This week we celebrated 20 years of CREW Kansas City. As a chapter of the national Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network, this organization has been pivotal in widening my view of women in leadership and of women in business. I’m honored to have served and to keep serving this group, which exists to influence the success of the commercial real estate industry by advancing the achievements of women.
Unfortunately, I’m missing the AIA Women’s Leadership Summit this week. While I would love to have joined the national conversation this year, we’ve been continuing to expand connections right here in Kansas City. In the last several months I’ve had opportunities to participate in a Women in the Arts Panel through Women’s Empowerment Week, connect with more leading business women through WIRED (Women in Real Estate Development) and have had inspiring conversations with the KC STEM Alliance.
From these cross-disciplinary conversations, I’ve come to the (obvious) conclusion. We should all stop talking and start taking action.
We do this first by doing our best work. ‘All we can do to create change is work hard. That’s my advice: Just do what you do well.’ – Reese Witherspoon (Yes, the actress. With a pretty good idea.)
For all the WLS folks I’m missing this week:
Educate our community about what it is we as architects actually do. Yes, we’re artists. Yes, there’s a bit of math involved. But what we really do is take seemingly simple problems, discover and dissect all the impacting problems within and around that simple problem, and come up with a solution that solves it all. A solution that is not only safe and functional, but beautiful and inspiring. We solve our client’s and our community’s problems with beauty and integrity. It’s hard but important work.
Improve architectural education to better reflect and improve practice – increase rigor, encourage the quick iteration of multiple ideas, and integrate cross-disciplinary collaboration, client service, and basic business principles. Eliminate ‘it’s done when it’s due.’ And do beautiful work.
And for all professions impacting the built environment:
We – both women and men – must collectively shift our business culture. Respect the value of the work we all do, by getting paid, and paying appropriately for it. Demand diversity in teams, and intentionally seek collaborations with those who bring a different perspective than your own. Ask the questions. Take up space. Amplify others.
We must move quicker, with more urgency, to work toward parity for women in our professions. I challenge us all – together – to make it happen.