDiversity. We welcome your participation so we can collectively shape the future of more engaged and inclusive workforce. Stay tuned.

So, the great news is that each of us can play a part in shifting the pendulum of change. As I offered in my reflection three years ago, let’s be part of a systemic change in our communities, our workplaces and our homes.

Get Involved

I urge you to continue challenging the boundaries of your businesses for the better – through the people you employ, the profits that you reap, on the planet that you live. ACA looks forward to pushing those boundaries with you and exploring meaningful ways to create a better, sustainable and equitable future.

We would love to hear your ideas! Find out more about joining the ACA and getting involved.