Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

We celebrate humanity’s beautiful differences and are committed to ensuring our practice is equitable for all and representative of the diverse communities we serve.

Our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Framework

We’re actively investing in programs and initiatives that foster equity and inclusion within our firm, break down barriers for entry into the profession, and provide support to marginalized communities in the cities where we live and work. These efforts are guided by our firm’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Framework, which focuses on five key areas:

  • Leadership Accountability: Providing culturally competent, empathetic, inclusive leaders who are committed and accountable for leading bold change.
  • Inclusive Systems: Implementing organizational systems, policies and practices that address bias and prohibit discrimination of any kind.
  • External Relationships: Building long-lasting relationships with key external organizations and partners who share our commitments and will continually push our firm and industry forward.
  • Diverse Talent: Recruiting, developing, retaining and celebrating our diverse workforce.
  • Respectful Climate: Providing a welcoming, inclusive, respectful and supportive work environment for people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

Our Actions

Our journey to achieving our DEI goals will take time, but we’re proud of the progress we’re making each day. Here’s a look at some of our recent actions:

  • We welcomed Sharla Toller as our firm’s first full-time Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Sharla is working with leaders across our firm to build on the foundation that has already been started and help us take bold and courageous new steps in the DEI space.
  • We created the Inclusive Partner Program to forge deep-rooted relationships with XBE firms that maximize shared opportunities, spark genuine collaboration and provide fulfilling experiences for all involved. It also leads to representational project teams capable of designing solutions that affect real change.
  • We’re one of just a few firms in the National Organization of Minority Architects’ (NOMA) President’s Circle. We have increased our monetary donations to NOMA and welcomed four NOMA Foundation Fellows to our firm in the last year; NOMA Fellows are students who participate in a 12-week internship.
  • Across our offices, we’re actively engaged with organizations focused on improving opportunities for marginalized youth, such as Ace Mentorship, Uncommon Schools, the Christo Rey Partnership/Urban Alliance Partnership, Architecture + Education and We Care, to name a few.
  • In 2020, we held 22 firmwide listening sessions focused on advancing conversations about equity and inclusion. Topics ranged from racial and gender equity to the LGBTQ community and how our firm can become a better partner to organizations working to provide opportunities for marginalized communities.
  • We created a Diversity + Inclusion Council that works closely with firm leadership as a trusted advisor and resource to help accelerate results.
  • We have introduced employee resource groups (ERGs) to provide platforms for our diverse communities to network with each other, celebrate their identities and experiences, and create enhanced visibility within our firm. We currently have three ERGs:
    • Women@CD serves as a forum to advance the success of women through networking, mentoring and development opportunities as well as externally in the communities we serve.
    • LGBTQ+ aims to create an open and safe space for lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender and queer+ employees and allies to meet, network and grow together as a CannonDesign community.
    • Prism is a collection of distinct voices comprising black, indigenous, and other people of color as well as allies who collaborate on initiatives that celebrate the beauty in our differences.

  • We actively recruit at historically black colleges and universities and have strengthened our commitment to getting involved not only at career fairs, but also through mentorship, internships and teaching.
  • We provide annual conference scholarships for emerging leaders to attend conferences focused on equity in the profession.
  • We sponsor the bi-annual Equity by Design Survey, which examines the current state of equity in the architecture profession, and the AIA’s Women’s Leadership Summit, a two-day event focused on leadership and design.
  • Through Open Hand Studio, our incubator for public interest design, we provide probono and reduced-fee design services to community organizations who would otherwise lack access to them.
  • We offer ongoing events and learning opportunities to further our employees’ understanding of  diversity, equity and inclusion. We hosted a lecture with Despina Stratigakos, author of “Where Are the Women Architects?,” and recently held a virtual forum with Bruce Mau, author of “Massive Change 24.”

Recent Diversity, Equity and Inclusion News: