Foster + Partners is committed to supporting diversity and inclusivity. We strive to create a working environment that is responsive to different cultures. We are part of several programmes that encourage and enhance diversity both within the practice and the wider industry.
In 2018, the practice formed a Diversity and Inclusion Forum to improve engagement, knowledge sharing, and raising awareness of key diversity initiatives and opportunities for greater inclusivity. The forum is spearheaded by the practice’s Partnership Board and includes the ‘champions’ heading different diversity groups within the practice. Each group aims to support our people in the workplace and provide valuable feedback to practice leaders, while also championing diversity in the architectural profession as a whole.
We have well-established links with a number of schools and universities around the world, funding awards and prizes and supporting educational activities. Our internship and apprenticeship programmes give valuable experience to students from a wide range of backgrounds and we have strong links with the Stephen Lawrence Trust and Black Professionals in Construction.
In 2017, Foster + Partners chaired a trailblazer group of 20 architectural practices to create the UK’s first Architecture Apprenticeship Standards, in collaboration with RIBA, ARB and over a dozen UK universities. Apprenticeships combine practical experience in the workplace with academic training provided by a university. The apprenticeships have been set up to improve the link between practice and academia, and more importantly to improve diversity in the profession. The practice has taken on a diverse group of apprentices since the first cohort in 2018.
The aim of the programme is to inspire the next generation of city-shapers; for children to understand how architecture and design informs the world around us. Each year, as a principal partner, we team up with an inner-city school and together respond to a design challenge. The programme also aims to train teachers on how architecture can be used to teach a variety of subjects including art, design, numeracy, literacy, geography and science while improving children’s drawing, model-making, communication and problem-solving skills.
Alongside the Bryan Adams Foundation we have created new playgrounds for two local London schools, Park Walk and Ashburnham Community School. We built Maggie’s Manchester to provide a place of solace and support for people affected by cancer and continue to work on a range of pro-bono projects from a community boathouse in New York to the refurbishment of London Zoo’s Snowdon Aviary to create a new home for Colobus monkeys. Our work aims to create new opportunities and a better future for all.
Our focus has been to provide meaningful experiences for students to learn and apply new skills and increase their confidence. From educational trips for students aged nine and over to work experience placements for older children, our diverse programmes focus on design, drawing and the built environment.
The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust was founded on the premise that inequality must be tackled in all its forms. Our practice focusses on that same vision to create a fairer world in which everybody, no matter their background, can succeed.
We have a dedicated internship programme for Part 1 students from the Stephen Lawrence Trust ranging from 3 – 12 months. In addition, we also offer training programmes to develop skills in interviewing techniques, presentations, portfolios and software. We also work closely with them to identify opportunities for full-time roles for their apprentices at the practice.
Promotes education and understanding of physical and mental abilities within the practice and the corresponding workplace adjustments that are required. Workshops, sports activities and support programmes are provided to encourage wellbeing for all staff.
The network promotes equality, inclusivity and anti-racism for all through education, celebration and support through mentoring and career progression. The community organises numerous talks and events to highlight the richness of our diverse teams and their cultural heritage and backgrounds. The practice is international in its outlook and staff regularly undertake cultural sensitivity training before going out on international assignments.
The network supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people and the wider community at the practice. It raises awareness and provides guidance within the industry. We celebrate Pride and promote positive role models within the profession through our outreach activities. We aim to host regular mentoring sessions and training to educate and inform our people.
Providing engagement, education and support for our people on family, health and wellbeing, stress and life management matters. We have enhanced both our maternity and paternity policies and provide a number of benefits for parents and carers.
The forum promotes a gender inclusive culture and diverse workforce to support the practice’s strategic growth. We are members of several organisations that promote female leadership through mentoring and we engage in talks and events that spotlight female achievement.