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Bespoke Careers

22 December 2023

22 December 2023

How to Build ED&I into an Architecture & Design Recruitment Process

Supporting equity, diversity and inclusion in the workplaceis a topic close to the hearts of many employers and candidates we work with. Alongside the pandemic, and with racial injustice issues coming to the forefront in recent years, we've certainly seen an acceleration in awareness about the importance of EDI in the architecture and design space.

For every organization, EDI is a journey – a process ofcontinuous improvement - not an end goal.

We often get questions about where to even begin with EDI and which practices are most likely to move the needle on EDI goals. So, let’s dive into practical tips for enshrining EDI into your recruitment process for the long term.

Use Metrics to Set Goals for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

If you’re reading this, it’s possible that your firm has multiple untapped opportunities for improving EDI in the workplace but needs more guidance on how to make progress. Or, there could even be a discrepancy between what your leadership team perceives as diversity, and the actual diversity within your teams!

In any case, the foundation of sound EDI strategies begins with measurement. The most effective way to identify blind spots and track progress is by defining the metrics and indicators that align with your firm’s EDI goals.

EDI metrics can be built on data about representation, retention, promotion rates, and employee satisfaction across demographic categories such as gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, and disability status. The key is to look for demographic disparities across these categories, which can highlight areas for improvement.

Be Candid with Recruiters 

Don’t be afraid to articulate specific challenges upfront - preparing a clear brief allows an internal recruitment team or agency to help you strategize the best ways to attract a more diverse range of talent.

Firms often approach us with the admission they have under representation in a certain area - such as not enough women at seniorlevel, for example. The most forward-thinking firms understand where their EDI gaps are, and their transparent communication empowers us to take proactive measures on their behalf.

During our consultations with clients, we go beyond discussing the immediate role they seek to fill. We’ll delve into the organizational culture, the challenges they face, and any areas requiring attention, including diversity and inclusion.

Cast a Wider Net with the Right Messaging

The first step in EDI-led recruiting is to cast the net for candidates as wide as possible. When advertising new positions, think about how to best reach talent from underrepresented groups. This might entail using a broader variety of channels to broadcast new job vacancies and establishing connections with groups representing these communities.

Crafting inclusive job ads requires understanding the nuances in language, to avoid unintentional biases that may deter potential candidates. At Bespoke Careers, we ensure job ads for clients include phrasing that encourages a diverse range of candidates to apply – such as those who might not meet all the criteria, for example.

Filter Out the Non-essentials to Find Diverse Talent

Anonymizing resumes is a small tweak to your recruitment process that can make a huge difference in meeting EDI goals. We offer clients the option to redact the candidate’s name, university, school, or college, andgraduation dates from resumes before we present shortlists to hiring managers. It’s these specific details that can – often unwittingly – add bias to decisions about which candidates should progress to the interview stage.

While not all firms we work with have embraced this approach, a great deal more are already doing it themselves. Anonymization is especially useful for intern programs, where firms can make sure their hiring managers aren’t just choosing candidates from the same school they attended.

Refine the Interview Process

  • Use Diverse Interview Panels

In our experience, including a mix of people from different backgrounds on an interview panel is a non-negotiable recruitment practice. With diverse perspectives in play, we're not just checking off each candidate’s qualifications; we're building a more accurate and holistic picture of what makes a candidate a perfect fit.

Candidates often appreciate and feel more comfortable whenthey see a diverse interview panel. It sends a positive message about a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and also has a knock-on effect for contributing to a positive candidate experience.

  • Train Against Unconscious Bias

Not everyone knows the ins and outs of conducting a fair and bias-free interview, so it’s important to give hiring managers the right tools to assess candidates without preconceptions.

To ensure every interview is a level playing field, we always recommend that you provide your hiring managers with training sessions on unconscious bias and how to interview candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds and identities. Such training has done wonders for the Bespoke Careers team, who are all trained in this, and it enables us to deliver the hiring outcomes our clients need from an EDI perspective.

  • Standardise Interviews

Standardizing the interview process allows you to tie together the strategies outlined above. By ‘standardizing’, I mean creating a consistent experience for every candidate – ask each candidate the same questions in the same order, using a set of core themes that align with the role's requirements, focusing on key competencies. Approaching interviews systematically will produce far better EDI outcomes than winging it each time.

Walk the Cultural Talk

Finally, it's crucial to follow through on the effort you've put into building an inclusive recruitment process. It's not just about the mechanics of hiring; it's about integrating these values into your company culture. There's no point in creating a diverse and inclusive interview process if, after the hire, the new team member doesn't experience that same diversity and inclusion on the job.  

Attracting diverse talent is a specific kind of effort, but retaining employees requires living up to the inclusive values you've championed from the start. It's the difference between a one-time effort and a sustained, inclusive culture that sets the tone for your organization.

For inspiration, you could look to examples like that of FXCollaborative, a New York-based architectural firm that has wholeheartedly embraced EDI. They developed three employee resource groups (ERGs) to drive their internal diversity initiatives.

ERGs are a truly grassroots commitment to DEI, ensuring that initiatives are not just top-down efforts. By building ERGs, FXCollaborative not only redefined how they attract and recruit talent but has woven EDI into the very fabric of their organizational culture.

As you devise ways to refine the recruitment process, it’s just as important to keep a steady eye on cultivating a genuine culture of diversity and inclusion that isn’t merely a slogan on a website.


At the heart of all EDI strategies is the creation of an inclusive and welcoming space for everyone in the hiring process and in the workplace at large. Ready to tackle new EDI hiring goals or make better headway on existing ones? We’re happy to help - contact our team today to get started.

Author: Alastair Wallace, Managing Director, Bespoke Careers

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