Juneteenth is a day for Black communities and allies to celebrate the day in 1865 when the last remaining group of slaves in America were declared free. This year, its timing couldn’t be more significant.
George Floyd’s murder and the resulting civil unrest and worldwide dialogue have had a profound impact on many in our community, while also offering new hope. So today we’re giving employees the opportunity to take time away from work to honor Juneteenth—to recover, reflect, and to celebrate—and explore resources that have been shared across the firm to learn more about Black history, culture, and systemic racism in our country.
We acknowledge this is a momentary gesture towards healing. We have a much longer-term challenge ahead of us: to foster sustainable change within a predominantly white organization in a predominantly white industry.
We’ve started with collective learning and listening to our employees and important voices in our fields. Motivated by the ideas, knowledge, and energy coming from these conversations—and by our firmwide strategy to build a more equitable organization—HGA leaders, alongside our national and local equity task forces, are planning short- and long-term actions:
- Continuing to build a welcoming and inclusive culture by learning together in racial equity training and facilitated conversations;
- Speeding up the changes we were making to our recruiting and hiring processes, starting with strengthening partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the National Organization of Minority Architects;
- Bringing our local equity task forces together with our HGA Community Action program to organize donations, service projects, and low- and pro-bono work;
- Auditing where we spend our money—vendors, caterers, services—and increasing our partnerships with businesses owned by people of color; and
- Focusing on how designers can make a difference. Identifying how systemic racism has impacted the design of the built environment and community planning and using that understanding to guide decisions in how we pursue projects and in our daily work.
We look forward to sharing what we learn and our progress along the way.