Washington, DC—The Baseline on Belonging: Firm Culture & Career Development report is the latest studying attrition from the licensure path by underrepresented groups, released by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) and National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). The Baseline on Belonging: Firm Culture & Career Development report examines aspects of working within an architecture firm and advancing a career in architecture.

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The latest Baseline on Belonging report provides an in-depth look at aspects of the study related to experiences working within a firm—including firm culture, compensation, growth opportunities, exposure to discrimination, compensation for licensure, and reasons for leaving the profession. The report found several disparities facing people of color—especially Black or African American respondents—related to firm culture, including discrimination and belonging in the workplace.

The information revealed by this report, combined with data from previous reports, provides a more comprehensive picture of barriers facing underrepresented groups pursuing licensure and will hopefully inspire meaningful changes throughout the industry.

“Organizations frequently discuss the importance of diversification and inclusivity to its business and culture; however, the findings from this recent report indicate we must do a better job at putting this into practice,” said Tiffany Brown, MBA, NOMA, Assoc. AIA, NOMA Executive Director. “The NOMA and NCARB research uncovers the need for leadership at architecture firms of all sizes to take a hard look at how they are addressing the disparities to create opportunities for those underrepresented and an inclusive workplace for all.” 

The research found Black or African American respondents—especially African American women—were more likely to face hurdles on the path to licensure related to firm culture. They were less likely to feel like they belonged in their firm, less likely to say their firm values diversity and inclusion, and less likely to say they felt valued by their firm, compared to white men. Additionally, they were more likely to face disparities that limit their career growth.  

“The architecture industry must continue to evolve to create a more equitable path to licensure and to create environments that allow underrepresented groups to thrive,” said NCARB President Bayliss Ward, NCARB, AIA. “The research from NCARB and NOMA illuminates aspects of firm culture that must be addressed in order to move toward a more inclusive future.  

The Baseline on Belonging survey was released in early 2020 to over 70,000 individuals and received over 5,000 complete responses. The Firm Culture & Career Development report is the fourth and final report from the initial survey and highlights several key findings for additional study: 

  1. People of color, especially Black or African American respondents, were more likely to report issues related to workplace culture, with 24% of African Americans indicating they had considered leaving architecture due to their firm’s culture 
  2. Many disparities between African American and white respondents were greater at large firms (compared to mid-sized firms) 
  3. Women were more likely to report barriers at their firm that limited their career growth—especially African American women  
  4. People of color and women were more likely to report facing or witnessing discrimination in their work environment 
  5. White men were more likely than their female counterparts—especially women of color—to indicate they’d received benefits that would advance their career as a result of earning their license 

These findings are a first step in identifying and addressing pinch points of architecture firm culture that impact many phases of the path to licensure. To better understand the underlying cause of the disparities highlighted in the report, NCARB and NOMA are conducting focus groups and follow-up surveys. The two organizations will draft an action plan for consideration by the six architectural collateral organizations, outlining possible steps to address the impediments highlighted in the Baseline on Belonging study. 

To learn more about next steps and how to participate in further study, subscribe to our mailing list. To learn more about the Baseline on Belonging study and download the full report, visit www.ncarb.org/belong

About NCARB 

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards’ membership is made up of the architectural licensing boards of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. NCARB, in collaboration with these boards, facilitates the licensure and credentialing of architects to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public. 

To achieve these goals, NCARB works with its Member Boards and volunteers to develop and facilitate standards for licensure, including the national examination and experience program. NCARB also recommends regulatory guidelines for licensing boards and helps architects expand their professional reach through the NCARB Certificate. Connect with NCARB on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube

About the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA)

The National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) was formed over 50 years ago to represent the needs of African American architects. Founded in 1971, the purpose of NOMA was to bolster and provide support for the handful of Black licensed architects around the country. Today, NOMA is a haven for architects of all origins who seek inclusion in the design industry. We continue to advocate for the licensure of African American architects (who account for only two percent of all licensed architects today), as well as those from other underrepresented backgrounds.  

NOMA has more than 35 professional chapters across the U.S. and over 80 student chapters, National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS) — mentored by regional NOMA chapters. NOMA Columbus (Ohio) and NOMA Utah are the newest chapters in 2022. NOMA and NOMAS membership is predominantly African-American, with other minority members including Native American, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, East Indian, and Asian, as well as an increasing segment of non-minority members who support NOMA’s mission. NOMA supports its student members by providing mentorship, scholarships, and job opportunities to ensure their successful transition into the profession. www.noma.net