When we opened our doors in 1987, KPMB stood out among architectural firms because we were led by two women and two men in a partnership of equals. Our founders were also ethnically diverse, a fact we simply let speak for itself. In the decades since, Canadians’ expectations around issues of equity, diversity and inclusion have evolved dramatically. So have the values and standards we uphold – within our firm and in our collaborations with KPMB clients and partners.
Throughout this journey, we’ve been constantly inspired by what we learn from others. In a workplace that brings together colleagues with diverse identities, talents and points of view, we recognize the importance of ensuring that everyone feels heard and respected. That understanding has been strengthened through the many partnerships we’ve forged across Canada and around the world.
As we help build social and economic well-being in urban neighbourhoods, we respond to the priorities of people for whom racial injustice, inequality and the lack of affordable housing are facts of everyday life. As we create spaces devoted to learning, health, culture and scientific inquiry, we work alongside a remarkably diverse group of clients, professionals and other end users who have illuminating insights to share. And as we collaborate with Indigenous architects and artists in creating spaces that respect time-honoured ways of knowing, they engage us in the long, difficult and unfinished process of truth and reconciliation.
There’s still a lot more we can do – in our firm, across our profession and throughout Canadian society. To that end, we’ve formally declared KPMB’s commitment to fostering and advancing equity, diversity and inclusion. It’s a statement of principles that will guide us as we strive to do better and encourage others to do the same.
As this journey continues, our progress will be measured by the actions we take to ensure that all voices are heard at KPMB, and that everyone we interact with feels seen, included and valued. In our work and in the vital relationships that make it possible, we’re moving forward as we have from day one: by embracing and celebrating the power of difference.
To our staff, our clients, our collaborators, the design community, and the public:
The events of the past year have compelled and inspired us to reflect on our position of leadership in our profession, and the privileges and responsibilities that come with it. We have taken time over the past year to better educate ourselves about the ways in which we have been unintentionally complicit in systems of injustice and exclusion. We have not been doing enough. We are committed to doing better.
In 2021, we are placing equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) at the core of KPMB’s mission. What follows is a statement of intent — a roadmap that will guide our ongoing efforts to educate ourselves and make a difference. We are committed to becoming a more inclusive and equitable workplace. We are committed to using our position of leadership to effect structural change across our profession. And we are committed to using our design work to advance the cause of social justice and equity in Toronto and around the world.
EDI at our Firm
In order to effectively serve a diverse public, the KPMB staff needs to reflect that diversity. Our staff and leadership team are disproportionately white and disproportionately male. This needs to change. Our firm cannot continue to be a leader in our field if we do not lead by example. Our projects will be better if they are designed by a staff representing a broader diversity of backgrounds and offering a broader diversity of perspectives.
This year, KPMB is redoubling its efforts to recruit, retain, and promote a diverse staff and leadership team. This means going the extra mile to identify job candidates from a wider range of backgrounds. It means establishing equitable professional development programs so that the leadership team becomes more diverse. It means continually reviewing our compensation policies. And it means continuing to foster a safe, collaborative, supportive, and respectful office culture, in which everyone feels their contributions are valued.
EDI in our Field
The design professions are working to become more open, collaborative, and equitable. But progress has been too slow. There are still systemic barriers that prevent women, Black and Indigenous persons, and members of other equity-deserving groups from entering and advancing in the field.
As a leader in the Canadian design community, KPMB has a responsibility to play a significant role in dismantling those barriers and expanding access to the profession. That means leading by example in our own hiring and professional development. It means expanding our support for equity-focused advocacy groups. And it means working with high schools and universities to encourage young people of all backgrounds to pursue an interest in design.
EDI in our Work
The events of 2020 shed harsh new light on the ways in which the built environment can be complicit in entrenched systems of injustice, inequity, and exclusion. Who has access to dignified affordable housing, and who does not? Who is insulated from current and future impacts of climate change, and who is not? Who can seamlessly transition to working safely from home, and who cannot? Who can occupy public space without fearing for their life, and who cannot?
We at KPMB are committed to using our work to advance the cause of social justice and equity. This year we are expanding our efforts to ensure that our work is informed by diverse perspectives and serves a diverse public. That means developing more creative ways to involve stakeholders and community members in the design and construction of our projects. It means continuing to choose our work wisely, and sharing our core values and expectations with our clients and consultants. And it means investing in KPMB LAB research initiatives that spark conversations about how architects and designers can help build a more equitable and inclusive world.
Over the past few months, we have begun to implement a series of EDI initiatives, along with a framework that establishes criteria for success and targets for improvement. This effort is a work in progress. We are still learning—indeed we expect that this will be a life-long process of personal and professional development. We welcome your feedback, and look forward to participating in frank and open conversations about the future of our firm, our profession, and our world.